A quick scan of the headlines makes it easy to see why data protection and regulatory compliance are a growing concern for many companies. The average cost of a data breach is more than $6M. This, combined with reputation damage, is enough to put many companies out of business.
At the same time, securing data and maintaining regulatory compliance has become increasingly complex. On a global level, organizations face hundreds of security and privacy-related standards, regulations and laws, with even more specific controls. While data breaches and network hacks are at an all-time high, regulations are becoming more specific and increasingly strict. To make matters worse, many C-level executives and IT administrators lack the expertise to navigate the maze of government and industry regulations.
So how do you best tackle and invest in compliance without breaking the bank and overloading IT?
Understand Your Assets
To meet the security and privacy requirements of most regulations, it’s important to first determine which assets you need to protect and then who, both inside and outside of your organization, touches those assets. For example, before you can comply with HIPAA regulations for handling protected health information (PHI), you need to identify the various types of information you capture, handle or own and where that data resides. When you understand where your data is, then you can start thinking about how to isolate and segment that data to protect it. It is important to create an application roadmap to see exactly how that data flows and which applications, both internal and third-party, touch sensitive data.
In the same way, if you are processing cardholder data, you need to ensure that you are meeting the requirements of PCI DSS. But to do this, you must first inventory your IT assets for payment card processing before you can analyze them for vulnerabilities that could expose cardholder data.
Find the Gaps
Remember when you were a child and your parents took you to the doctor for a shot? Getting that shot was less painful if you didn’t look, right? In the past, companies could take this approach with holes or gaps in data security. It’s the old adage, ‘what you don’t know, won’t hurt you.’
This is no longer an option. Today, it is critical for companies of all sizes to invest in a third-party audit for a clear understanding of the vulnerabilities within their IT environment. Auditors can help you understand where breaches take place. Seek out a reputable third-party to conduct an audit. When it’s complete, have an open and candid dialogue about the outcomes of that audit and create a strategy to fill the gaps.
Choose the Right Partner
Turning to a reliable IT infrastructure partner for cloud and/or data center services that also has the processes, technology and expertise to easily address regulatory requirements can help minimize the complexities of compliance. For many companies, working with a partner is the most cost-effective option. The provider can alleviate some of the burden on your IT department, which can translate into the ability to devote resources to more strategic endeavors. It also can also cut down on configuration and deployment errors mitigate risk and deliver a near-immediate return on investment.
The compliance landscape isn’t getting any easier to navigate or any less expensive. With the right partner, you won’t break the bank — or go it alone.
Ponemon Institute, “Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis,” May 27, 2015.