Data security and privacy: keys to regulatory compliance
We’re living in a world that features a multitude of regulations, and for businesses, these rules can be more than just a nuisance. Failure to comply with government regulations can result in stiff fines and penalties, as well as damaged brand reputations. Industry research shows that the cost of non-compliance can be substantially greater than the cost of compliance – as much as 2.5 times greater.
Many of the regulations in place today apply to the security and privacy of data and systems. They provide important safeguards for consumers; for example, some of them are designed to protect sensitive financial or healthcare information against intrusions, such as hacker attacks. They can also provide useful guidelines for companies looking to secure their information assets against increasingly sophisticated attacks.
An important part of complying with regulations is putting in place proper access controls for private data. Personally identifiable, sensitive data about customers and employees is governed by such regulations as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA).
These are just a few of the federal regulations pertaining to data access. In addition, organizations might come under the jurisdiction of more than 35 state-level security breach disclosure laws.
However, many companies continue to struggle with their compliance efforts. A 2015 report by Thomson Reuters, a firm that provides business intelligence and information, showed that “regulatory fatigue,” resource challenges and personal liability are expected to increase. The findings reflect “the sheer volume of regulatory change that continues to be anticipated, as firms navigate both international and domestic rules which have global impact with resulting overlaps,” the firm said.
Many organizations have added more compliance staff, but there is a growing need for more truly skilled compliance officers, the report states. It adds that the costs of skilled compliance staff are expected to continue to rise, but the growing issue is in the availability of high-quality skills and experience.
Despite the talent gap, organizations can meet their compliance goals by using security tools that create limited and closely controlled access to sensitive data. When such technology also uncovers which users are accessing the data, organizations can create more secure environments that are in compliance with regulations.
In addition to controlling access, companies need to safeguard against the loss and misuse of information. To achieve this, they can deploy tools that analyze data with in-depth pattern matching to identify sensitive data that’s at risk. Organizations can easily identify exposures of private information with custom classification tags and policies, including such data points as Social Security and credit card numbers.
Data security software must help enterprises increase data awareness, so they can find and protect non-compliant files that are stored across virtual servers, user directories and file shares. By examining user and file access histories, companies can find out how compliance risks are created, and who subsequently has been exposed to specific information. Monitoring and alerting features notify managers when non-compliant files are created, so they can quickly review and remediate these issues.
Given the challenges and the rising demands of regulations, it’s more important than ever that enterprises deploy the right technology solutions to help with their compliance efforts.
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