Organizations of all sizes are facing increasingly complex cyber threats in a regulatory landscape that’s becoming harder and harder to navigate. To avoid potentially devastating breaches and the equally impactful penalties that accompany them, your organization needs to foster a compliance culture and make it part of its DNA.
What Is a Compliance Culture?
Compliance culture can be defined as the shared mindset in your organization that helps ensure everyone works in accordance with industry regulations and laws to protect sensitive data and the systems on which the data resides.
In the past, small and medium-sized organizations didn’t have to worry too much about compliance because the regulatory landscape in which they were operating was much simpler, and because most cybercriminals focused their attention on large enterprises.
Today, data compliance regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) impose steep fines for non-compliance, up to 10 million euros in the case of GDPR.
What’s more, cybercriminals have set their sights on smaller organizations and their remote employees, knowing that catching a few smaller fish can be just as profitable as catching a single large one—but far easier. For these and other reasons, building a compliance culture has become absolutely essential.
Steps to Building a Compliance Culture
When building a compliance culture, it’s important to realize that bolt-on solutions, while they may certainly deliver some short-term results, are not enough to guarantee long-term compliance and the ability to successfully face rapidly evolving cyber threats.
Instead, compliance culture must be embedded in every fiber of your organization, and that’s possible only when it stands on a solid foundation. Follow the steps below to foster a culture that encourages compliance at every level of your organization.
1. Secure Top-Level Commitment
Statistically, executives are more likely to disregard cybersecurity policies than regular employees. Building a compliance culture in an environment where even the C-Suite isn’t complying with security is nearly impossible, which is paramount to secure top-level commitment at the very start of each organization’s compliance journey, and why the FTC now requires senior officers to provide annual certifications of compliance.
2. Understand What Is Required
It’s impossible for an organization to be compliant if it doesn’t fully understand the regulatory landscape in which it operates, the data it’s required to protect, and the cyber threats it faces. For example, the HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 CFR Parts 160 and 164) regulates the use and disclosure of individually identifiable health information, called protected health information (PHI), and most health care providers, such as doctors, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmacies, must comply with it.
3. Put in Place Effective Controls
Cybersecurity controls are the various measures organizations put in place to detect and prevent security incidents. Examples include antivirus software, firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, email and web filtering solutions, advanced encryption, and more. Because each organization has different needs and faces slightly different threats, it’s essential to avoid one-size-fits-all cybersecurity solutions. Such solutions are unlikely to deliver the level of protection necessary to stop modern cybercriminals. Instead, they may provide a very dangerous illusion of protection.
4. Educate Your Employees
Technology alone will never be able to ensure regulatory compliance unless all employees understand how their actions can lead to costly data breaches. That’s why regular security awareness training should always be an essential part of every compliance initiative, providing employees relevant information about a variety of information security topics to reduce the risk of breaches and incidents. Small organizations with limited resources can outsource security training to a specialized provider in order to maintain focus on core business activities.
5. Incentivize Cybersecurity Compliance
Compliance shouldn’t be an annoyance. To keep employees motivated when it comes to adhering to cybersecurity policies and best practices, it’s important to provide them suitable compliance incentives. For example, compliance can be tied to compensation and incorporated into annual performance reviews. For such compensation to reflect reality, it’s necessary to have in place channels and policies for reporting non-compliance.
How Can Aligned Technology Solutions Help?
The road to compliance can be challenging to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the latest cyber threats and don’t have the resources to determine the most effective way of protecting your organization against them. Compliance experts at Aligned Technology Solutions can make it easier to build a compliance culture by providing you with comprehensive IT solutions, including end-to-end cybersecurity protection and round-the-clock monitoring.
We understand the specific needs of organizations operating in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare providers and government contractors, and are always happy to help them automate their compliance processes. If you think you could benefit from our services, don’t hesitate to contact us.