As cyber threats and cyberattacks continue their seemingly unending evolution, new compliance regulations have been proposed and enacted surrounding data protection and data privacy. With the frequency of new rules only accelerating to match the pace of cybercriminals, staying up-do-date with each and every requirement is difficult, but it also must be a priority for all businesses. After all, the goal of information security is managing risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information using administrative, physical and technical controls. Let’s review some key facts to know about the more common data security standards and explore some best practices to ensure compliance.

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There is currently a list of laws and regulations which are focused on data protection. These include standards like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Each of these laws affects different types of organizations and obligates them to protect certain types of data and outlines what penalties they face if they fail to do so. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires any business that processes, stores, or transmit credit card data to (among other things) build a secure network and regularly monitor and test security systems in order to protect payment card data in electronic form both during storage and transmission of data; failure to do so incurs a $100,000/month fine for noncompliance and suspension of card acceptance.

 In order to improve their data security and ensure regulatory compliance, organizations need to align and frequently evaluate their security programs with established frameworks which were developed based on industry best practices, tireless research and, critically, such frameworks offer recommended controls that will help keep organizations prepared. There are four main frameworks:

1. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework

This framework provides standards, compliance, guidelines, and best practices to help manage cybersecurity risks. HIPAA-covered companies can use a map between HIPAA rules and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to improve information security. NIST also outlines NIST SP 800-53; this framework establishes security standards and guidelines for government agencies and federal information systems. It is especially useful to companies that need to achieve FISMA compliance.

2. ISO 27000 series

These IT standards help organizations safeguard financial information and employees’ personal data. ISO 27001 is an international standard for the establishment, implementation, maintenance, and continuous improvement.

Data Security

As bad actors continue to improve their techniques, your data security standards need to improve, too.

3. Critical Security Controls (CIS)

Developed by an international research and education co-op formed by IT professionals focused on facilitating security solutions, CIS offers an expert-level understanding of cybersecurity. The CIS model provides a framework of actionable defense mechanisms designed to ensure that only appropriate personnel have access to data and the assets within an organization.

4. Control Objectives for Information Related Technology (COBIT)

The COBIT framework is designed to help ensure the integrity of an organization’s data infrastructure from an operational perspective. It does so by breaking down cybersecurity into four primary categories: planning and organization; support and delivery; acquisition and implementation; and monitoring and evaluation. The COBIT framework offers a tool for managers to assess risk and reinforce weak points.

No matter which framework you adopt, there are always five key tips to remember:

  1.  Understand what type of data you have (that affects which regulations you need to adhere to).
  2. Conduct regular risk assessments.
  3. Develop a clear plan for auditing and updating your policies.
  4. Study available resources and guides.
  5. If you have questions, it’s always best to seek expert advice, which is why the Innovative Integration team is always available to help you meet your cybersecurity needs.
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