The Importance of IT Compliance
Today, security is a mission-critical priority for all businesses. As data breaches become ever more common - even for the biggest of global companies - maintaining customer data security and privacy is a major concern.
IT security compliance imposes significant challenges to meet the applicable industry standards for data privacy and security. While creating systems to address these issues incurs costs, there must be an acknowledgment that IT security compliance also accrues benefits.
Far from merely obtaining the necessary compliance certificate and preventing expensive data breaches, there are seven often overlooked business benefits to IT security compliance.
Protect your business reputation
Data breaches can do untold damage to a business’s reputation. Among the most devastating recent breaches of data security are:
March 2020 - Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, was hacked, and more than 530 million customers had their data stolen.
September 2019 - Zynga, an online gaming company, was attacked, and the personal details of 200 million customers compromised.
May 2019 - Design website, Canva was hit, and information for 139 million subscribers disappeared.
February 2018 - Global brand Under Armour was breached, and hackers took data for 150 million customers.
October 2016 - Adult FriendFinder was penetrated by hackers who stole data for 412 million users.
Before these attacks, several big-name companies fell victim to hackers, including Target, eBay, Equinox, Yahoo!, and Marriott Hotels.
Data breaches unquestionably harm a company’s standing and seriously undermine hard-won customer trust.
Today, web titans Microsoft and Google are replacing existing basic authentication in favor of more secure Modern Authentication. Multi-layered Modern Authentication offers higher safeguards against breaches, and many businesses are now switching to this more secure protocol. By prioritizing security compliance in this way, companies send a loud and clear message to customers about their trustworthiness and adoption of best practices.
Enhance data management
For most IT organizations, the first step in security compliance is an audit of what sensitive customer data they hold. The next step is developing the capability to manage that information efficiently.
Under the European GDPR framework, companies must enable customer access to the information they have gathered. Furthermore, upon request, the company must supply information on what personal details are stored, where it is stored, and how it is used.
Consequently, the onus is on the company to supply these answers by accessing the necessary data promptly. Also, the GDPR compels companies to only gather data from their users who opt-in to data collection. Similarly, companies must also have the capacity to erase personal data on request and halt third-party data sharing.
The result of these obligations is that IT organizations are upgrading their data management handling capacities in ways that ensure compliance and provide tangible business benefits. The redesign of data management is not only supporting privacy, but it’s also improving operational processes.
For example, monitoring data and security compliance help to prevent data breaches and mitigate risk. By purging databases of customers that did not opt-in and enhancing data indexing and searchability, it is possible to introduce further data segmentation. This, in turn, presents opportunities to add value and perhaps uncover fresh marketing opportunities.
Gain useful business insights
The process of implementing industry-leading security will frequently reveal opportunities for enhancing operational efficiency by redeploying personnel, resources, and other assets to greater effect.
Purging customer databases, for instance, can lead to data storage savings. With a clean slice of opted-in customers, it is timely to revisit demographics by comparing the new customer base with the original. Analysis could show that it is time to adjust marketing strategies to suit the opt-in customers better.
Better security on internal networks will help identify shortcomings in people, applications, and processes that are poorly configured in driving results.
Enhance company culture
The adoption of standard-compliant processes for customer data collection is about more than the customers. It can enhance your company culture too.
Having a robust IT security compliance culture permeates the entire company and its greatest asset, its people. By positioning the company as one that takes its obligations to privacy and security seriously, the ethos will resonate with staff.
Companies that treat security seriously and invest in compliance will be able to foster a culture that respects customer data as a given, not merely a legal responsibility. Personnel will buy into the ethos, which will translate into employee loyalty and better internal compliance of company policy on data security and risk limitation.
Support access controls and accountability
An IT system that is effective and ensures security compliance will limit access to sensitive customer details only to those with the appropriate permissions. Security monitoring at a company level will ensure all actions on the network are logged and traceable.
Avoid hefty legal penalties
All IT organizations must be fully cognizant of their industry’s compliance regulations. Globally, lawmakers are imposing ever-stricter legislation. Breaching these regulations can result in severe penalties and fines.
But enterprises with robust industry-specific security compliance measures in place can avoid these risks. Among the most widely-deployed compliance frameworks to comply with are:
GDPR - Europe’s General Data Protection Act, which levies fines equivalent to 4% of a company’s turnover. Alternatively, a fine of 20 million Euros, whichever sum is greater.
PCI-DSS - Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard imposes fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month.
HIPAA - Breaches of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can result in fines of $100 to $50,000 per violation. The maximum penalty is $1.5 million annually.