Data Compliance: A Guide for Regulations and Legal Requirements

February 28, 2023
In this article:

Below is an overview of some standard data compliance regulations and guidelines from most common to least common.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was signed into law by the European Union (EU) in 2018. The specifications outline standards for any organization that takes personal data from an EU resident. That includes everything from a social media account to a banking application. U.S. companies that interact with EU residents must comply with the GDPR.

Companies must guard personal consumer information against unauthorized collection, loss, damage, or destruction. Not following GDPR requirements can lead to significant fines. Companies can be penalized a maximum of $20 million or 4% of their annual revenue from the previous year, depending on which amount comes out higher.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) covers organizations generating revenue of at least $25 million or who hold the information of at least 50,000 people. Because of its passage, CCPA gives all California residents the right to see information companies have saved about them or shared with another third party. Consumers can sue organizations that violate the terms of the CCPA.

Systems and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2)

SOC 2 are voluntary standards developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) outlining how organizations should track customer data. Criteria for SOC 2 include the following Trust Services Criteria:

  • Confidentiality
  • Security
  • Processing Integrity
  • Availability
  • Privacy

There are two types of SOC 2 reports generated.

  • Type I: Describes an organization’s systems and if they comply with all relevant trust principles
  • Type II: Goes over the operational efficiency of a company’s systems

SOC 2 certification is provided by independent auditors who review how well vendors comply with each trust principle. Cloud vendors, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, and any organization that keeps customer information in the cloud should obtain a SOC 2 report to evaluate how well they protect client data from unauthorized users.

National Institute of Technologies (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF)

The NIST cybersecurity framework (CSF) provides a way for companies to organize their essential cybersecurity activities at various levels, or functions, which includes the following:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recovery

The standards make it easier for organizations to manage their cybersecurity risks, address threats, and learn from previous data threats.

International Office of Standardization (ISO) 27001

ISO 27001 are a series of security standards outlined for IT organizations to help them protect employee data, IP, financial data, and other data assets. The standards also provide guidelines on correctly implementing and maintaining information security management systems (ISMS).

Supplier Security and Privacy Assurance (SSPA)

The SSPA is Microsoft’s in-house program that suppliers must adhere to if they wish to continue associating with the company. Certain program members must also comply with Microsoft’s Data Protection Requirements (DPR) that outline privacy and security controls. All Microsoft suppliers must enroll in the SSPA program and adhere to the guidelines.

Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls

CIS controls outline the baseline requirements to configure IT systems and products. They also outline ways organizations can improve their cybersecurity protections. The goal is to help government and private industries enable IT security best practices and ensure industry-wide compliance. CIS controls operate simultaneously with critical industry regulations like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

The Department of Defense (DoD) manages the CMMC program, which outlines security protocols that contractors must follow. It’s designed to strengthen security compliance requirements outlined in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) program requirements for contractors. The regulations cover how sensitive data gets transmitted, processed, and stored.

Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM)

The CCM framework outlines fundamental security principles for cloud vendors to follow. The guidelines help organizations assess security risks and build robust protections around private data. CCM works alongside other security controls and regulations like NIST.

Control Objectives for Information Technology (COBIT)

COBIT guidelines, created by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), help IT professionals, compliance auditors, and business executives set up and understand information management and IT governance strategies. The most recent 2019 update accounts for newer technologies and current security trends. It works best for organizations that rely on multiple IT frameworks.

Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR)

FAIR is a risk management methodology used to help companies figure out what risks they face regarding their cybersecurity framework. It can be used within any organization to help them assess potential security threats. FAIR examines and analyzes various factors that represent a risk to organizations.

HITRUST Cybersecurity Framework

The HITRUST framework attempts to unify the guidelines outlined in other compliance regulations like GDPR. The goal is to reduce the complexity many companies face when determining whether they fall under specific industry standards. The idea is that meeting the requirements of HITRUST puts companies much further down the road in complying with other security standards.

More data compliance standards to know

  • Information Security Forum (ISF) Standard of Good Practice for Information Security (SOGP 2020): Focuses on providing businesses with emerging cybersecurity issues
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Alliance (IOTCA): Provides a way for IoT experts and industry leaders to create standards around IoT cybersecurity
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Security Foundation (IoTSF) Security Compliance Framework: Designed to offer security guidance for professionals responsible for creating, implementing, and acquiring IoT products
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Outlines safeguards that healthcare organizations and providers must implement to ensure the privacy of a patient’s protected health information, including how it's shared
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Security standards designed to help companies protect payment card transactions from fraud and theft

How to achieve and ensure data compliance: 5 key steps

Use the following guidelines to get your company where it needs to be regarding data management compliance.

1) Identify (all) sensitive data that the company handles

Look at your business workflows to determine which ones handle or process any personal information. You also need to figure out where your organization stores protected information, the current protocols around sharing it, and who’s currently allowed access to those systems.

2) Develop a data compliance plan

Start by creating risk mitigation plans that pinpoint your most significant vulnerabilities. Your company should also establish security controls to manage risks, including network firewalls and data encryption. Update your current security policies and procedures or create new ones as needed.

3) Identify and leverage third-party expertise

Bringing in experts who understand the intricacies of data security can boost your efforts at building a data compliance plan. HyperComply can help speed up the security review process and give you a clear picture of your biggest security weaknesses.

See how HyperComply’s AI-enabled platform can eliminate much of your manual work and help you comply with all relevant security regulations and frameworks for your industry.

4) Educate and train employees

Make security a function of everyone within your organization. Set up regular cybersecurity training sessions for the entire company. Provide your workers with the tools to recognize and respond to threats that could jeopardize your business’s data security efforts.

5) Conduct regular internal audits

Perform regular monitoring of your cybersecurity framework. Obtain reports showing how well your current processes are working and where you might need to make changes to bring you into compliance.

Benefits of data compliance

Better data governance policies put your organization in a better position to make better decisions with your information.

Data protection

Establishing clear rules around protecting data removes any confusion on who should access sensitive information, how it should be processed, and where to store it.

Strong business relationships

A proven track record of protecting sensitive information makes you more trustworthy to your business partners. They feel confident knowing that any customer data shared with your organization will not end up in the wrong hands.

Customer trust and loyalty

Customers are more likely to stay with your company for future business if they believe it will not allow their data to be lost, stolen, or used for unsavory purposes. That trust makes it less likely that they will move to another competitor.

Cost savings

The money you invest in bringing your organization into compliance with industry security standards means less money spent trying to repair the damage of a data breach. You also don’t end up with extended downtime because a hacker meets little resistance when attempting to get into your systems and networks.

Support your data compliance efforts seamlessly with HyperComply

The need for data privacy has led to the development of a wide array of security frameworks, guidelines, and standards for different industries. The goal is to prevent data breaches that could harm companies' reputations, put customers' personal data at risk, and lead to the assessment of costly fines and penalties.

Keeping up with the compliance standards for your industry is much easier when you have the support of a platform like HyperComply. It’s designed to help you quickly identify and fill your compliance and security gaps. Click here to get started on your transformative security journey.