GRC Viewpoint

Can Better Compliance Lead You to Better Cyber Hygiene?

Compliance has many meanings. Depending on your definition, you’ll have a different response based on the context in which it’s being discussed. Many organizations focus primarily on cybersecurity today but may not realize how big a role compliance plays in security posture. In fact, compliance is critical to improving overall cyber hygiene and can help improve your security posture. Let’s examine how compliance can provide a path to better cyber hygiene.

Cyber Hygiene Is Integral to Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is incredibly important today. The federal government released a National Cybersecurity Strategy, and the pressure for organizations to protect their business, intellectual property, and customer data is intensifying. Suppose customer data falls into the wrong hands. In that case, the potential consequences are serious, ranging from reputational damage to fines to lawsuits or even resulting in your organization going out of business. As cyberattacks escalate, companies in every industry are impacted. To protect your organization from such attacks, here are a few key steps you can take:

  1. Understand and enforce your compliance policies. Organizations must define what data is considered confidential information, establish procedures to respond to data breaches quickly and effectively, and enforce compliance policies rigorously. This may include disciplinary action, litigation, or a combination.
  2. Test your cybersecurity frameworks against industry regulations. It’s essential for your policies to align with current industry standards, which change based on region and regulatory updates. If you ensure alignment, you can reduce the likelihood of getting caught up in a legal dispute if (or when) a problem occurs.
  3. Strengthen your risk assessment strategies. Risk assessments help you identify the areas of your company that are at greater risk from cyberattacks, so you can take steps to protect them even more carefully. Make your process of performing risk assessments part of your routine. Don’t just check off the compliance checkbox by completing assessments once a year; put a robust, automated mechanism in place to check your organization’s adherence to relevant regulatory and cybersecurity frameworks and mandates.

Employee Education Is Essential

Employees must be made aware of cybersecurity threats and the implications of a cyberattack to motivate them to take appropriate precautions. Teach them how to identify common online scams, including phishing and social engineering attacks. Ensure that software is always updated on all their devices and that your employees know how and why they must report any incidents immediately. 

Cyber Risk Management and Compliance

Cybersecurity is a concern for nearly all businesses. Researchers uncover new threats daily and cyber attackers continue to create new ways to exploit technologies. That means organizations must implement a proactive and comprehensive compliance strategy to stay secure and protect sensitive data. These compliance efforts help identify and eliminate potential gaps in current security processes. And by enforcing policies to protect data and systems from malicious activity, organizations also comply with the latest cybersecurity regulations.

Compliance also improves cyber risk management by providing a clear understanding of where an organization stands in terms of data liability. When you understand data protection laws and regulations and how they apply to your organization, you can mitigate potential risks related to cyber risk and better protect your business interests.

Improve Your Security Posture

As businesses mature, security posture becomes even more critical. Compliance can help mitigate the risk of breaches and cyberattacks on your digital assets. Here are a few steps you can take to improve compliance and security posture.

  1. Understand what happened in the past and identify areas where future incidents may occur so you can appropriately address your risks. Track your cybersecurity progress to measure how effective your efforts have been and make data-driven decisions about protecting your organization from future threats.
  2. Understand how technology affects your security posture. Analyze how your digital assets are accessed and used; this helps you identify potentially vulnerable areas and put preventative measures in place. Knowledge about your organization’s threat landscape can help you keep a closer eye on areas of weakness that threat actors may leverage.
  3. Encrypt data at rest and in transit. Data integrity is a critical aspect of cybersecurity – particularly the integrity of sensitive information. Following data encryption and protection best practices can help you reduce the risks of unauthorized data access or theft.

Meet Compliance Requirements, Stay Ahead of Threat Actors

You can protect your organization from potential cyberattacks and increase the security of your data by understanding and enforcing compliance policies. Threat actors continue to find new avenues of attack, and regulatory bodies continue to increase data protection and cybersecurity requirements. To meet these ongoing challenges, spend time discovering your risks and implementing proactive measures to improve your security posture. Through compliance, we can build a more secure digital future.

By Larry Whiteside Jr., Chief Information Security Officer at RegScale

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