As if IT managers and CIOs didn’t have enough on their plates already, many are finding themselves with another heaping scoop of responsibility to manage: compliance.
Various regulatory bodies set compliance requirements, which differ from country to country or even state to state in the US. For a company to be compliant, it must meet all the necessary legal, regulatory, and industry-specific requirements for cybersecurity. However, with an unending stream of regulations, constant changes to those regulations, and overlapping requirements, compliance can be daunting for organizations. Despite the challenges, cybersecurity compliance is crucial for an organization’s success and needs to be a top priority for every organization.
A compliance program offers numerous benefits, including reducing the potential for a breach, making audits and certifications easier, and providing a clearer picture of a company’s risk posture so it can make informed decisions regarding priorities and security investments. Adhering to compliance also builds critical trust with customers, as the company is considered responsible and secure.
On the other hand, the consequences of non-compliance can be severe, resulting in hefty fines and legal penalties. Companies can be more vulnerable to attacks as security controls may not be stringent enough to protect against evolving threats. In turn, that can lead to legal action from customers or partners impacted by a data breach and cause reputational damage, making it hard for a company to maintain its customers and attract new ones.
The positive outcomes and repercussions make it clear that regardless of size, industry, or location, your organization must have a compliance program, but how exactly should you build one?
How to create a compliance program
Like with many things, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a program, but there are general guidelines and good sense practices every business should consider.
Become a compliance expert
As a compliance expert, you must ensure the organization’s environment is well-maintained and updated to address all regulations and threats. You’ll need in-depth knowledge of the regulatory landscape and specific compliance requirements for your industry, the country in which you operate, and your clients’ countries.
For example, you could be beholden to PCI DSS, GDPR, and CCPA if you accept or store credit card information and have clients in Europe and California. To comply with multiple regulations, you’ll need to understand each, identify the overlaps so you don’t duplicate work, and then fill in the gaps of what still needs to be secured. If taking that on isn’t feasible, work with an external compliance consultant who can provide guidance on requirements and best practices.
Establish a risk management framework
Compliance and risk management are deeply intertwined. Complying with regulations protects your business from risks, while risk management guards against risks that could make you non-compliant.
Choosing the proper risk management framework for your company depends on the size and complexity of the organization, the industry sector, and the regulatory requirements. Still, they all follow the same high-level process:
- Identify risks: Identify the legal, regulatory, industry-related, environmental, or other risks your organization could be exposed to by considering internal and external factors that could impact the business.
- Analyze risks: Determine the scope of each risk and examine its relationship and the potential effect on business functions across the organization.
- Assess risks: Rank and prioritize risks based on their severity using qualitative or quantitative risk assessment.
- Treat risks: Risk treatment options include avoiding, transferring, reducing, or accepting the risk. When deciding, consider the costs, benefits, and feasibility based on your budget and resources.
- Monitor and review: Continuously monitor and review your risk management process, paying attention to the effectiveness of the risk treatment options and new risks that may emerge.
Challenges of risk management
Effective risk management requires significant resources, including time, money, personnel, and tools, all of which can present challenges. Every compliance regulation adds an additional layer of complexity to risk management, but each must be addressed without fail.
The uncertain nature of risks can unearth internal challenges, particularly when multiple stakeholders or business units can’t agree on the severity and treatment of risk. In turn, that can hinder executive-level buy-in. The hardest challenge to contend with is that risks are constantly evolving, so your strategy must adapt quickly and continue to get support from every person in the company.
Evaluating the strength of your compliance program
To assess the effectiveness of your compliance program, here are some questions you should ask:
- Are all processes documented with clear descriptions of how to execute them to maintain compliance? Are they accessible to stakeholders, and can they be reviewed, evaluated, and improved upon to meet new needs and challenges?
- Do you have adequate internal controls to prevent and detect non-compliance, identify areas for improvement, and promote a culture of compliance throughout the organization?
- Are you monitoring, collecting, and preserving physical and digital evidence that can be used to show your compliance in case of an audit?
- Does your incident response plan detail the procedures for reporting, investigating, and resolving incidents?
- Are employees being trained and made aware of their role in maintaining security compliance?
- Are there procedures for managing third-party vendors and ensuring they comply with relevant cybersecurity regulations and standards?
Best practices for a compliance program
Regardless of the framework you choose, ISO 31000’s principles of risk management can serve as a best practice guide for creating an effective compliance program. It states your program should create value for the company, be an integral part of the organizational and decision-making processes, be tailored to your business, and be designed using the best information available. It should also be systematic, address any uncertainty, account for the human element, be transparent and adaptable, and continuously monitor and improve. If you can confidently say your program ticks all those boxes, you’ll be on the way to ensuring your organization’s compliance program is on the right track.
No matter the size of their business, CYREBRO customers reinforce their security efforts with today’s innovative technologies offered by CYREBRO including AI and ML. Our proprietary detection algorithms strategically monitor, analyze, and interpret the consequences of events across all your business environments providing security and maintaining compliance needs.