What Is Data Security Compliance? A Detailed Introduction

For any company, big or small, data is valuable. But data in today’s world often isn’t safe. This is because cybersecurity threats are increasing day by day. Malware are evolving. Hackers are finding new ways to break through firewalls and encryption. To deal with this, data security compliance regulations are evolving as well. New rules are being proposed that will keep your data safe. But keeping up with the new rules and implementing them is not an easy task, is it?

In this post, we’re going to discuss what data security compliance is. We’ll get to know the importance and types of data security compliance. We’ll also learn some best practices that will help you to keep your data safe.

So, let’s take a deep dive.

What Is Data Security Compliance?

In order to understand what data security compliance is, let’s break it down.

You may have often heard the term “compliance” in your company. Compliance is a set of rules you have to follow. On the other hand, data security means keeping your sensitive data safe from malware and hackers. They may snoop around and misuse this data for their personal gain. So, what’s data security compliance? It’s a set of rules that every company and employee must follow. The rules are defined in a way to ensure that following them keeps your data safe from any kind of threat, and they’re implemented across logical controls and company standards as well as physical security.

But, you may wonder, my company has the latest high-tech firewall and encryption techniques. Then why do I need to follow data security compliance? Let’s find out in the next section.

Importance of Data Security Compliance

The Identity Theft Resource Center published a report about data breaches. The report stated that before September 2018, they recorded more than 9,000 electronic breach incidents. This affected over a billion records. Surprised? You may be wondering if your firewall and encryption are strong enough to keep your data safe. Well, fear not. If you follow the data security rules, your data will be safe to a great extent. But is that all? No, the story doesn’t end with just keeping your data safe. Data security rules do a lot more. Let’s find out why your company needs to comply with the latest data security rules.

More Security for Your Data

Data compliance policies set up a few baseline requirements. This keeps the data security techniques of your company consistent with industry standards. For instance, making proper authentication a must to access data is one such requirement.

Minimizing Loss

With improved security, you can save a lot of money. Wondering how? Suppose there’s a data breach in your company. You may end up losing millions. This is due to the loss of some valuable company as well as customer data. You may also have to pay a lot for lawsuits and fines. With the right security measures, you can prevent this monetary loss.

More Control Over Access

Most data breaches occur without the intent of a person. For instance, there may be incidents where your employee writes down their login credentials on a sticky note. In case they forget the credentials, they post it on their desk. Data security regulation prevents that by implementing some strict rules over credential sharing. Among these are rules barring you from openly displaying or sharing your login credentials and passwords with anyone. This improves security.

Trust of Your Customers

Your customers trust you with their valuable data. What if they find out that your company follows all the mandatory data security compliance norms? As a result, they’ll be assured that their data is safe in your hands, which increases your good reputation.

By now, we hope you understand why data security compliance is a must for your company. In the next section, we’ll discuss the different types of data security compliance.

Types of Data Security Compliance

There are several types of data security compliance. The compliances vary based on the type of data your company stores or the type of business your company does. Let’s discuss some common data security compliances. We’ll get to know the type of data that falls under the category of compliance. We’ll also discuss the regulations that you need to follow and the fine that you may have to pay if you don’t follow a required compliance.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS is applicable if your company stores or processes credit card data. In short, for companies working in the financial and banking domain, this compliance is a must to follow. This data security compliance protects digital data related to payments, account balances, and transfers. Also, PCI DSS helps to protect any payment-related data stored in physical records. But how does PCI DSS protect data?

By complying with PCI DSS, you have to follow certain regulations.

  • Your company should have a secure network. You have to regularly check and test the security processes.
  • You must place strong access control norms around your customers’ data.
  • There should also be a program to manage incidents in case a data breach occurs. For instance, suppose a customer reports mysterious purchases using their credit card. Your company must block the card and issue a new one.

What if your company works in the financial domain and doesn’t follow PCI DSS. This may lead to you paying a monthly fine of up to $100,000. Your customers may also file lawsuits, and the FBI may take action. You don’t want that for your company, do you?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

If your company works with healthcare facilities and records digital information, being compliant with HIPAA is required. This is applicable for all hospitals and clinics as well as certain health insurance companies. Let’s take a look at a few examples of the data that falls under this category.

  • A patient’s blood test report.
  • Eye checkup details.
  • Blood pressure details and many more.

