With the increasing demand for a cloud landscape, protecting sensitive data and digital assets has become the top priority. The advancement of modern technology and high dependency upon it have given rise to numerous cyber threats, making it imperative for organizations to take a proactive approach.
Compliance plays a crucial role for every organization as adherence to cybersecurity standards, regulations, and best security practices ensures an organization builds a robust cybersecurity framework.
According to many reports, it has been estimated that organizations adhering to cybersecurity compliances and maintaining effective risk management were able to cut down losses due to cyber threats by thousands of dollars.
To help organizations understand the crucial need to strengthen their cybersecurity framework, this article will provide a complete guide to cybersecurity compliance.
What is Cybersecurity Compliance?
Cybersecurity compliance indicates the practices and programs that an organization adheres to industry standards, regulations, and laws pertaining to the protection of integrity, availability, and confidentiality of data.
The regulations, laws, and standards are usually devised by a group of organizations, regulatory bodies, and governments. They apply to organizations of all sizes.
Cybersecurity compliance framework ensures that an organization implements appropriate security controls, policies, and best security practices to adhere to regulatory requirements outlined by various governing bodies and industry standards.
The compliance requirements of an organization depend upon numerous factors, including data type, industry in which it operates, local laws, and governmental jurisdiction. Every organization must comply with cybersecurity compliance regulations and requirements. Failure to do so can incur fines, loss of customer trust, damage to the organization’s reputation, and often legal complexities.
In short, compliance in cybersecurity is a critical pillar in every organization’s infrastructure that helps them safeguard all the sensitive data, network, and infrastructure from cyber threats.
Why is Compliance Important in Cybersecurity?
With the increasing reliance on digital infrastructure, there is a significant rise in cyber attacks. In the past few years, there have been many cybersecurity breaches in top organizations.
Even though modern security technology has advanced, organizations struggle to address security issues effectively. From SMBs and large enterprises to government organizations, cyberattacks, especially ransomware attacks, have been prominent in many organizations.
Adhering to the cybersecurity compliance checklist has helped organizations strengthen their security posture and prevent most security attacks. Here are some key reasons why compliance is vital for cybersecurity:
- Data Privacy and Protection: Compliance helps organizations safeguard customer-sensitive data and prevents cybercriminals from exploiting it. Adhering to compliance requirements mitigates data breaches and maintains customer trust.
- Safeguard Reputation: The reputation of an organization in the industry is one of the driving forces behind its growth. Cyberattacks severely disrupt business operations, frequently causing legal issues and loss of customer trust, leading to a loss of reputation. However, compliance with cybersecurity helps organizations to safeguard their reputation comprehensively.
- Effective Risk Management: Cybersecurity compliance helps organizations implement robust security controls and continuous monitoring to identify and mitigate risks before they can make an impact. By following best security practices to align with compliance requirements, organizations can manage all security risks efficiently.
- Helps in Preparation Against Possible Data Breaches: When an organization complies with security standards and regulations, it helps them prepare security strategies against all possible data breaches. Not only that, it also helps in recognizing and interpreting vulnerabilities that can lead to breaches.
- Maintain Business Continuity: Staying compliant with security industry standards and regulations has helped organizations maintain business continuity even during security incidents. To adhere to requirements, organizations must implement robust security programs and policies that help minimize disruption.
- Maintain Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Every organization has to follow various industry standards and regulations mandated by law. Cybersecurity compliance guides organizations to adhere to legal and regulatory requirements and avoid any legal consequences. Cybersecurity compliance also streamlines the security management of organizations operating globally. Doing so allows them to adhere to international compliance requirements and maintain their reputation across the globe.
- Strengthen Overall Security Posture: Organizations must take a proactive approach, build robust security programs, and implement continuous updates to stay compliant. So, when an organization complies with all the cybersecurity regulations, it organically strengthens the overall security posture and aids financial health.
Key Cybersecurity Compliance Frameworks
In the modern cybersecurity landscape, there are numerous regulatory standards and frameworks that have been established for the protection of data and to mitigate cyber-attacks.
