Cybersecurity & Compliance

If it isn’t already, cybersecurity should be a primary concern for businesses operating in today’s technology-centric marketplace. Threats are fast becoming more sophisticated, and successful attacks are more devastating.

It’s not just the companies themselves that feel the brunt of a breach – customers, clients, and users are also put at risk. And that’s where cybersecurity compliance comes into place.

Currently, there are several cybersecurity policies that US-based organizations operating in certain industries and sectors must adhere to.

What’s more, with the annual global cost of cybercrime estimated to exceed $6 trillion by 2021, governments and industry bodies are set to introduce further regulations.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through must-know regulations and discuss why compliance, while necessary, doesn’t guarantee the security of your data.

What is cybersecurity compliance?

Cybersecurity compliance is an umbrella term that refers to the various rules and regulations surrounding digital security.

More and more businesses – whether that be in the retail, healthcare, or financial industry – rely on technology to record, store, and transfer data. This data could be anything from health records to credit card information. Compliances aim to protect company and customer data against threat actors looking to exploit network vulnerabilities.

Failure to comply typically results in strict penalties and may render your business out-of-operations.


Cybersecurity regulations you must know

The spectrum of regulatory compliance surrounding cybersecurity is relatively fragmented. In general, policies require certain levels of risk management and control over information assets and technology processes. Here’s a quick overview of the most significant regulations and legislation.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

Required for healthcare centers, providers, and facilities, HIPAA sets privacy and security standards that aim to protect personal medical records and other health information. The Department of Health and Human Services enforces these rules, with compliance violations racking up fines well above the $100,000 mark.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

PCI-DSS is a standard all organizations that process and transmit customer credit card data must follow, including online retailers. The standard improves the security of the transaction process. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council developed and continues to maintain the regulation.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX)

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was introduced back in 2002 but is now more relevant than ever. The Act protects shareholders and the public from accounting errors and fraudulent activities. The goal was to better corporate governance and accountability. The US Securities and Exchange Commission enforces the Act, and penalties for failing SOX compliance can reach up to $5 million and sentencing of up to 20 years.

US state laws

Individual states may have their own laws relating to cybersecurity, with many focusing on breach notification, enhanced security for critical infrastructure, data disposal practices, and identity theft. It’s best to do your research or ask your managed services provider. Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to fulfilling your compliance obligations.

Compliance is vital but does not guarantee security

Organizations must remember that compliance regulations are generic bare-minimums – the very basics companies should meet in their cybersecurity efforts. They don’t account for the nuances of your business: how you operate, how your team works, and how your customers engage with your brand. Nor do they reflect the very latest threats.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to pass a compliance audit only to uncover potentially devastating vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities that leave their greatest asset – data – compromised.

“Many companies document every cybersecurity measure and check all appropriate compliance boxes. Even after all that, they still hit the headlines and lose customer data. Compliance doesn’t mean security.” – Forbes

Remember, audits typically ask companies broad questions like, “Do you have a cybersecurity response plan?” It’s all too easy to say yes, even if their plan is impractical in reality

Similarly, an auditor might ask about your disaster recovery plan. You can tell them you have one without revealing whether or not you’ve rehearsed it. And if you haven’t rehearsed it, how do you know it actually works? How can you be sure that the steps outlined enable fast and efficient action?

To summarize, most cyber-resilient companies are those that treat compliance as a baseline.

computer security

The relationship between compliance and security

Cybersecurity doesn’t come easy. Malicious users are constantly changing up the ways they exploit vulnerable networks – whether that’s through a stock-standard computer virus, ransomware, or other attacks. Many IT teams are faced with the nearly impossible task of not only keeping up with the latest in security best practices but also implementing these organization-wide.

So, what’s the solution? Rethinking the relationship between compliance and genuine security. Instead of taking a compliance-first approach, prioritize security. Give it the significance our world demands, and compliance will follow – so, too, will business.

Looking forward

What’s next for cybersecurity? And how will regulatory bodies respond? 

These are big questions, ones that can’t be answered with certainty. First, it’s important to note that cybercriminals seek out low-risk, high-reward attacks with minimal or zero attribution. Organizations may have defenses in place to combat these most of these attacks, but as transformative technologies emerge in the coming years, the threat landscape is set to alter significantly.

Uncovering how to best secure against the inevitable rise of next-gen cyberattacks will require businesses, IT teams, service providers, and regulatory bodies to recognize the changing risk environment through the urgent and critical analysis of persistent research.

As a new era dawns, businesses must invest even more into their security efforts – for many, that means partnering with a reputable team of 24/7 cybersecurity specialists that can ensure both compliance and genuine security.