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Tech Tips: Compliance and Security

Compliance refers to meeting requirements established by recognized authority figures. In every single case, this is necessary due to the collection, storage, and transmission of data.
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Tech Tips: Compliance and Security

What does it mean to be compliant? 

Since you’re reading this, you have already asked this question and need answers.

Compliance refers to meeting requirements established by recognized authority figures. In every single case, this is necessary due to the collection, storage, and transmission of data. Simply put, if you work with data in any of these capacities you must comply with requirements to protect this data.

To be compliant with state rules, industry guidelines, or even federal standards essentially means to agree with and meet requirements. Different industries have different standards, processes, rules, or guidelines, and include:

  • SOX

That’s just a quick snapshot – there’s no shortage of compliance and regulatory standards in the world of information technology.

What Does It Mean to Be Compliant?

Different industries have respective oversight authorities for governance. Those in the healthcare industry must be HIPAA compliant; the financial industry has FINRA, though card payment transactions are subject to PCI – you get the idea. These oversight authorities are responsible for establishing the requirements and guidelines to which all organizations within the industry must adhere. The same authorities monitor compliance or lack thereof.

Adhering to strict regulatory requirements with regards to how you collect, store, and transmit data means you’re covered from the compliance perspective, and will automatically apply to each data transaction – but this is often the confusing part.

Compliance is most often achieved by minimizing or eliminating risk. What disrupts this approach is change: requirements are updated, rules change, and new guidelines are published.

Technology, Compliance, and Security

Data collection, storage, and transmission are impossible without the use of technology, and compliance boils down to your responsibility to protect this data and keep it secure.

Well-documented processes and procedures for your network, infrastructure, and all IT systems help avoid complicated and costly compliance missteps.

  • HIPAA fines can cost up to $50,000 per violation
  • Payment card industry (PCI-DSS) fines can cost up to $100,000 per month
  • Data security breaches can expose personal information and credit data, potentially impacting millions of individuals – and the loss of your professional reputation

As data security needs evolve, so do regulatory requirements and standards. Compliance starts with an audit of what data is collected, stored, and how it’s accessed. With firm processes and procedures in place, compliance often results in improved system efficiencies and cost-efficient processes. When asking what it means to be compliant, you’re ultimately reviewing your own systems and finding ways to eliminate security risks.

How Do I Minimize Risk?

To be compliant and minimize risk, you need to eliminate security vulnerabilities with your data. Steps to achieve this include:

Require multi-factor authentication

The most common application of this is to verify the user through knowledge (password) and possession (i.e. a text message or email to a device only the user has access).

Device management

Smartphones and flash drives are the greatest complication to this step, but can be offset with a stringent device policy and controlled by mobile device management protocols.

Separate network for the Internet of Things (IoT)

Using separate networks, referred to as sandboxing, within your infrastructure helps manage interconnected devices. Consider how many Echo Dot devices the average home has, and the potential weaknesses each device imposes on the home network. That risk is exponentially increased in a professional environment where the number of interconnected devices (“endpoints”) is larger. Using a different network with limited access to sensitive data helps minimize risk, in this instance.

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