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3 Basic Compliance Components and How They are Good For Your Company

There is a lot of grumbling and collective hand wringing these days over the topic of data protection compliance. Whether you are talking about PCI, GDPR, HIPAA, or other requirements, you’ll find no shortage of complaints about the regulations: – they’re expensive, complicated, too strict, too loose, or too vague. Regardless of the subjective reviews, compliance regulations provide many benefits, and not just those they were originally designed to provide. 

Companies across industries stand to benefit from the forced mindfulness and stewardship that regulations initiate. In fact, the diligence inspired by data compliance regulations stands to sharpen a company’s competitive edge.

Keep Calm and Comply

Once the initial reaction and resistance fades, organizations should realize that data protection regulations, at their core, will prompt improved cybersecurity.  And there isn’t really a downside to upping your company’s security game. 

As today’s businesses battle for market share, it makes sense to come to the front lines with the best armor possible. A well-executed cybersecurity strategy is a major component of this. It not only protects valuable data, but also guards the company against any doubt-inducing compliance inquiries. Businesses operate better when they know they are on solid footing, with all I’s dotted and T’s crossed. 

Additionally, the modern organization’s success depends greatly on its ability to earn consumer trust. Trust that they will deliver a consistent product or service. Trust that the company is stable and reliable. Trust that the organization will protect consumer data. 

Almost 70% of customers report that they’d be less inclined to work with a business that suffered a publicly disclosed data
breach.-Verizon PCI Compliance Report

This concern extends to all consumer data—from personal health information (HIPAA) to personal data (GDPR) to payment cardholder data (PCI DSS).

Most data protection regulations have the same general requirements in common: 

1.    Comprehensive Data Protection
2.    Proof of Data Security
3.    Data Breach Control and Response Planning

Comprehensive Data Protection

Personal consumer data must be protected at every stage of its lifecycle with a company. That includes when the data is stored (at rest) as well as when it is being shared (in transit). Protecting data at rest includes tracking, monitoring, and limiting access (both remote and physical) to network resources and data. Organizations must employ network protection measures including:

  • Firewall configurations
  • Current, updated antivirus software
  • Data tracking, monitoring and reporting
  • Limited access to servers and networks
  • Sophisticated credentials creation and verification measures

Data in transit includes all types of data sharing, including information that is emailed and accessed in some way from personal devices. Encryption is a key component to effectively protecting data that is being shared. Companies must also properly vet their business partners and all parties with whom they share data, to ensure they abide by data protection regulation requirements as well. 

Benefits

These data security efforts do more than just protect the customer and the business from breaches and leaks. They force organizations to fully understand their complicated data webs in order to effectively secure them. This can slow down the rampant land grab for all things data, as organizations realize they can’t merely own data, they have to understand it, use it, and conscientiously protect it.

Proof of Data Security

The burden of proof is on organizations that claim to be compliant with data protection regulations. They must be able to provide evidence that they are indeed monitoring and protecting their consumer data. Often this requires the use of action logs and audit logs, which can track data transactions and demonstrate which data controls are in place. This applies to data an organization is keeping as well as data that must be purged due to opt-outs and removal requests.  

Regular analysis and verification is also necessary when it comes to proving data security and compliance. Companies can perform security audits, vulnerability assessments, and penetration testing, among other efforts, to ensure all requirements are in place and are working properly. It also pays to employ data management tools that facilitate compliance through settings and automation and are designed to generate reports to help audit compliance status.

Benefits

The requirement to provide proof of data protection prompts organizations to self-assess their data security and self-enforce requirements and standards. This translates into corporate accountability, which only stands to benefit a company. 

Data Breach Response Planning

Preventative measures aside, data breaches can happen.  Many regulations require a company to have a response plan for breaches or leaks, including a notification plan to inform those whose data has been compromised. An effective data breach plan includes the following measures:

  • Establish, document, and share a Breach Response Plan with key stakeholders. 
  • Ensure third-party partners and service providers understand your breach policies and implement breach response plans of their own. 
  • Identify a "Breach Response Team" and team leader, including representatives from IT, Communications/ PR, HR, C-level, and Legal.
  • Identify who needs to be notified internally, their contact information, and the process for contacting them.
  • After a breach is contained, perform a vulnerability assessment to identify weak spots and determine the point of failure.
  • Create and execute a breach mitigation plan as well as any preventative steps to avoid a reoccurrence of the incident.
  • Notify external parties who are affected by the breach, and provide a description of the breach, a key point of contact, and measures taken to mitigate the situation. 
  • Have an "Inquiry Response Team" ready with acceptable, agreed-upon responses and escalation policies. 
  • Document all actions regarding the breach, from discovery through notification and beyond

Benefits

In having a solid breach response plan, companies essentially subscribe to the principle of expecting the best, but planning for the worst. It’s crucial to be prepared for high-stress, potentially costly situations such as a leak or a data breach. While data protection regulations might require this level of preparedness, it is really something organizations should have anyway, regardless of compliance. 
 

Related Resources

While compliance with regulations like Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come with hefty price tags, the alternative is far more costly. Learn more in this Ponemon Institute report: The True Cost of Compliance with Data Protection Regulations

Enterprise compliance to any standard must be integrated into your IT procedures. The High Security Module (HSM) for EFT helps organizations achieve or exceed security practices for data in transit and at rest. Transfer Data Within Compliance

May 25, 2018 marks the EU deadline to begin enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Failure to comply with the standard may result in significant fines for organizations based in the EU or with an EU presence. Learn how EFT can help with GDPR Compliance