A secure and compliant work environment is what data protection regulations worldwide mandate your business to build and maintain. It must be secure enough to mitigate as many risks as possible and be compliant with every single rule/guideline listed in the regulation. The most important aspect to remember is that these regulations take into consideration your remote work environment as well. No matter how centralized or decentralized your IT environment is, you must prove that you have undertaken the necessary measures to protect the integrity of sensitive data. Your commitment to compliance across all work environments, proven with the required documentation, is the only way you can avoid regulatory action against your business.
Continue reading to find out how you can effectively prioritize your business’ commitment towards compliance with data protection regulations.
Two Unavoidable Pieces of the Puzzle
If building a secure and compliant work environment is akin to a putting together a jigsaw puzzle, it would still be incomplete without two essential pieces – the machines and the humans. If the machines and the humans do what they are supposed to do to ensure security and compliance, your business would remain considerably secure in the face of any major setback.
Although your business may not be 100 percent immune to cyberthreats, it would still be resilient enough to avoid most of them and also recover from an unfortunate breach quicker than one would imagine while avoiding regulatory action for non-compliance.
Now, let’s take a look at the significance of the two vital pieces mentioned above and their roles.
This piece of the puzzle pertains to every device and portion of technology that is a part of your business’ work environment. You must ensure the right devices are used and the right technology is used to secure these devices. For example, if you are a business required to comply with HIPAA regulations, you cannot use a phone system that does not comply with HIPAA regulations.
Similarly, you must avail an identity and access management (IAM) solution to ensure only authorized users access your business’ network through their devices. Let us reiterate that these principles do not just apply to the devices in your office. They also apply to any device used to access your network, even if it is an employee’s personal device or any other device allowed under your business’ bring your own device (BYOD) policy.
Most businesses tend to neglect the human piece of the puzzle after sorting out the technological piece. You can invest a fortune on the right devices and technology but if your workforce isn’t diligent in following the best security and compliance practices, the puzzle will always remain incomplete. For example, an anti-phishing defense solution can warn an employee about a suspicious email, but if he/she still goes ahead and acts upon the email, your business would still have failed to abide by a compliance requirement.
Whether unwittingly or deliberately, an employee can jeopardize the security of your network and data. A report conducted by Verizon found that 30 percent of data breaches involved internal actors. That counts for something, doesn’t it? Your workforce should be appropriately trained to follow security policies diligently and be held accountable for their actions.
As we move on, let’s understand how you can manage these two pieces to ensure they fit into the puzzle and complete it correctly.
The Five-Step Process
To help you complete the puzzle successfully, here’s a five-step process you can follow to get off on the right foot:
- Step 1: Conduct an accurate and thorough analysis of how secure and compliant your current work environment is, based on the regulations your business must comply with. The more comprehensive the assessment, the better. Please do not forget to document this process.
- Step 2: Devise a meticulous strategy to strengthen the security of your network devices with robust and appropriate technical safeguards. This should be aimed at ensuring no device serves as a security vulnerability, especially a remote device.
- Step 3: Develop a comprehensive training program for all your employees, irrespective of their positions, to ensure they are aware of the cybersecurity risks the business faces, especially the threats related to remote work.
- Step 4: Build policies and procedures to ensure both ‘the machines’ and ‘the humans’ follow security and compliance best practices to avoid any non-compliance risks.
- Step 5: Repeat the entire process regularly and strive towards building a culture that upholds your business’ compliance commitment.
Get a Partner Who Has Done This Before
Building and maintaining a secure and compliant work environment can be a long and tedious process, especially given the additional complexities brought about by the ‘new normal’. Therefore, it is only wise to seek help from a partner who has already helped businesses prioritize and achieve undeterred commitment towards compliance. Fortunately, help is just an email away.