By Zachary Folk, Camelot Secure
Compliance standards such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) are frameworks that help organizations streamline their business processes, implement robust security measures, and optimize their cybersecurity posture. By aligning with these standards, businesses can enhance and protect sensitive data, and demonstrate their commitment to data privacy and security to customers and stakeholders. However, the level of difficulty that companies face in following compliance standards can vary depending on several factors, such as:
- Complex and Evolving Regulations: Compliance standards can be complicated, with extensive requirements and technical jargon that may be challenging to interpret and implement correctly.
- Resource Constraints: Implementing compliance standards often requires allocating significant resources, including time, budget, and skilled personnel.
- Organizational Complexity: Large organizations with multiple departments, business units, or subsidiaries may need help to achieve consistency and alignment across the entire organization.
Ignoring compliance requirements can lead to legal consequences, reputational damage, and increased cybersecurity risks. Although adhering to compliance standards can be challenging, organizations must prioritize and invest in compliance efforts. But before companies can alleviate the pain of compliance adherence and turn the process into a helpful security business tool, there are several steps to follow.
Step 1: Identify All Regulatory and Legislative Requirements: Businesses can find many resources for compliance with regulations like HIPAA, CMMC, FTC, and FFIEC. Identifying and understanding all regulatory requirements to fulfill legal responsibilities and adequately secure intellectual property is crucial.
Once you have identified the applicable regulations, selecting the proper compliance framework, such as NIST CSF, COBIT 5, or HITRUST, is essential. This framework will help align overlapping requirements and establish a standardized approach the company can implement effectively. Remember, compliance is a tool to standardize processes and procedures, ensuring all data protection, including customer data, throughout the entire data lifecycle.
Step 2: Conduct A GAP Analysis and Research Solutions: After setting up the framework, it is time to identify weaknesses and create a plan to address them. While most companies know their weaknesses, they often overlook crucial areas. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the business’s security posture, it is beneficial for most organizations to engage a qualified third-party cybersecurity firm to conduct a GAP Analysis.
It’s important to note that this third-party assistance does not have to come from a compliance auditor. Instead, it should be an entity that can objectively assess your business from all angles without any institutional bias. These unbiased organizations can review technical and non-technical requirements and help chart a path forward for maximum security.
Once the technical and non-technical requirements have been reviewed and a plan has been established, the identified gaps can be evaluated and prioritized. Then, with an action plan in place to address these gaps, an appropriate compliance solution can be selected. However, any chosen compliance solution must be adaptable, repeatable, and measurable to maximize its benefits.
The ultimate objective of Step 2 is to identify technical and non-technical solutions and present them in a format that enables all stakeholders to make informed decisions. This ensures that the identified solutions are offered in a clear and accessible manner for the involved parties to understand and participate in the decision-making process.
Step 3: Implement and Maintain Selected Solutions: The final stage in transforming the compliance process into a practical tool involves integrating the chosen framework and solutions into the business operations. If Steps 1 and 2 have been executed accurately, Step 3 naturally becomes continuous, efficient, and hassle-free. Moreover, it becomes pain-free because the appropriate framework and solutions have already identified the following key components:
- Data Owners
- Change Management Board Members
With the proper guidance, the compliance process becomes an automated procedure that provides decision-making information to each stakeholder. The ultimate goal of Step 3 is to ensure that the business has the necessary processes and technology to maintain compliance over time.
In conclusion, compliance standards such as PCI DSS, GDPR, and others offer businesses a framework to streamline their processes, procedures, and security functions, optimizing their cybersecurity posture. These standards provide guidelines that enable organizations to enhance their security capabilities, safeguard sensitive data, and demonstrate their commitment to data privacy and security. However, implementing compliance standards can pose challenges due to the complexity of regulations, resource constraints, and organizational complexities. Ignoring compliance requirements can result in severe consequences. Therefore, organizations must prioritize and invest in compliance efforts. By following the necessary steps and integrating compliance into their operations, businesses can alleviate the pain of compliance and transform it into the ultimate security business tool.
Zachary Folk brings over a decade of Cyber/IT Operations and GRC experience to the Camelot Secure team. His roots come from the system and network administration arena. He has taken that knowledge and is now helping companies to integrate technical solutions to streamline and automate compliance standards and enhance their security postures. Zach has successfully prepared for and executed many compliance assessments. He has been retained by various companies as a third-party consultant to help prepare them for compliance assessments and choose the appropriate technology solutions. He holds top-level Cyber Security Certifications such as CISSP with a concentration in ISSEP, CAP/CGRC, C|EH, and Security+. Additionally, he has a BS in Communications from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is working toward his master’s in cyber security. In addition to cybersecurity and compliance, Zach has served in the Alabama National Guard for 13 years and currently serves as a Support Operations Officer and manages logistics for his battalion.