“Security compliance” refers to staying updated with modern cybersecurity standards and regulations defined by some authority group, usually a government entity such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These regulations are put in place to protect employees and businesses and lay out formal guidelines for cybersecurity best practices. It can sometimes be challenging due to all the overlapping industry standards and regulations, but keeping up with them can be extremely helpful.

Why is security compliance important?

Security compliance is crucial for small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) because many SMBs overlook cybersecurity. According to CompTIA, only 40 percent of SMBs implemented cybersecurity compliance while shifting to remote work in 2020, and many SMBs are still behind in their cybersecurity to this day. That makes SMBs prime targets for cyberattacks, which leads hackers to target them preferentially.

For any business, though, a successful cyberattack can cause significant financial damage. According to Invicti, cyberattacks cost businesses in five main ways: response and recovery, investigation, lost productivity, lost revenue, and legal or PR costs. These categories can be distilled down further: cyberattacks can either cause hardware damage that costs money in lost time and repairs or cause a loss of trust or lawsuits due to stolen third-party information. Often, both outcomes may be the case.

How can businesses stay up to date on security compliance?

According to CompTIA, most cybersecurity and data protection laws focus on protecting sensitive data, including personally identifiable information (PII), financial information, and protected health information (PHI). Other types of regulated sensitive information include demographic information, biometric data such as fingerprints, and contact information such as email addresses.

The laws that regulate the protection of these types of information include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which regulates credit card data protection, HIPPA, which protects PHI, System and Organization Control 2 (SOC 2), which protects customer records, Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects educational records, and CMMC, which regulates the protection of controlled unclassified information (CUI) about the US military or DoD.

To practice cybersecurity compliance, stay up to date with these listed laws, any regional laws on information protection, and laws that govern the regions of anyone whose information your business holds. Ideally, this should fall upon the IT team or someone with the time and expertise to find and enact all that information. Most protection standards require technical controls such as passwords or otherwise controlled access or physical controls of the data’s location, such as security cameras.

Much of the information and methodology required for cybersecurity compliance in the US is detailed or linked in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)’s fact sheet on protecting sensitive information.

To stay up to date with cybersecurity compliance, ensure you (or your IT team) stay familiar with digital information laws and ensure your security practices comply with them.