These regulatory frameworks and standards are introduced by various recognized bodies to evaluate how organizations protect themselves and their customer data. Here are some of the critical cybersecurity compliance standards and frameworks:
General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is a regulation introduced by the European Union in 2018 for the protection of the privacy and sensitive information of all EU citizens.
It mandates stringent rules and policies for organizations that store and handle the personal data of EU citizens. GDPR is a popular legislation with many requirements. Organizations must implement complex technical policies and security controls to meet those requirements.
GDPR provides EU citizens better control over the way their personal data is being utilized by organizations. Failure to comply with GDPR requirements can lead to hefty fines of 20 million euros or 4% of an organization’s annual revenue.
Service Organisation Control 2, or SOC 2, is a widely followed regulatory framework that serves as an audit report that evaluates an organization’s security posture for protecting data and networks.
It is an auditing standard devised by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The requirements of this cybersecurity include following the five Trust Services Criteria: security, confidentiality, availability, privacy, and processing integrity.
Most organizations that handle customers adhere to SOC 2 compliances because it enables them to showcase their commitment to customers’ data security.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a federal industry law in the US introduced in 1996 to safeguard the protected health information (PHI) of every patient.
Healthcare organizations, along with medical insurance organizations that handle PHI, must adhere to this compliance. HIPAA in cyber security specifies the physical, administrative, and technical security measures that healthcare institutes must implement to safeguard PHI from cyber criminals.
From access control, data encryption, and authentication to risk management, organizations must implement many measures to adhere to HIPAA compliance cyber security requirements.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or PCI DSS is a global statutory standard followed by every organization handling credit card or other payment card information.
The primary PCI DSS requirement is that the organization must maintain a secure environment for protecting payment card information, including storage, processing, and transmission of the card data. Every organization adhering to PCI DSS must be validated every year to maintain its cybersecurity regulatory compliance journey.
If any organization fails to comply with the requirements of PCI DSS, it will incur severe fines, high transaction costs, and harm to its reputation. Since this regulation came forward, PCI DSS compliance has been gradually increasing. Most reputed organizations stay compliant with PCI DSS.
Organizations for implementing effective information security management systems (ISMS) adhere to the International Organization for Standardization 27001. Doing so indicates the organization’s ability to establish, implement, maintain, and continuously improve the ISMS along with the related controls.
By complying with ISO 27001, an organization can enhance its cybersecurity robustness and secure all the data included in the cloud and on paper. This international standard enables organizations to create a process for examining, detecting, and managing all information security risks.
It also indicates that organizations must implement multiple security procedures to reduce all the risks. Organizations must go through a stringent audit for ISO 27001 certification and showcase security measures to improve ISMS.
First effective on January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act or CCPA demonstrates that organizations must inform consumers about the personal information the organization collects. The CCPA regulations give California residents the right to know when their personal data is being collected, and when their personal data is being shared. This regulation also gives authority to users to prevent organizations from selling their personal data and having their personal data deleted. It is mandatory for organizations to follow CCPA compliance when dealing with Californian customers, irrespective of the location they originated.
9 Steps to Achieve Cyber Security Compliance
When it comes to achieving cybersecurity compliance for an organization, it can be a challenging journey. It is a multifaceted and continuous process that keeps on going to ensure the organization stays compliant with all industry standards and regulation requirements. To achieve compliance, you can follow the below-mentioned steps:
Step 1: Outlining the Regulatory Requirements
The first step to achieving cybersecurity compliance is to first research and understand which cybersecurity regulations and standards apply to the organization.
An organization can also take the assistance of a compliance specialist to understand the critical compliance requirements and scope of each regulation.
Step 2: Performing a Risk Assessment
After getting clear about regulatory requirements, organizations should then conduct a risk assessment of their infrastructure to identify potential vulnerabilities along with internal and external threats.
Organizations should prioritize cybersecurity risks and understand the implications of those risks.
Step 3: Developing a Robust Compliance Program
Based on the assessment, the organization should then develop a robust compliance program that will help them cater to all the requirements.
