In the business world, “compliance” is almost considered a bad word. It just adds to the long list of requirements your business needs to keep up with. However, when it comes to cyber threats, maintaining cybersecurity compliance is of the utmost importance.
In 2020, over 155.8 million people in the United States had their data exposed online—either due to a data breach, inadequate information systems or carelessness. This figure was made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a 600% increase in cybercrime, specifically malicious emails targeted toward remote employees.
With cybercrime on the rise, it’s essential that businesses build a security program that adheres to all network security compliance regulations and protects user and client information from attacks.
Here’s what you need to know about cyber security regulatory compliance to create an effective cybersecurity program.
Cybersecurity compliance is no different than any other types of compliance to which your business must adhere. It’s a list of rules and requirements that your business must meet to adequately protect user information from online attacks.
More specifically, cybersecurity compliance regulations are based on creating risk-based controls that limit accessibility of information while it’s stored, transferred or processed. It helps to keep personal information private and away from malicious eyes.
If a business is found to be out of compliance with applicable cybersecurity regulations, they could be subject to harsh fines (sometimes in excess of millions of dollars) and negative impacts to their reputation.
What Types of Data Need to Be Secured?
All cyber compliance regulations are based on protecting sensitive information. Of course, “sensitive information” can have different definitions for different entities. Generally, sensitive data falls into three main categories:
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Personally identifiable information is any data that could be used to identify an individual, such as:
- Date of birth
- First and last name
- Social security number
- Mother’s maiden name
Malicious actors can use personally identifiable information for many reasons, including identity theft, to gain access to user accounts or create personalized malicious emails to make the victim feel more confident that the email is legitimate.
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Protected Health Information (PHI)
Protected health information includes any details regarding an individual’s health or treatment history, like:
- Insurance records
- Medical history
- Prescription records
- Admissions records
- Medical appointment information
Health records are highly personal and contain a lot of sensitive information—which make them prime targets for attacks. Cybercriminals can use this information for a wide variety of fraudulent activity, including selling information on the dark web and applying for loans and credit cards in the victim’s name.
Financial data is any information regarding someone’s finances and payment methods, and can include:
- Credit card numbers
- Debit card PINs
- Bank account numbers
- Credit scores and history
Criminals can use this information to make unauthorized purchases or open accounts in the victim’s name.
Other Sensitive Information
While most critical infrastructure protection is based on securing three main categories of sensitive information, here are other forms of personal data that could be subject to state or local regulations:
- Email addresses
- Online passwords and login information
- IP addresses
- Marital status
Anything that could be used to identify an individual or gain access to personal accounts could be considered protected sensitive information.
Types of Information Security Compliance Regulations
There are several cybersecurity compliance regulations aiming to protect different types of data. Not all businesses are required to follow all regulations; it depends on what your business does and what types of data you store and manage.
While there are dozens of regulatory bodies, these are the major cybersecurity compliance requirements:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created in 1996 to protect patients’ personal health information (PHI). It applies to any business or entity that deals with health records, including healthcare providers, healthcare plan providers, insurance companies or business associates that handle PHI.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) are designed to protect users’ financial information. They’re applicable to any business handling financial information, including payment methods or bank account information.
PCI DSS is one of the most common cybersecurity compliance regulations because most businesses use a point-of-sale (POS) device to accept payments. These devices store sensitive payment information and must follow proper risk management strategies to prevent criminals from stealing customers’ data.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was first enacted by the European Union in 2018. It’s a set of privacy rules designed to give users more control over their data and how it’s used, based on seven primary principles:
- Fairness and transparency
- Purpose limitation
- Data minimization
- Storage limitation
- Integrity and confidentiality
These principles are purposefully vague so GDPR can keep up and remain flexible with the ever-changing information security landscape. While GDPR mostly applies to EU member states, it also applies to any companies that transfer data to EU states and the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Best Way to Maintain Cybersecurity Compliance
Cybersecurity compliance isn’t optional. If you don’t follow all applicable regulations, not only will your business be more vulnerable to cyberattack, but you could also be levied with severe fines and penalties. Since there’s so much that goes into maintaining compliance, the best way to ensure you meet all regulations is to work with an information security expert.
Only an experienced security firm will be able to perform a detailed risk assessment and identify any areas in which your systems are out of compliance. They’ll then help you create an effective cybersecurity strategy, achieving compliance for your business.
Avoid the expensive fines and protect your user data with Quadrant Information Security. We have over ten years of experience helping businesses ensure cyber compliance, protecting their critical infrastructure.
Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a demo.