Running a business is a time-consuming, mentally exhausting challenge – but one with a huge payout if you succeed. You need to keep your focus on the so-called squeaky wheels in the machine. So if you’ve never experienced a cyberattack, you not think it’s such a big deal. You may understand the theoretical consequences of a cyberattack, but you don’t seem like you would be a particularly alluring target. Therefore, is it truly important that you keep up with the intricacies of modern cybersecurity compliance protocol?
Yes. Here’s why.
The State of Compliance Today
Compliance, in this situation, refers to the way that you define, identify and protect personally identifying information (better known as PII). It is the security posture that you establish around your services to control the flow and safety of customers’ data. There are established rules set by law and necessity that determine whether or not you are security-compliant.
You may be familiar with HIPAA, which protects healthcare and personal information from disclosure. Similarly, cybersecurity compliance regulations determine not only the measures your business must take to guarantee adequate client safety, but also the reporting required afterwards. Take banks for example; starting on the first of April 2022, they had to make a change. Not only will they now have to report attacks within 36 hours, they’ll also notify customers about outages or attempted breaches that may have compromised their credentials. This is a pivot from before, when financial institutions were only required to notify customers in the event of an actual data leak. Even service disruptions will now become part of the reporting process.
This, increased digitization across the globe, and the hyper-reliance on technology that has been only increasing since COVID-19, all suggest that compliance guidelines will continue to evolve with the market. Keep an eye on what’s happening to get an idea of what’s to come.
Why Compliance Matters
So not only does compliance affect your ability to protect yourself and your customers from a data breach, but that hack will hurt your reputation and loyalty which in turn impacts long-term profit. However, there are also legal concerns to think about.
Remember the banks? If they don’t comply with these new regulations, they will be subject to massive fines. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg; studies indicate that an act of noncompliance costs an average of $4M each. This is in addition to legal fees, penalties, loss of profit and productivity, and other disruptions to the daily workflow that ultimately adds up to more than $14M overall.
Consider that the average US company spends $10K per employee on compliance and you see why maintaining compliance saves millions of dollars – about half of what you’d spend if you let the vulnerabilities lay rampantly unpatched.
Tips for Compliance
The specifics of compliance regulations will depend on your industry, how many customers and employees you have, the role you serve in the organization, and many other factors that will affect what’s needed from you in particular. However, there are some similar threads that run throughout common protocol, and they should give you an idea of how to stay properly secure.
- Build a blueprint. Planning out how to get and maintain compliance will keep the organization focused on a common goal (not to mention make stakeholders feel better!)
- Regularly test the effectiveness and efficiency of your systems so you can fix vulnerabilities before they jam up processes during a real emergency
- Update software whenever one becomes available, as the changes will include any necessary security upgrades to protect your accounts
- Automate processes wherever possible, to significantly reduce human error and improve speed and efficiency
- Appropriately dispose of confidential information ASAP, which means more than sending it to the Recycling Bin (that old saying, “the Internet is forever,” was no joke!)
- Continually monitor and back up data to ensure your PII is constantly protected to the best of modern technology’s capability
Maintaining compliance isn’t just smart; it’s necessary. To foster good relationships with your customers and shareholders, and avoid fines and breaches, companies must maintain a compliant cybersecurity structure. These regulations change over time but do so to keep up with the latest tricks up cybercriminals’ sleeves.
Many IT services and providers will offer compliance as part of their system’s package, to reduce excess labor on your end. Do your research to stay up to date on changing regulations and to make decisions that are best for your overall business.