The compliance strategy should outline all the security controls, policies, technical aspects, protocols, and plans that will help fulfill the requirements and address cybersecurity incidents.
Step 4: Implementing Security Controls
Now, the organization should implement all the required security controls that align with the requirements of the intended regulations and standards.
The organization must also enforce all best security practices that will be effective against cyber threats. The organization might implement access control, constant monitoring, data encryption, POLP policy, firewalls, and other security measures.
Step 5: Establishing Policies
To deploy an effective compliance program, organizations must establish policies that will inform and instruct employees about best cybersecurity practices to handle customer data and cybersecurity incidents.
The policy should also entail regular updates regarding evolving security threats and changes in the compliance requirements.
Step 6: Training Employees
Employees play a huge role in establishing a robust compliance program and conducting best security practices to maintain compliance with regulations. Organizations must conduct regular training of their employees on cybersecurity practices and other security aspects.
Employees should be trained on how they can identify phishing attempts, address cybersecurity issues, manage passwords, handle sensitive data, and various other cybersecurity aspects.
Step 7: Conducting Regular Assessments and Audits of the Compliance Program
To keep up with increasing cyber threats, organizations must conduct regular assessments and audit their compliance program to ensure their effectiveness.
The traditional audit can be done through risk assessment, cybersecurity incident addressing policy, and penetration testing. These will highlight any security gaps in the program and update it.
Step 8: Collaborate With Third-Party Vendors
Organizations should collaborate with third-party vendors, especially cybersecurity experts, as they will help ensure that the organization’s security measures align with the regulatory requirements and don’t have any gaps.
The organization must ensure that the vendor also aligns with the cybersecurity requirements and complies with the same specific regulations the organization does.
Step 9: Monitoring and Reporting to Stay Compliant
Organizations must constantly monitor their cybersecurity measures and controls to identify gaps and comply with regulations. Continuous monitoring will help in identifying any potential threats and deploying necessary policies and procedures to address them.
Association with third-party vendors often introduces new challenges. Organizations must take measures to ensure vendors also comply with the relevant requirements.
What is the significance of cybersecurity compliance?
Cybersecurity compliance has a significant impact on the security posture of an organization. It extends beyond just maintaining regulatory requirements. It not only assists an organization in protecting its digital assets but also maintains the integrity and privacy of sensitive information and digital assets.
Adherence to laws, maintaining business continuity, holding customer trust, and upholding global operations are also primary reasons that make cybersecurity compliance important for an organization.
Which regulatory frameworks are essential for cybersecurity compliance?
Several cybersecurity compliances have been established to cope with rising security threats, each focusing on specific aspects of cybersecurity.
GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, CCPA, and SOC 2 are the primary regulations that serve as essential guidelines for organizations to ensure data protection and mitigation of risks. These frameworks also provide privacy and security for networks and digital assets.
Why is employee training vital in cybersecurity compliance?
Employees serve as one of the critical drivers of maintaining compliance requirements in an organization. They help keep security controls, policies, and best security practices.
Training employees regarding best practices, policies, emerging threats, regulatory requirements, and incident response will help improve the overall security posture. Most importantly, regular training of employees will help the organization to maintain an ongoing compliance journey effectively.
What are the future trends in cybersecurity compliance?
Cybersecurity compliance constantly evolves. Every future trend will gradually shape cybersecurity. Automation in integration, emphasis zero trust security model, focus on supply chain security, global standardization of regulations, increased focus on insider threats, etc. are expected to be future trends in cybersecurity compliance.
Cybersecurity compliance is a vital aspect of an organization’s security posture. It ensures that the organization is taking all the necessary measures to protect sensitive data and digital assets. When an organization complies with regulatory requirements, it ensures that the security measures are effective and adhere to industry standards.
Throughout this article, we have provided a complete guide to cybersecurity compliance to help every organization to stay compliant. Vendors like CloudDefense.AI are also assisting organizations to help organizations seamlessly adhere to compliance requirements without any complexities.