IT Compliance: What You Need to Know in 2021

IT compliance is a priority for businesses that use technology to provide services to their clients. Failing to meet IT compliance requirements can cost your company millions of dollars — or put you out of business entirely. Although many laws are mandatory, they also include best practices for information security that can benefit your organization beyond their requirements.

Today we’ll review IT compliance regulations in 2023, why they matter, and what standards your business may be subject to.

Table of Contents

What Is IT Compliance?

Most IT compliance standards revolve around how companies collect and secure data, along with the availability of data inside and outside your organization.

Internal IT compliance focuses on establishing policies across the organizational structure of your business to secure company data. Conversely, external IT compliance policies prioritize customer satisfaction and protect customers’ sensitive information. Digital tools are used to identify, monitor, audit and report adherence to standards and remain internally and externally compliant.

To help meet regulatory compliance standards, your organization should align with the following goals:

  1. Improving security: Maintain consistent security levels across individual industries.
  2. Increasing control: Implement strict credentialing systems to prevent employee mistakes and internal theft.
  3. Maintaining trust: Keep information safe for customers who entrust businesses with sensitive data, such as payment information.
  4. Minimizing losses: Avoid costly data breaches that can result in millions of dollars of losses in sales, legal fees and data recovery costs.
  5. Protecting customer privacy: Take steps to protect customer privacy by collecting, storing, and using customer data lawfully and ethically. 
  6. Preventing fraud and abuse: Implement controls to prevent fraud and abuse like identity theft, credit card fraud, and money laundering. 
  7. Building a culture of compliance: Create a culture of compliance by promoting compliance awareness and employee training. 

Read 4 Types of Vulnerability Scans You Should Be Performing

Why Does IT Compliance Matter?

Meeting IT compliance regulations is vital for any organization that manages digital assets and wants to do business in heavily regulated markets like healthcare or finance. Although many IT compliance laws have similar information security approaches, you must meet specific requirements for your industry.

Recent trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) company policies and the increased presence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices have made IT compliance confusing for many organizations. BYOD has become especially popular among companies looking to reduce technology costs and offer their employees remote work options. However, this involves more complex IT risk management and the danger that sensitive company data can become compromised.

If you have added mobile devices to enhance your organization, you must know how IoT can affect IT compliance. Many industry associations have developed an IT compliance standards list for IoT devices like Bluetooth-enabled devices, security systems and Wi-Fi.

While IT compliance has a significant financial incentive for companies, you can win more security-minded customers by meeting IT compliance standards. In addition, IT compliance can also help your organization identify gaps in your existing information security strategy that you might have missed without an audit.

Learn more about cybersecurity trends in 2023.

12 IT Compliance Standards

IT compliance laws address data security concerns unique to various industries. Therefore, there is no overarching IT compliance standard for all businesses. Below is a list of the most common IT compliance regulations.

1. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Does your business engage in telemarketing? TCPA laws state that all marketing calls, text messages or faxes are subject to government regulation. 

Telemarketing calls, auto-dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages to consumers are prohibited without express written consent. Consumers who wish to revoke their consent can submit their phone numbers to the National Do Not Call Registry.

Your business can incur fines of at least $500 per text by not obtaining consent, failing to protect consumers’ privacy or not disclosing your text marketing terms. You may also be subject to harsher penalties like class-action lawsuits.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA regulates IT compliance for the healthcare industry, focusing on healthcare patients’ data security. Organizations that manage healthcare data, such as hospitals, clinics and insurance providers, must comply with HIPAA regulations when handling patients’ information.

Failure to comply with HIPAA can damage a company’s reputation, result in severe fines and even bankrupt an entire enterprise.

3. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS is a set of regulations designed to reduce financial fraud by securing customer credit card information. Any business that handles credit card data must consider PCI DSS as part of its IT compliance approach. Not following PCI DSS requirements can result in substantial financial penalties.

Following PCI DSS security measures significantly reduces cardholder data compromise risk while strengthening consumer confidence. Compliance failure may subject your company to steep fines. 

4. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

SOX is a federal law that applies to all publicly traded organizations. It protects investors from corporations’ fraudulent accounting activities. 

Though SOX does not have specific IT requirements, it impacts system security by mandating that you protect financial information processed and stored by IT systems. As a result, companies are safer from cyberattacks and data breaches by following SOX mandates. In addition, there are criminal penalties for failure to comply.

5. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

Enacted in 2002, FISMA was one of the earliest regulations to specifically address information security measures and cybersecurity in the United States. FISMA requires that federal agencies treat information safety as a matter of national security.

This law was updated by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (commonly referred to as FISMA2014 or FISMA Reform) in response to increasing cyberattacks on the federal government. Failure to comply with FISMA can result in loss of federal funding and inability to enter government contracts.

6. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR addresses data protection and privacy across the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). The GDPR’s primary goal is to standardize IT compliance regulation for international businesses operating within the EU and give individuals control over their personal data.

The GDPR requires that individuals consent before their data is processed. Furthermore, all collected information must be anonymous and secure during data transfers. Although the GDPR applies to the EU only, any global company must comply with this regulation to market goods and services in EU states.

7. Good Practice Guide 13 (GPG13)

Businesses in the United Kingdom that want to access central government data must comply with GPG13. GPG13 applies to any organization involved with the U.K. government’s systems and networks, such as government members, service providers and contractors. GPG13 compliance addresses cybersecurity with a focus on log management and security monitoring.

8. Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLPA)

Also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, the GLBA is a United States federal law that allows commercial banks to merge with investment banks and other financial institutions.

Title III of the GLBA requires financial institutions to protect the privacy of their customers’ nonpublic personal information. This information includes Social Security numbers, account numbers, and credit reports. Accordingly, financial institutions must implement reasonable safeguards to protect this information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

9. ISO/IEC 27001

ISO/IEC 27001 is an international standard for managing information security. Organizations certified to ISO/IEC 27001 have demonstrated that they have implemented a comprehensive information security management system. This can help them comply with various regulations, including the GLBA, HIPAA and SOX.

In addition to helping organizations comply with regulations, ISO/IEC 27001 can help businesses improve their overall security posture. By implementing the controls specified in the standard, organizations can reduce their risk of data breaches, improve operational efficiency and reduce compliance costs.

10. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST provides leadership in developing and promoting measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, innovation, and competitiveness in the U.S. economy. NIST also provides guidance and support to federal agencies on various IT security and compliance issues.

These standards and guidelines provide organizations with a framework for implementing effective IT security controls and policies. They can also be used to demonstrate compliance with various laws and regulations, like FISMA. By following its best practices and guidelines, NIST can help your organization minimize the potential for data-related problems and emergencies.

11. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

PIPEDA is a federal law that defines how organizations can collect, use, and disclose personal information in Canada. PIPEDA also requires organizations to ensure that confidential information is accurate and up-to-date.

12. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

CCPA gives California residents more control over their personal information. It requires businesses that collect personal information about California residents to comply with specific requirements. These include providing privacy notices, allowing consumers to opt out of the sale of their personal information, and deleting personal information upon request.

Meeting Regulatory Compliance Standards: 5 Implementation Tips

There are several implementation tips that can help your organization ensure that it stays in compliance. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Identify applicable regulations: The first step is to identify the rules that apply to your organization. These may include laws, regulations, and industry standards.
  2. Assess your risk: Once you know which regulations apply, you must assess your non-compliance risk. This will help you to prioritize your compliance efforts.
  3. Develop a compliance plan: Once you have calculated your risk, you must develop a compliance plan. This plan should outline your goals, objectives, and strategies for meeting regulatory compliance standards.
  4. Implement the plan: Once you have created a compliance plan, you must implement it. This includes putting the necessary policies, procedures, and controls in place.
  5. Monitor and evaluate your progress: Monitoring and assessing your progress regularly is essential. This will help you identify any areas where you need to improve.

Meet IT Compliance Regulations with Helixstorm

Has satisfying your organization’s compliance requirements become a guessing game? Ensuring your business meets the correct IT compliance standards for your industry and location can be confusing. By partnering with Helixstorm, you can observe industry-specific security requirements and compliance mandates, reducing risk and achieving peace of mind.

Helixstorm has a future-focused IT strategy and decades of experience. We can help you build an IT environment that supports your business’s growth while meeting necessary IT compliance standards. 

At Helixstorm, we provide managed IT security services and professional consulting to support your IT strategy and solve business challenges. 

Schedule a complimentary IT strategy session and learn how Helixstorm can help you with IT compliance today.