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Best Practices for Building a Cybersecurity Compliance Plan

Posted on June 10th, 2020

Cyber threats and data breaches aren’t just issues for your IT department. The impact can have a rippling effect across your entire organization – from your legal counsel, entangled in litigation, to frontline workers, who can’t utilize the tools needed to complete their jobs. Every employee in your company must play a part in managing cyber risks, in addition to staying compliant with ever-evolving privacy and security regulations.

These requirements and regulations vary by location and industry, making it tough for businesses to maintain their compliance. New privacy mandates, including the Data Security and Breach Notification Act and the California Consumer Privacy Act, can make it difficult to wrap your head around the numerous changes.

Organizations that are not compliant are feeling the burn. For instance, if a business defies several of the GDPR provisions, it can be fined four percent of its annual revenue or $24 million, whichever number is larger. How much could non-compliance cost your firm?

It’s critical to use best practices for building a cybersecurity compliance plan. Here’s how to do exactly that.

What is cybersecurity compliance?

With regard to cybersecurity, maintaining compliance requires risk-based controls that ensure the confidentiality, accessibility, and security of information that is stored, transferred or processed. It is important to note that the cybersecurity standards and regulations that organizations adhere to vary by industry, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to compliance management. As a result, building comprehensive compliance programs requires ongoing risk management so that all potential threats are identified and remediated.

Five best practices for building a cybersecurity compliance plan

1. Ensure your IT department is educated on compliance

Your firm’s IT department is typically the first line of defense when it comes to cyber-attacks. Their knowledge and programs may have been cultivated from previous attacks or general best practices from the industry. However, their cybersecurity programs may not be implementing compliance best practices. This is because they may not be as familiar as your compliance department is where regulatory compliance is concerned.

It is imperative that you educate and inform your IT team about new regulations that can affect the entire business. For the cybersecurity programs to be current, your IT department must thoroughly understand the technical constraints of their programs and whether or not new advancements need to be made. When your compliance and IT departments are working together cohesively, the result is a robust cybersecurity ecosystem that thoroughly protects sensitive data.

2. Create a thorough risk assessment plan

Risk assessment programs are conducted across every department in a firm, including compliance. Risk mitigation plans help to pinpoint potential weaknesses in your business and help the organization take proactive measures to prevent them from materializing.

Identifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities in conjunction with the IT department will dictate where compliance needs to be strengthened. Sensitive data such as client information, banking data, and technology infrastructure needs to be kept safe from external forces and accounted for in your risk management plan. A potential data breach can bring compliance penalties from the SEC or other regulatory organizations.

In order to create a comprehensive risk assessment plan, you must:

  • Identify all of your firm’s information systems, networks, and information that they access.
  • Assess the risk level of each type of data and determine where high-risk data is stored, transmitted, and collected.
  • Analyze the risk by using the risk = (likelihood of breach x impact)/cost formula.
  • Determine to transfer, refuse, accept, or mitigate the risk.

3. Set security controls

Once you have identified which risks pose the greatest threat to your organization. It is important to establish security controls to help manage those risks. Some examples of security controls include:

  • Network firewalls
  • Data encryption
  • Incident response plan
  • Patch management schedule
  • Network access control

4. Update your cybersecurity policies and procedures

Creating an efficient risk assessment plan enables your organization’s compliance team to adjust specific policies and procedures or to come up with entirely new ones. Numerous regulatory bodies want the compliance department to provide them with details as to how the firm’s policies and procedures perform contingently with their installed cybersecurity programs.

5. Do not operate in a silo

Cybersecurity and compliance is everybody’s role. Every employee, in each department, should thoroughly understand the role they play in protecting sensitive information. Your firm should conduct routine cybersecurity awareness training to ensure everyone knows how to properly respond to a potential threat.

6. Constantly monitor and respond to threats

Compliance requirements focus on how cybersecurity threats evolve. Hackers are constantly working to find new innovations on how to obtain sensitive data. However, they often prefer to rework existing strategies rather than find new vulnerabilities. For instance, cybercriminals may combine two different kinds of known ransomware to create an entirely new program.

Continuous monitoring can help your organization respond to threats before they become an issue. Without responding to a known vulnerability, your business can be fined for negligence arising from a lack of security.

How SecurityScorecard can help

SecurityScorecard can help continuously monitor internal and external adherence to established policies and practices. Use SecurityScorecard to demonstrate your ability to diligently manage ecosystem compliance by using the platform to instantly capture, report, and remediate real-time vendor and partner security risks that signal potential policy violations.

As cybersecurity continues to change, having the right tools to guarantee compliance has become necessary for organizations across a wide spectrum of industries. This is why it is imperative to adhere to best practices when building your cybersecurity compliance

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