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11 Things You Need to Know about Cybersecurity Compliance

June 22, 2022

8 minutes

2 business people working on ipad and laptop | Cybersecurity Compliance

Cybersecurity compliance is adhering to the rules and regulations set by local laws, federal laws, and regulatory bodies in order to keep data confidential, safe, and with integrity.

In other words, cybersecurity compliance means following the rules of how you handle sensitive data.

Several factors determine if and how businesses and organizations must adhere to different cybersecurity compliance regulations, including:

  • The types of data your business handles
  • The location of your company or customers
  • The types of industry your organization belongs to
  • Any industry certifications you may need

Below we’ll discuss 11 of these factors, including the different types of data, regulations, and laws to establish an introductory knowledge of cybersecurity.

The Types of Data You Handle

Does your company handle consumers’ private or health data? Perhaps your organization deals with healthcare. There are different categories and requirements for the data a business may handle. Some examples of sensitive data that is protected are:

1. CUI is Data Protected from Unauthorized Access and Release

CUI is an umbrella term that encompasses many different markings to identify government-created or owned information that is not classified but which should be protected.

This is information that although not highly classified, should still be protected. CUI requires certain managing and dissemination controls to diminish vulnerabilities.

Any business that works with the Department of Defense must comply with the CMMC level set up to protect CUI.

2. FCI is Information Not Marked as Public or for Public Release

FCI is information, not intended for public release, provided by or generated for the government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the government.

Both FCI and CUI refer to information created by or for the government. FCI is information relating to a federal contract, including the existence of the contract, its purpose, and the product to be derived from it.

Related Blog: The Need for Cloud Security in the Aerospace & Defense Industry

3. PII is Information Used to Identify an Individual

Personal identifiable information is any information that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred.

This definition by the Department of Homeland Security covers personal information. However, if the information is not personal, but can be linked to a specific individual, it is also considered PII.

PII refers not only to the personal information if U.S. citizens, but also anyone who is a U.S. legal resident, a visitor to the U.S., and employees and contractors to U.S. companies.

Examples of PII are social security numbers, drivers’ licenses or ID numbers, biometric identifiers, criminal history, etc. Basically, any document or information could compromise an individual’s privacy.

Several international, federal, and local laws have been developed to protect PII. The most common ones will be covered in the segments below

4. PHI is Protected Information in a Person’s Health Records

Protected health information is information, including demographic information, relating to an individual’s physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual, and payment for the provision of health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines PHI not only as a patient’s current health information but also their past and future information. PHI covers physical information as well as electronic information.

PHI is protected by regulations to safeguard patients’ personal information, but also to allow scientific or medical research to be conducted without compromising individuals’ personal information.

The HIPAA, an accountability act designed to protect PHI and a patient’s personal health records will be covered below.

Geography: Yours and Your Customers

Cybersecurity has greatly evolved since its conception. Currently, there are several local, state, federal, and international laws established to safeguard data. These laws are affected by not only the location of your organization, but also the location of the customers whose data you are handling.

5. GDPR is a Law that Protects EU Citizens

On the global scale, one security law is the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). It is a regulatory framework for data protection established to safeguard the data of EU citizens. The GDPR is not limited to use in the European Union. Any global company that handles EU residents’ data must be compliant to its regulations.

6. CCPA is a State Law Protecting California Residents

An example of a state-level regulation is the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). This law ensures consumers in California are aware of the type of personal information a business may collect from them, and the rights of those consumers to ask for data disclosure.

The CCPA applies to businesses with annual revenue above $25 million, that handle the personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, or that generate more than 50% of their revenue by selling personal information.

Similar to the GDPR, it is important to note the CCPA applies to businesses not necessarily located in California if they handle the personal information of consumers in California.

Knowing which laws apply to your business is paramount, especially if you handle your customer’s personal data. CCPA violations are subject to penalties of $2,500 for each violation and $7500 for intentional violations.

Types of Industry

The Healthcare Industry

6. The HIPAA Privacy Rule Sets National Standards to Protect Patients’ Medical Records

If you work in the healthcare industry, you are likely familiar with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects patients’ medical records and their personally identifiable health data.

It applies not only to hospitals, but to private insurance companies, healthcare clearinghouses, any medical research facility that stores patient’s personal health records, and other covered entities. It is important to ensure your healthcare business is compliant in order to keep patients’ data secure and to avoid any HIPAA violation fines or lawsuits.

Related Insights: What are the Consequences of a HIPAA Violation?

Financial Industries

7. The FCRA Protects Personal Information in Credit Reports

Financial institutions collecting information about consumer’s credit reports must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA protects the accuracy and privacy of personal information inside credit reports.

Since many businesses use credit reports to make decisions, this law allows individuals to review their own credit reports obtained by agencies and check for accuracy. A company that does not follow regulations can be found guilty of willful or negligent compliance with FCRA.

8. Comply with PCI DSS if Your Business Handles Personal Credit/Debit Card Data

The PCI DSS or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards is a set of standards protecting how credit and debit card information is processed, stored, and transferred.

Any business that collects, stores, or transmits personal credit and debit card data must be PCI DDS compliant. Therefore, it affects not only financial institutions, but also any business that handles customers’ credit and debit card information.

Education Organizations

9. The FERPA is a Law that Protects U.S. Students

Cybersecurity can affect even your local public school. For instance, the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a federal law protecting the privacy of student education records. It affects any school that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

Of course, the GDPR and the CCPA mentioned above will affect US universities and educational institutions handling the personal data of EU citizens and California residents respectively. Remember that different laws and regulations will affect your business. There are many regulations in place to safeguard private data, so check with an attorney or a cybersecurity consultant to ensure you are compliant with all relevant laws.

Cybersecurity Certifications

10. Contractors Need a CMMC to Work with the Department of Defense

Any contractor or subcontractor working contracts awarded by the Department of Defense requires a CMMC. The CMMC requirements define a tiered program, and the type of certification an organization needs depends on the type of data it handles, such as CUI or FCI, covered above.

Related Checklist: How to Prepare for a CMMC Assessment

11. ISO 270001 is the Global Standard for Data Security

This certification is the international standard for information security. It sets out requirements for an information security management system or ISMS. The guidelines in the ISO 27001 help organizations use data securely.

An ISO 27001 certification’s body of requirements are not all mandatory. Rather, it depends on the organization’s activities and data usage to inform what requirements it has to uphold.

Knowing what kind of certification your organization needs will not only help keep data safe, but also improve customer relationships, and avoid any costly breaches or fines.

Related Blog: What is Data Security and Why is it Important?

Bottom Line

Your organization’s cybersecurity needs will depend on a number of varying factors. Which industry a company belongs to, its location, and what data it gathers from customers make up some of the deciding factors on cybersecurity requirements.

Cybersecurity laws and regulations are set up to protect individual rights, personal information, and sensitive information that could be exploited by bad actors.

Therefore, it is best to analyze which requirements and certifications your company needs. Consulting a cybersecurity expert, your internal IT team, or an attorney specializing in cybersecurity law can kickstart your journey into cybersecurity compliance.

Ready to begin your cybersecurity journey? This checklist, Cybersecurity Checklist for When You’re on the Go can help your modern company do business safely and effectively.