Lax data security compliance puts your business reputation at risk

April 02, 2024
Author: Chris Munoz
Blog | Security | Thought Leadership

There’s no other way to say it: data security breaches are expensive and risk your company’s reputation along with your customers’ information. 

Data security compliance is often waved away as the IT department’s responsibility, but as even the smallest companies begin offering online services to meet growing consumer demand, the security of their personal information should warrant the attention of C-suite level executives.

In a May 2023 survey of over 2,000 IT security decision makers, only 39% said their Board and C-suite understand cybersecurity’s importance in their business. A little more than a third of those surveyed said they believe their leadership only considers data security compliance essential to comply with regulatory demands, with 17% saying their leadership doesn’t consider it a priority.

It’s a considerable risk for any business considering IBM estimates that, in 2023, the cost of a single data breach increased by 15% in the past three years to $4.5 million—not to mention the loss in consumer trust. 

To say that aligning your cybersecurity and business goals is essential might be an understatement. This research highlights the consequences when teams’ objectives fail to ensure an agreement across business functions. There is real value in metrics that measure security activity and demonstrate the impact on business outcomes.

What is data security compliance, and why do you need it?

It’s important to explain what data security compliance means. Simply put, it’s safeguarding your valuable data from unauthorized access, use, and cyber threats by identifying the applicable governance for data protection, security, storage, and other activities, and establishing policies, procedures, and protocols to ensure that data is fully protected.

The primary purpose of data security compliance is to adhere to internal policies, governmental laws, and regulations. By implementing compliance procedures, companies can effectively manage and mitigate their reputational risk and improve their overall vision and value. This process also helps prevent and detect rule violations that could lead to legal and financial consequences.

Compliance involves several steps, including risk assessment, policy development, training, and monitoring. Companies should assess potential risks and threats to their data and develop policies and procedures to mitigate them. In addition, they must provide training and education for their employees to ensure they understand the policies and procedures and can effectively implement them.

Finally, companies should monitor compliance efforts to remain current with changing regulations and threats. Companies can protect their valuable data, reputation, and bottom line by adhering to data security compliance.

Public and private sector organizations have a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard the information they use to run their businesses. 

Business owners strive to earn and maintain the trust of their customers, but losing control of customer data can easily be shattered. According to a McKinsey & Company report, 85% of customers would not do business with a company if they had any concerns about its data practices.

As to who creates the standards and regulations, data compliance governance often includes a combination of domestic and global standards, regulations, frameworks, programs, and legislation. A handful of examples include:

  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—a sciences lab and non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce—develops and distributes standards primarily for government use, but they’re also widely used within private industry.
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops global standards for different kinds of systems and technologies.
  • Payment Card Industry Digital Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security standards that applies to organizations that process, store, or transmit credit cardholder information.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the primary global data protection entity that addresses the need for a broad range of data protection activities and applies to any organization collecting people’s personal information in the EU.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is state legislation that applies to any organization conducting business in California and collecting consumer data.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the security and integrity of electronically protected health information and all other forms of sensitive data.
  • Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) provides standardized guidelines to help federal agencies and the private sector evaluate cyber threats and risks to data within technology infrastructure platforms.
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a framework of guidelines defining security actions that government agencies can use to enhance their cybersecurity posture by protecting critical information systems from different attacks.
  • Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) addresses information assurance, governance, and security for audit professionals. ISACA’s Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) is a widely used control framework for IT management, governance, security, and data compliance. 

How can companies ensure data security compliance?

That all might seem like a lot of regulation, but as a business owner, you have a responsibility to ensure your company is secure. 

Risk assessments are a crucial step in identifying vulnerabilities in your IT security system. By performing them across all business functions, including regulatory compliance, you can take proactive steps to mitigate potential security risks. Knowing your weaknesses can help you make better decisions in areas related to compliance, ultimately keeping your business safe.

It’s important to note that compliance is just a reporting function that shows that your business meets a set of requirements. To become compliant, you must actively create security controls. Even if you are fully compliant, you are still at risk of a security breach. Therefore, it’s crucial to implement security controls to help manage risk. Ensure you have a balance between compliance and security to further protect your business from potential threats.

Automation is an excellent tool to reduce the time needed to stay compliant 

IT and security departments can use many potential automation opportunities to streamline compliance processes. Examining repetitive tasks to see if automation is possible saves time and makes compliance processes more efficient, which ensures your business stays compliant while minimizing the time and resources required.

What about patching?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that many companies need to pay more attention to the importance of data security. With the alarming rate of data breaches, we can no longer afford to ignore it. 

Known vulnerabilities pose a significant threat and need to be addressed, which is where application testing becomes important. By testing apps, you can identify weaknesses, patch them, and determine how vulnerable your data is. It’s essential to know how secure your data is so that you can take the proper steps to reinforce it if necessary.

It’s important to take data loss, theft, and breach seriously. Unfortunately, some companies have learned this the hard way and have suffered significant financial setbacks due to these incidents. Implementing the best data management practices to safeguard your data and your business is essential. 

Let CBTS help you take action before something goes wrong. Be proactive and protect your data now.

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