The first step to protect this data is to ensure that all kinds of digital data are confidential. The security and access control should be high enough to prevent unwanted access. Also, the data should not be disclosed to anyone, not even the employees of the facility.

If your company doesn’t follow HIPAA, for every violation, the fine may be up to $50,000. The maximum amount is about $1.5 million per year. In the worst case, you may have to serve a prison term of 10 years.

Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

FISMA is mandatory for all federal agencies. Not only that, service providers and subcontractors of federal agencies must comply with FISMA. The type of data that falls under this category is all kinds of federal government data.

The compliance requires you to sort the data and place it in categories. The sorting is done based on the degree of damage that will occur in case of a data breach. Also, you need to carry out risk assessments in a timely manner. What if the risk level is high? In that case, you must apply the right controls to reduce the risk as per the acceptance criteria.

In case you fail to comply with FISMA, it may lead to a budget reduction.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR is mandatory for all companies whose customers reside in European countries. The data that falls under the GDPR category is the personal data of these customers including address, contact, and financial information.

GDPR needs you to store personal data securely. Sufficient security should be in place to prevent any accidental data loss or illegal data theft.

What if you don’t comply with GDPR? The fine is quite huge. You’ll have to shed 4% of your annual global profit. Or, you may have to pay €20 million if the turnover is less.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA is for schools, colleges, and other educational institutions. Only institutions that receive funds from the Department of Education in the United States should comply with FERPA. FERPA aims to protect student records. To comply with FERPA, you must ensure the following:

  • Educational records are accessible to students and their guardians.
  • Events, where students and guardians access the data, are recorded.
  • If the person trying to access the data is not eligible, you must not disclose the data.

In case you fail to comply, your institute will lose federal funds.

Apart from the compliances noted above, there are other compliances like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and many others. Check the compliance details and compare the criteria with the kind of business your company does. You must comply with the one that’s right for your business.

However, you may wonder, will it not be difficult to follow all these compliances? How much budget should you allot? Well, while implementing compliance, you should follow certain best practices. Let’s discuss some best practices in the next section. These will make implementing data security compliance much easier.

Data Security Compliance Best Practices

Do you want to check if your company complies with the required data security compliance? You can use frameworks to do this. For instance, you can use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. There are also many other frameworks like BS 10012, ISO 27000 series, etc. The ideal choice would be to use a combination of frameworks. This will provide some guidelines, standards, and best practices ensuring that your data is secure. Apart from frameworks, adopt the following best practices. They’ll provide a smoother journey on the path to data security compliance.

Know Your Data

First, you must be clear about what kind of data you need to protect. You can use data classification tools. These tools will help you sort your company’s data in different categories. Categories like financial data, healthcare data, etc. will help you choose the data security compliance you need to follow.

Carry Out Data Security Audits

How can you be sure that your company’s security measures are right? The answer is data security audits. Carry out audits to verify that your security measures are sufficient to keep data safe. Audits will also ensure that your company follows the required data security compliance. Study the report provided after the audit. If there are any loopholes and risk zones in your security policies, rectify that.

Develop a Plan

Before implementing data security compliance for your company, you need a clear plan. Policies and how things work should be redefined. You should also train your employees and IT security teams. To effectively manage all these, define a clear plan. Use a checklist and find out what you have and what you need. Having a plan is a good start before implementing compliance.

Consult With Third-Party Agencies

What if the number of questions you have is greater than the number of answers. Do you have a compliance officer in your company to help you with all your queries? If not, consider hiring a third-party agency. They’ll provide experts who know and have experience with implementing compliance regulations. A consultant can also help you to implement your plan in less time, thus saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Educate Your Employees About Data Security Compliance

Are you going to implement a new data security compliance at your company? Your employees may face some trouble with adapting to the new policies. Schedule awareness and security training. Make it mandatory for every employee to attend this training. Also, issue penalties for people who do not follow the rules.

This may sound a bit harsh. But when it comes to running a company, you must think about your customers. When they’re trusting you with their data, you should do everything to keep that data safe. Implement data security compliance in your company. Make it a must for your employees to follow the rules. This way, you’ll be able to keep up your reputation and earn your customers’ trust.

This post was written by Arnab Roy Chowdhury. Arnab is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has strong expertise in the latest UI/UX trends, project methodologies, testing, and scripting.