5 Simple Steps to Improve Data Security Compliance

Assaf Miron
Aug 22, 2022

Keeping data under lock and key might sound like a simple task - but in reality, many businesses leave sensitive information under the misconception that it is safe. For many, it is a major challenge.

According to Statista, the number of annual data breaches of exposed records exceeded 155 million records in 2020.
The average cost per record breach is $150. While this may not feel too impacting, Research by IBM in 2019 found that the average breach involves 25,575 records. When data is breached, the average cost to a business is approximately $3.92 million.

This is where data compliance comes in.

What is data compliance?

Data compliance refers to the process of ensuring that data is collected and managed in accordance with certain regulations or standards. Organizations may be required to comply with data privacy laws, industry regulations, or contractual obligations.

For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of EU regulations that govern the collection, storage, and use of personal data. GDPR compliance requires organizations to take steps to protect the privacy of EU citizens, such as ensuring that data is collected only for legitimate purposes and providing individuals with the right to access their personal data.

Here is a list of the key data compliance requirements in the US and Europe:

  • HIPAA: Under HIPAA, covered entities must take measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI. They must also ensure that PHI is only used for authorized purposes. Unauthorized disclosure of PHI can result in civil and criminal penalties.
  • CCPA: CCPA applies to businesses that collect, process, or sell the personal information of California residents. Businesses that meet certain criteria must comply with the CCPA, even if they are not located in California.
  • HITRUST: The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) is a nonprofit organization that develops and maintains a common security framework for the healthcare industry. The HITRUST Common Security Framework (CSF) is a set of security standards that healthcare organizations can use to protect electronic health information.
  • PCI-DSS: To comply with the PCI-DSS, companies must take measures to protect credit card data from theft and unauthorized access. They must also ensure that credit card data is properly encrypted and secure.
  • SOX: Under SOX, public companies must maintain accurate financial records and disclose any material errors or fraud. SOX also established the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to oversee the accounting industry.

Threats to Business-critical data

As the world becomes digital-first, businesses are adapting and following their customers. The risk of cybercrime comes with the convenience of conducting transactions and storing data electronically.

Data compliance ensures that there is a process that protects business-critical data and maintains its security and privacy. It also establishes a baseline of protection against malicious actors and ensures a standardized methodology of securing business-critical digital assets such as user information and financial records.

Threats to sensitive data

In recent years, the issue of cyber security has been thrust into the spotlight as the number of high-profile data breaches has increased. While the term “cyber security” can encompass a wide range of topics, at its core, it is the practice of protecting electronic information from unauthorized access or theft. This can include everything from personal data, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers, to sensitive corporate data, such as trade secrets or financial records.

There are a number of threats to sensitive data, ranging from malicious hackers to careless employees. Data breaches can have a devastating impact, both financially and reputationally. In order to protect their data, organizations must implement strong cyber security measures. This includes everything from ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data to encrypting data in transit.

5 Steps to data compliance

1. Keep your data protection measures up to date

When it comes to data compliance, one of the most important things you can do is keep your data protection measures up to date. This means ensuring that your security systems are current, your employee training is up to date, and your data governance policies are in line with the latest regulations.

One of the best ways to keep your data protection measures up to date is to work with a compliance partner. A compliance partner can help you assess your current data protection measures, identify any gaps, and recommend updates to ensure that you are meeting the latest compliance standards.

Another way to keep your data protection measures up to date is to stay informed about the latest compliance news and updates. There are a number of resources available, such as compliance newsletters and blogs, that can help you stay up-to-date on the latest compliance developments.

You should also periodically review your data protection measures to check that they are still effective. This includes assessing your security systems, testing your employee training, and reviewing your data governance policies. By periodically reviewing your data protection measures, you can identify any areas that need improvement and make the necessary changes to ensure that you are meeting the latest compliance standards.

2. Discover and map personal information

Organizations that process personal data must take steps to ensure compliance with data protection regulations. This includes discovering what personal data they hold, mapping where it is stored, and implementing processes and controls to protect it.

Here is a 3-step process on how to discover and map personal information.

  1. Discover where personal data is stored: Organizations should inventory all the places where personal data is stored, both physically and electronically. This includes paper files, email accounts, computers, servers, and cloud-based storage systems.
  2. Map where personal data is stored: Once all the places where personal data is stored have been discovered, organizations should map out where each type of data is located, helping them understand where sensitive data is stored and identify potential risks.
  3. Implement processes and controls to protect personal data: Organizations should put in place processes and controls to protect personal data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. This may include encryption, access controls, and activity monitoring.

3. Manage login credentials securely

There are many compliance requirements when it comes to managing login credentials, but the most important thing is to ensure that they are kept secure. Here are some steps you can take to manage login credentials securely:

  • Use a strong password policy: This means requiring passwords that are a minimum length, contain a mix of characters (upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols), and are changed on a regular basis.
  • Store passwords securely: Passwords should never be stored in plain text. They should be encrypted using a strong encryption algorithm.
  • Use two-factor authentication: This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a code from a mobile authenticator app, in addition to the password.
  • Restrict access to credentials: Only those who absolutely need access to the login credentials should have them. They should also be stored in a secure location, such as a password manager, that only authorized users can access.
  • Monitor access to credentials: It’s essential to know who has access to the login credentials and when they accessed them. This can be done through auditing and logging.

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4. Utilize automation to improve data compliance

Much discussion about data compliance surrounds regulatory requirements such as GDPR, CCPA, and others. Yet, adhering to these regulations is only part of the data compliance puzzle. To maintain data compliance, organizations must also take into account internal data governance policies, procedures, and best practices. Here are five steps your organization can take to improve data compliance:

  • Define your data governance framework.

Your data governance framework should be tailored to your organization’s specific needs and objectives. It should delineate roles and responsibilities for those who manage and use data, as well as establish processes for data handling, storage, and destruction.

  • Conduct a data audit.

A data audit will help you understand what data you have, where it came from, and how it’s being used. This information is critical in ensuring that your data is being managed in accordance with your governance framework.

  • Implement data quality control measures.

Data quality control measures help to ensure that your data is complete, accurate, and up-to-date. This is important not only for compliance purposes but also for the overall effectiveness of your organization.

  • Utilize automation to improve data compliance.

Automated data management tools can help to increase efficiency and accuracy in data handling, as well as improve compliance with internal policies and external regulations.

  • Monitor and report on data compliance.

Regular monitoring of your data compliance program will help to identify any areas of improvement. Additionally, reporting on data compliance can help to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to data governance and privacy.

5. Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability (Commonly known as the 'CIA Triad')

In order to ensure data compliance, it is important to follow the three steps of confidentiality, integrity, and availability, commonly known as the "CIA Triad."

Confidentiality refers to ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive information. This can be accomplished through various means, such as physical security measures like locked doors and safes, as well as data encryption.

Integrity refers to ensuring that information is accurate and complete. This means verifying the sources of data and using checksums or other methods to ensure that data has not been altered.

Availability refers to ensuring that authorized individuals can access information when they need it. This means having multiple copies of data in case of hardware failure, as well as having redundant systems in place.

Strengthen data compliance with Polar Security

In a world where data breaches are becoming more common, organizations need to be proactive in protecting their data. Businesses are under pressure like never before to comply with data privacy and security regulations. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are just two examples of regulations that have organizations scrambling to get their data houses in order.

One way to do this is by using Polar Security, which is an automated data security and compliance platform that helps organizations comply with data privacy regulations. Polar Security is a platform that automates data discovery, classification, and mapping to help organizations understand what personal data they hold and where it resides. This information is critical to comply with data privacy and security regulations.

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