IT Compliance: What You Need to Know in 2021

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 what IT compliance is, why it matters, and what regulations your business may be subject to.

What is IT Compliance?

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

Internal IT compliance focuses on establishing policies across the organizational structure of a business to secure company data. External 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 compliant.

To meet regulatory compliance standards, your organization must be in alignment with these four goals:

  1. Improve security: Maintain consistent security levels across individual industries.
  2. Increase control: Implement strict credentialing systems to prevent employee mistakes and internal theft.
  3. Maintain trust: Keep information safe for customers who entrust businesses with sensitive data, such as payment information.
  4. Minimize losses: Avoid costly data breaches that can result in millions of dollars of losses in sales, legal fees and data recovery costs.

Why Does IT Compliance Matter?

Meeting IT security and compliance regulations is essential 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, it is critical that you meet specific requirements for your industry.

Recent trends like BYOD company policies and the increased presence of IoT devices have made IT compliance challenging and 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 compliance standards for IoT devices like Bluetooth-enabled devices, security systems and Wi-Fi.

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

7 IT Compliance Standards

IT compliance laws address data security concerns unique to various industries. Therefore, there is no single 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 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 up to and including class-action lawsuits.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA regulates IT compliance for the healthcare industry with a focus on healthcare patients’ data security. Any organization that manages healthcare data, such as hospitals, clinics and insurance providers, must comply with HIPAA regulations when handling their 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)

The PCI Standard, or 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 their 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)

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or 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. Companies are safer from cyberattacks and data breaches by following SOX mandates. 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 that specifically addressed 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 into 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.  All collected information must be anonymous and secure during any 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 Good Practice Guide 13, or GPG13. GPG13 applies to any organization involved with the U.K. government’s systems and networks, such as members of government, service providers and contractors.

GPG13 compliance addresses cybersecurity with a focus on log management and security monitoring.

Meet IT Compliance Regulations with Helixstorm

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 24/7 managed IT support 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.