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Creating an Effective Cybersecurity Compliance Plan

Non-compliance costs businesses an average of $4,005,116 in revenue losses each year, yet 57% of senior executives rank risk and compliance as one of the top two risk categories they feel least prepared to deal with. Worse, 69% of executives do not feel that their current risk management policies will sufficiently address future needs, and 62% of organizations have experienced a critical risk event in the past three years.

In short? When it comes to cybersecurity compliance risk management, businesses are lagging behind.

It all starts with a strong cybersecurity compliance plan. Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you build your plan from the ground up.

What is Cybersecurity Compliance?

Cybersecurity is the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized and illegal use. But in order to have an effective cybersecurity program, you need compliance from your employees and vendors. As such, cybersecurity compliance refers to risk-based controls used to protect the security and integrity of stored data and your cyber network.

Sounds simple enough, right? Here’s the catch: cybersecurity compliance isn’t based on a single regulation. In fact, there’s a whole library of laws and regulators that apply to cybersecurity, from obvious players like the National Institute of Standards and Technology or the General Data Protection Regulation to HIPAA and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Worse, cybersecurity compliance isn’t a one-and-done deal. It evolves over time, and your program has to evolve alongside it.

Risk and Compliance

This is where risk and compliance come into the picture.

In simple terms, cybersecurity risk is the probability of loss or harm related to your technical infrastructure and technology use. However, risk is neither static nor uniform. For example, the risk posed by a vendor who has limited access to your network is much lower than a vendor who is central to your work as an organization.

There is also a changing level of risk over time. For example, the addition of a new vendor may change your risk landscape depending on the nature of their access.

Then there’s the fact that when we talk about compliance, we’re not just talking about external threats. In fact, U.S. businesses encounter 2,500 internal security breaches daily, whether they’re malicious insider threats or unwitting insider threats (like an employee who opens a phishing email).

Why You Need Compliance Risk Management

As you can see, cybersecurity risk management isn’t quite as simple as setting a non-obvious password. In reality, there are a huge array of players with varying levels of potential damage attached to them.

This is why you need compliance risk management.

It isn’t just that cybersecurity compliance is required by law (hint: it is, and you may face stiff legal consequences for non-compliance). It’s that cybersecurity compliance is a complex beast, and it’s not enough to have a rulebook–you have to make sure everyone follows it.

Compliance risk management allows you to get back in the driver’s seat and take charge of compliance. It allows you to take a proactive approach to ensure that everyone stays compliant.

How to Create a Cybersecurity Compliance Plan

With that in mind, it’s time to get serious about your cybersecurity compliance plan. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Get Training

Knowledge is your first line of defense. After all, $17,700 in losses occur per minute due to phishing, one of the most classic social engineering attacks to trick unwitting employees. So, it’s time to get training.

Keep in mind that training requirements apply to everyone–and that includes your IT department. While your IT team may have cobbled together knowledge about cyber threats based on past experiences, they may or may not be up-to-date on the latest threats, and either way, knowledge of threats does not implicitly translate to a successful compliance program.

If you’re not sure where to begin, focus on two areas: regulations and technology constraints. Look at the meeting point of regulatory expectations and the limitations of your available budget and technology and train your employees to meet in the middle.

It’s also important to train employees on how compliance works together. In cybersecurity, in particular, your IT team and your risk management team should work quite closely.

Assess Risk and Set Controls

If you don’t have a cybersecurity plan, now is the time to assess your risk level. Even if you already have one, it pays to assess risk anyway. That way, you can get an idea of the current landscape.

For example, your security assessment should identify all of your networks, information systems, and data stored in those systems. It should identify where data is stored and classify it by risk level.

Then, once you know what you’re up against, you can set controls to mitigate identified risks.

For example, since data in transit is often less secure, data encryption is one of your foremost controls, but so is controlling user access–otherwise, anyone with the right key can decrypt data that should not be accessible to them.

When setting controls, it’s also important to set a schedule for compliance checks and patch management. That way, security happens on a routine.

Get a Compliance Management System

Last but not least, get a compliance management system.

While it’s easy for businesses to try to DIY to save money, the truth is that you need expert tools on your side. Cybersecurity compliance is a full-time job on top of your full-time job managing cybersecurity and running your business. A compliance risk management system takes the headache out of compliance–instead, you can automate many manual tasks and easily assign compliance work so that nothing gets charred on the back burner.

Your Partner in Cybersecurity Risk Management

We know that compliance risk management can be a headache. We also know that it doesn’t have to be. Our cybersecurity compliance management solutions make it easier than ever to stay one step ahead of risks in your organization–without dedicating hours you can’t spare.

Sound good? Then get in touch today to learn how we can simplify cybersecurity compliance.

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