Unfortunately, the online world is becoming increasingly dangerous as cyberattacks continue to rise. The right security tools and protocols can greatly reduce risks, but some organizations fail to implement them quickly enough to prevent attacks. Many governments and other organizations are now pushing compliance and regulatory requirements, mandating or compelling organizations to take various steps to increase IT security.
Some industries and companies face more stringent regulations than others. A local mom & pop coffee shop almost certainly won’t face as strict of cybersecurity requirements as a large hospital. Among other things, that hospital will likely be using and storing sensitive data, such as medical records. Further, if hackers knock out the power or internal systems in a hospital, people could be hurt or even die. The stakes typically won’t be so high at a coffee shop.
Government agencies and hospitals operate in particularly complex environments and many strict security compliance regimes are already in place. Companies in many other industries may not face such extensive compliance requirements. That said, compliance may still be a major concern and IT security should always be a priority.
You’ll find some of the best tools for addressing both compliance and IT security risks below. Of course, this list is far from complete, but it does make for a great start.
Make Sure You Have the Right Grade Tools
Whatever the industry, it’s important to have security measures in place. Yet while a coffee shop might be fine with a good Point-of-Sales (POS) system and up-to-date computers, a healthcare facility, government defense contractors, and various other organizations will need more robust tools.
If you’re looking to get involved in government contracting work or are already working in a sector like healthcare, it’s important to find software solution providers who are familiar with these industries. Off-the-shelf solutions from companies and individuals outside of the industry may simply not be up to snuff.
Remember, the stakes are high and if you fail to meet your obligations, it could result in severe consequences, including a ruined career or even a bankrupted business or organization.
Control, Monitor, and Delegate Access With Robust IAM Tools
Sometimes, scandals will make the headlines after a government employee or contractor shares sensitive data with media outlets, the public, foreign governments, and other parties. In many (but not all) of these cases, one of the major failures was a lack of proper access control. In other words, someone got hold of data, technologies, or whatever else that they should have never been able to access in the first place.
Access control is one of the most important concepts in security. Essentially, with access control, you will try to limit access to various resources, such as medical records, technical info for cutting-edge technologies, internal email systems, databases, and payment methods, among many other things. Lax access control often leads to breaches and leaks.
Fortunately, modern IAM solutions now make it easier to offer more granular controls while also maintaining extensive records. Of course, not every IAM solution has been designed and built equally, but high-grade secure IAM software can greatly mitigate risks while making compliance more approachable.
Don’t Forget the Human Factor
Did you know that human error is responsible for or at least a considerable contributing factor for perhaps 95 percent or more of cyberattacks? Rather than cracking code, many criminals will simply focus on trying to get people to hand over their passwords and other bits of documentation. This is often done through social engineering tactics, like phishing.
With phishing, a criminal will appear to be a legitimate authority. The hacker might claim to work for the IT department or CEO suite at a hospital. Then they can ask employees for passwords to email, databases, and various other systems. If hospital employees hand over the credentials, they could expose vast amounts of sensitive data.
The human factor should never be overlooked, and one of the most important tools for combating cybersecurity is proper training. It is crucial to raise awareness.
Potential compliance and security training topics could include:
- How to recognize so-called phishing attempts.
- How human errors lead to breaches (along with case studies).
- Why it’s important to update software and avoid suspicious software.
- Proper documentation practices and the consequences of failing to follow protocols.
- Procedures for ensuring that vulnerable data is properly secured.
When you think of tools, your mind might first wander to software platforms, or perhaps hardware features. Certainly, these are important. However, training can be just as important, if not more so. Any company should consider proper training to ensure good security measures, proper documentation, how to protect company data, and so on.
Any organization that works with sensitive information, such as a government agency or a hospital, should be doubly careful when ensuring compliance, proper IT security, and all the rest.
Bring Knowledge to Bear Via Regular, Effective Communication
Employee training programs can be very useful for ensuring compliance. That said, formal programs aren’t the only option for ensuring compliance. It’s smart to set up newsletters, publish blog posts, and otherwise create and disseminate information regarding compliance, security (including cybersecurity), and other vital topics.
Government rules and regulations get updated from time to time. If relevant laws have changed, it’s smart to make sure that all relevant parties have been informed. Meanwhile, security risks are ever evolving and if people don’t keep up with the changing environment, sensitive data, like medical records, could be put at risk.
Further, sometimes folks make simple mistakes. Handled properly, a simple mistake can become a learning experience. You may consider sharing examples, either fictional or based on real-world incidents, to illustrate compliance violations and how to avoid them. (Of course, when using real-world information, make sure any communications are themselves in compliance.)
Use Thorough Security Compliance Documentation Tools
Hospitals and other organizations can now use compliance documentation solutions that make the whole process of documenting compliance much easier. Some organizations may end up facing a security audit, perhaps from their parent organization, the government, or another relevant authority. Documenting compliance can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have the right tools.
The right tools will often streamline collecting, storing, and presenting information, including compliance efforts and incidents. Some tools also offer automation features, which in turn can reduce burdens on IT staff and others. The less time spent on putting together documentation, the more time IT professionals can spend actually ensuring compliance and robust security.
That said, documentation is important and it’s unwise to cut corners. Fortunately, the right IT compliance tools can both increase security while reducing burdens on staff.
Consider Local Backup Systems
More and more software are moving to the cloud. From simple word processing tools, like Microsoft Word, to robust secure IAM software, you can frequently find Software-as-a-Service offerings. These tools are great because they often automate many hassles, like installing updates.
Having SaaS as a plan A makes perfect sense. That said, it’s also wise to have a Plan B. In some cases, backing up, securing, and storing data is mandated by legal frameworks, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, even if backing data up is required for compliance, organizations may have leeway in deciding how to actually carry out the backups.
Having at least one local, physical backup system is smart. You might also consider making multiple backups and then having at least some of them disconnected from the World Wide Web. This makes it harder (but not impossible) for cybercriminals to target you.
Compliance is a Must but Doesn’t Have to be a Burden
Every healthcare organization, government agency, and other party working with sensitive data should take steps to secure said data. Otherwise, stakeholders, including everyday citizens and patients, could suffer heightened risks. Regulatory environments and compliance requirements have helped increase safety, but safety still depends on human effort.
While securing data, reducing IT threats, and ensuring compliance all take effort, it’s crucial that every organization puts in the needed elbow grease. A breach can cost millions of dollars, and in healthcare settings, security issues could lead to increased mortality rates and worse overall patient outcomes. In the defense industry, leaks could put society at large in danger.
By implementing the right tools and procedures, it may be possible to not only ensure compliance, but also to reduce strain on staff, including IT departments, cybersecurity experts, medical practitioners, administrative officers, and more. A well-thought, holistic approach to compliance, access management, and other important processes ultimately reduces risks.
Whatever the Specific Tools, Stay Updated as New Threats Emerge
Staying updated is crucial. This includes both in terms of making sure that software is up-to-date, and also, that your staff is aware of emerging threats, shifting compliance requirements, and more. It’s smart to regularly audit your own security efforts and protocols. When weaknesses or gaps are discovered, address them quickly before unscrupulous parties take advantage of the same gaps.
Often, compliance requirements stipulate that organizations should regularly review and update their security procedures as necessary to mitigate risks. Even if a company doesn’t face such requirements, it’s still wise to do so. The right moves now could save a lot of money while reducing stress and encouraging productivity.
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