The challenge to maintain managed IT compliance with all of the data protection and IT security compliance protocols your company is subject to is enough to keep any business owner or CIO up at night. Not only are you required to adhere to specific industry standards and meet client-specific contractual obligations, but there are ever-changing government laws and regulations to adhere to. Adding more pressure is the fact that if you fail to meet any of these required compliance standards and protocols, you could be subject to debilitating financial fallout and potentially irreparable damage to your company’s reputation.
Most small- and mid-sized businesses don’t have the resources to create a robust IT infrastructure. It takes a lot of internal expertise to maintain the levels of data security and privacy-related legal compliance necessary to protect the organization and its stakeholders. Because of the expense of hiring experienced IT managers and staffing a compliance division, more and more small- and mid-sized companies are turning to managed IT compliance solutions to do the heavy lifting for them. Third-party IT compliance specialists can jump in to protect company stakeholder data and make sure the organization meets the myriad privacy-related legal and regulatory requirements that apply to its unique regulatory environment and information systems needs.
If you’re considering bringing in professional IT managed service providers to handle your company’s data security issues, this article will help you assess the resources you need to shore up your company’s information technology infrastructure. After discussing the types of IT security threats and industry compliance issues companies like yours face every day, this article reviews the types of protections many organizations face and how an outside IT resource can help.
Addressing Cybersecurity Threats and Industry Compliance Headaches
Addressing cybersecurity and compliance issues is a multifaceted and monumental task requiring expert intervention and diligent oversight.
Without taking the necessary precautions, the chances of falling prey to a security breach of some kind are high. In 2022 alone, there were 5.5 billion malware attacks reported worldwide, up 2% from the previous year. Over 70% of businesses reported falling victim to ransomware attacks, while companies saw a 60% increase in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. By the third quarter of last year, 255 million phishing attacks had already been reported, many of them infiltrating organizations’ IT systems through business emails.
Along with keeping your company safe from cybersecurity threats, you are required to stay compliant with industry-specific data and security compliance protocols. The failure to do so means risking lucrative contracts, being fined, or even incurring criminal liability. The following offers areas where managed IT compliance professionals can help shore up your company’s security and compliance protocols.
Protection Against Malware and Ransomware
High on your IT department’s must-do list is combating malware and ransomware. Malware, or malicious software, if allowed to penetrate your IT infrastructure, can steal your data and even damage or destroy your computer systems. With ransomware, hackers can hijack your system, preventing you from accessing vital files and information unless and until you pay them a ransom.
You can prevent these types of attacks by implementing security measures like network monitoring for malicious activity, scanning for areas of vulnerability, and then using countermeasures whenever required to combat threats and shore up protections.
Firewall and Intrusion Prevention and Detection
The use of firewalls — the barriers between your internal systems and external forces — is imperative to protect your network from outside attacks. Intrusion detection and prevention systems help monitor your systems so you are alerted if there is any suspicious activity. Both are an important part of any IT systems protection protocol.
Regular Security Assessments and Penetration Testing
Bringing in experts to assess your security measures and identify weaknesses through penetration testing and other methods that simulate breach potential helps thwart malicious actors before they attack your information systems and cause damage. These types of tests should be conducted on a regular basis.
Meeting Industry and Contractual Compliance Standards
Because your business may be aligned with a regulated industry or subject to contractual arrangements that require specific data security protocol compliance, it’s important to stay up-to-date on any applicable laws and obligations and ensure you are in compliance. Examples include the following.
- HIPAA compliance. Healthcare providers have an obligation to take all patient privacy measures required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Failure to do so can result in fines or even criminal liability.
- PCI-DSS compliance. If your company accepts or processes payment cards, you are required to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that covers the technical and operational system components connected to any cardholder data in your possession. You’ll also have to meet the often complex cybersecurity and privacy standards set up by all the card networks and merchant service providers you work with. Along with opening your business up to data breaches and revenue loss, failure to maintain PCI-DSS compliance can also result in fines and lawsuits.
- DFARS compliance. If you’re a manufacturer or supplier who contracts with the Department of Defense, you’re required to stay in compliance with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, a complex set of cybersecurity regulations and protocols.
- CMMC program. Part of the Defense Industry Base cybersecurity program, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program enforces the protection of sensitive unclassified information the DOD shares with contractors and subcontractors. CMMC certification is required if you participate anywhere in the DOD supply chain. Maintaining compliance with CMMC is a requirement to keep these types of contracts.
- GDPR compliance. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is designed to give EU residents control over the use of their personal data. The law applies to any company — whether inside or outside of the European Union — that collects data from someone residing in the EU. So, if someone in the EU accesses your website and you collect their IP address, you must comply with this law. Failure to comply could result in fines and prohibitions from conducting business in the EU.
- CCPA compliance. The California Consumer Privacy Act protects the rights of California residents by imposing data security and use requirements on certain companies and allowing California residents to opt out of data collection efforts. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines.
Access Control and Employee Education
Often, your employees, associates, and other stakeholders are your first line of defense when it comes to thwarting malicious actors. Implementing a security awareness and training program can help make sure that anyone with access to the company network is able to recognize phishing emails, knows what suspicious activities look like, has a structure for reporting problems, and understands best practices for safety, such as using strong passwords.
You’ll also want to undertake regular reviews of your access control protocols to make sure that only people with the right level of clearance can access certain data. Make sure that you have procedures to remove systems access when someone separates from the company and that all access permissions comply with legal and contractual requirements and limitations.
Data Backup, Cloud Backup Storage, Disaster Relief
To eliminate vulnerability to hardware failures, accidental data deletions, malicious attacks, or other disasters, data should be backed up on a regular basis. This not only makes sure you don’t lose everything, but it also ensures that you always have access to the most recent and reliable data. Consider managed services providers with off-site locations or cloud-based storage options for added protection.
Stay on Top of Changes to Industry or Government Regulations
A vital part of compliance concerns keeping up with the ever-changing legal and regulatory cybersecurity landscape. It’s important that your organization stays on top of and implements changes to industry, contractual, or government requirements for data security and management. This is an absolute must-have skill for any managed IT service provider you consider.
Implement a Protocol for Maintenance and Updates
Be sure to maintain your entire information technology infrastructure, including updating and/or replacing all software, hardware, and related components as necessary. This is important to keep your IT systems running efficiently and to prevent system crashes that could lead to data loss and costly repairs.
CRA: Your Managed IT Service Providers in NYC and Beyond
Computer Resources of America is in the business of helping small businesses comply with data privacy laws and regulations and establish cybersecurity protocols. In fact, you can turn over all or a part of your IT management to our experienced managed IT services providers.
CRA’s managed IT compliance division works with companies just like yours to tailor IT management services to your specific needs and budget, building and sustaining technology solutions to solve problems and keep your company safe and compliant. Our “pay for what you need” model offers expert IT managed services at a cost far below what you would pay to create and maintain the level of cybersecurity and safe data management that your business requires to operate and grow safely and effectively.
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