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3 Ways to Meet Regulatory Compliance Standards

Meeting Regulatory Compliance Standards

Given our critical reliance on data and technology to power operations and support growth, it’s no wonder that more and more companies have become subject to increasingly complex compliance requirements. New and enhanced regulations continue to emerge across various industries with stringent expectations for protecting sensitive data as well as preventing and responding to growing cybersecurity threats.

As a result, companies need to make significant changes to internal processes and risk management controls to keep pace. While this can be challenging, IT compliance is essential for protecting your business and its employees, customers and other stakeholders. Particularly if you work in healthcare, finance, government or another highly regulated industry, your regulatory compliance strategy can make all the difference in your success.

The Importance of Following Regulatory Compliance Standards

Industry standards and IT compliance requirements are designed to ensure that all businesses operating within a certain industry, vertical or location are taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety and privacy of sensitive data. Whether it’s patient data in the healthcare field, criminal justice information in the state and local government sector, or consumer or investor data in banking and financial services, these regulations form a baseline for processes and procedures that every company should follow thoroughly.

One of the most notable benefits of these compliance standards is reducing risks related to cybercrime. With modern companies managing high volumes of personal data, they become prime targets for cybercriminals who can sell the information or hold it for ransom. Based on the 2021 Internet Crime Report created by the FBI, cybercrime amounted to about $6.9 billion in losses for the year. Companies that find themselves victims of cybercrime can face hefty financial losses in the form of data recovery and potential lawsuits. Financial losses can also stem from business disruptions that cause lost revenue from operations. When major cybercrimes strike, all other processes stop for the sake of responding to data loss.

Additionally, companies that fall victim to cybersecurity breaches may also suffer significant reputational damage and struggle to secure future cyber liability insurance. By meeting compliance regulations, you help mitigate a significant amount of risk related to cybercrime.

If your business fails to meet compliance standards, your organization could also face fines or penalties from governing bodies — yet another form of financial loss. While these penalties may pale in comparison to the cost of recovering from a security breach, they are designed to motivate companies to follow all relevant industry data protection standards.

When companies take regulatory compliance seriously, they demonstrate their commitment to protecting confidential data and maintain a trusted reputation among their end users. Plus, these standards create a baseline for all businesses to operate by, creating more equal and ethical competition between companies in a given industry.

3 Ways to Meet Regulatory Compliance Requirements

Given the complexity of security and compliance requirements, meeting them can be a time-consuming process. With a few different approaches, you can set your business up for success when managing compliance.

1. Understand Regulatory Compliance in Your Industry

Instead of waiting for a cyber breach to occur before boosting your risk management program, be proactive. The first step to meeting regulatory compliance requirements is understanding the specific standards that apply to your business. While there are some standards that govern all industries or regions, some regulations only impact certain businesses.

  • Healthcare Industry: Businesses operating in the healthcare industry have to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a regulation dedicated to patients’ privacy and security. When healthcare companies, clinical practices or insurance companies do not comply with HIPAA policies, their patients’ privacy and health records are at risk. HIPAA has been an essential standard in mitigating cybersecurity risk in healthcare given that the industry is a prime target for cybercriminals.
  • Banking Industry: The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA) applies to companies in the banking and financial services sector. Financial institutions must follow GLBA regulations and comply with industry rules to protect consumer financial information at all times. Much like the healthcare industry, the financial sector presents a high risk of cybercrime due to the sensitivity of its data.
  • Government & Law Enforcement Sector: Municipalities and agencies that handle or process criminal justice information are subject to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) standards, which require protection and security of sensitive data at the local, state and federal levels.

Public sector and federal services companies may also require a security clearance through National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) compliance. NIST acts as a non-regulatory agency that designs requirements and practices for technology, security, Internet-of-Things products and hiring practices. NIST is often used as an industry-agnostic set of best practices against which to benchmark any company’s use of security and risk management controls.

2. Identify How Your Business Meets Compliance Requirements

Simply knowing what regulations your company must follow is not enough to satisfy compliance requirements. Your operation needs to have a firm understanding of how your processes align with these standards.

When considering how your business meets compliance requirements, it can be helpful to conduct a risk assessment. During this assessment, you can identify the weakest points of your data management and implement processes for responding to these vulnerabilities. IT and security assessments can also help you benchmark your current or future compliance effectiveness against relevant best practice frameworks (e.g. NIST) and even industry-specific requirements. A managed IT compliance provider can help you through this process.

The best way to facilitate the IT assessment process — and more broadly the entire compliance management process — is through thorough documentation. You’ll need to employ written information security policies, business continuity plans and other documentation that clearly outlines how sensitive data is safeguarded within your systems and across your networks.

Current compliance requirements can span numerous areas of your technology risk management. Using a risk assessment is an efficient and effective way to get a handle on your existing security gaps and help you outline a roadmap that meets any necessary requirements or best practice standards.

3. Hire a Third Party for Managed Compliance

After identifying how your company meets requirements and standards, you may find you’re more behind on compliance than initially suspected. Compliance is complex, and turning to a third-party expert can offer the support you need for success.

A trusted third party who specializes in IT compliance can help offload responsibilities from your internal team and strengthen your risk management policies for alignment with relevant regulations. A few benefits of hiring a third party include:

  • Expert risk assessments: Outsourced compliance providers have an in-depth understanding of relevant standards and can conduct thorough risk assessments. With a professional assessment, you’ll have an improved understanding of your vulnerabilities and what areas of your data protection strategy need improvement.
  • Stakeholder satisfaction: With proven compliance experts on your side, you can assure investors, stakeholders and customers that your data is safe.
  • Improved strategy: Compliance is more than an initial adjustment to processes — it’s an ongoing strategy. With the help of an IT compliance partner, you can meet regularly with a trusted advisor to review changes to your business and keep your technology and security standards aligned with industry requirements.

Protect Data and Maintain Compliance with Omega Systems

Omega Systems is a reliable partner for your IT regulatory compliance. Through Smart Comply, we provide managed compliance services that help you align with industry-specific standards using a unique combination of data discovery, risk assessments and vCISO advisory.

Our four-stage process — discover, assess, remediate and maintain — helps highly regulated and security-conscious companies manage the complexities of compliance. Contact us here or call 610-678-7002 to speak with a member of our team.

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