In our digital business era, cybersecurity incidents are now a fact of doing business. No matter how small a business is, they all now face a myriad of threats that can seriously jeopardize their ability to remain operational. Which is why it’s so critical for small businesses to create and maintain a cybersecurity compliance plan.
The threats they face include everything from email attachments containing malware to targeted spear-phishing attacks on high-profile executives. They also face a growing web of cybersecurity compliance regulations intended to prevent these threats from spreading uncontrollably and disrupting the entire business landscape.
For small businesses with limited resources, it can be especially difficult to stay ahead of expanding international, government-imposed, and industry-specific compliance obligations. That is, unless they have a cybersecurity compliance plan to guide them along the way.
WHAT IS A CYBERSECURITY COMPLIANCE PLAN?
A cybersecurity compliance plan is a detailed description of the steps an organization needs to take to achieve and maintain compliance with all relevant regulatory requirements:
- At the international level, cybersecurity compliance requirements include sweeping regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to any organization that collects data or targets individuals who are residents of the EU.
- Several state governments have already imposed their own cybersecurity compliance requirements, and other states (WA included) plan to do so in the near future. California is widely considered to be a trailblazer in this regard thanks to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
- Some industries and sectors impose their own cybersecurity compliance regulations to address the unique threats the organizations that operate in them face. Examples include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the healthcare industry and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) in the defense industry.
A well-crafted cybersecurity compliance plan recognizes the overlapping nature of many regulatory requirements and provides the easiest path to compliance based on the specific data the organization for which it is created stores and processes.
CREATING A COMPREHENSIVE CYBERSECURITY COMPLIANCE PLAN
While there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cybersecurity compliance plan, all organizations can follow the same general steps to create one.
Step 1: Designate a Compliance Team
The creation of a cybersecurity compliance plan isn’t something that can be done by an employee with plenty of other responsibilities to handle. Since it’s typically the nature of small businesses to stretch their existing human resources thin, they should engage with a cybersecurity-savvy partner instead.
Step 2: Understand Your Data
Most regulatory requirements are concerned with the protection of sensitive data, so it’s important for organizations to understand what data they have and where. Examples of commonly stored and processed sensitive data include personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), payment card information (PCI), and controlled unclassified information (CUI).
Step 3: Perform a Risk Assessment
The path to compliance can be long and winding, but some of the risks that need to be addressed along the way have a much higher priority than others, so they should be addressed sooner rather than later. The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify all risks that can interrupt critical business processes and rank them according to how likely they are to materialize and cause major disruption.
Step 4: Deploy Security Controls and Policies
Once the greatest risks have been identified, it’s time to start deploying appropriate cybersecurity controls and policies to manage them while creating alignment with cybersecurity compliance regulations. The goal should be to deploy controls and policies in such a way that they don’t stand in the way of productivity otherwise employees could start looking for ways to circumvent them.
Step 5: Continually Evaluate Compliance
The cybersecurity and compliance landscape is evolving at a rapid pace. Organizations must keep evolving their cybersecurity compliance plans—as well as maintain it—to continue getting the benefits of compliance, like enhanced cybersecurity, decreased risk of lawsuits and fines, and improved reputation.
START BUILDING YOUR CYBERSECURITY COMPLIANCE PLAN TODAY
Even though many small businesses are not aware of them yet, cybersecurity compliance regulations are here already, and they concern all organizations that have integrated digital technology into their operations.
Start building a cybersecurity compliance plan today to gain an important competitive advantage in a world where cybersecurity and business are intertwined. Help Desk Cavalry can support you every step of your compliance journey. Contact us to get started.