It’s baffling that a significant number of companies, especially SMBs, don’t prioritize cybersecurity and regulatory compliance in 2019. Even more disturbing is the fact that some small businesses think they can get away with the omission. They are treading high water.  

According to the Cyber Risk Index (CRI), 80% of IT business leaders anticipate a critical cyber breach or successful attack over the coming year. The study was conducted to measure business risk to help IT leaders better assess, detect, respond to, and recover from serious cyber threats. From the findings, it’s evident that failure to put measures in place to protect your organization from cyber threats is asking for trouble. 

This article tries to explain the benefits of cybersecurity and compliance for business as well as how cyber hygiene can help in achieving both. 

Why is Cyber Security and Compliance Important?

Threats in cybersecurity

First off, the classic cybersecurity issues such as viruses and hacking remain. Fortunately, most small businesses are defending themselves well against these threats. More importantly, though, new threats are emerging, and organizations must stay ahead of these menaces to remain secure. The latest threats include:

  • Next-generation social engineering: Today, hackers have turned to AI to generate fake audios and videos to fool their targets. These attacks make it extremely difficult to protect original material. 
  • Machine learning sabotage: Machine learning is quickly gaining acceptance in most IT spaces. At its core, machine learning depends on raw data to extract patterns and useful information. This raw data can be comprised, either by insiders or external hackers. 
  • Quantum decryption: Finally, the inception of quantum computing has created new problems for organizations. Previously, encrypted data was safe even in the hands of hackers. You were guaranteed that the bad boys wouldn’t access the data. There’s fear that with quantum computing, encryption algorithms will be rendered useless. 

Benefits of security compliance

Aside from putting in place measures to detect and respond to security issues, it’s also vital that SMBs comply with security regulations to further protect their businesses and customers. There are several advantages of attaining and maintaining regulatory compliance. These include:

  • Compliance helps you to avoid fines

Most cybersecurity laws come with hefty penalties for non-compliance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), for instance, imposes a $100 to $50,000 penalty per violation for non-compliance. 

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) charges a $5,000 to $100,000 fine per month for violation. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), meanwhile, charges companies up to 4% of their global turnover for non-compliance. Absolute compliance will help you avoid these fines.

  • Compliance protects your business reputation

Data breaches can seriously harm a company’s reputation. A breach undermines the trust between the organization and its customers. Your customers are made to feel that you don’t take sufficient steps to protect their information. 

Compliance may not completely protect you from hacking. But, it’s easier to sympathize with an organization that makes a genuine effort to keep user data safe.

  • Compliance is the first step to total security 

Data security regulations do one thing pretty well – preparing organizations for the unknown. For most organizations, maintaining compliance starts with keeping track of the sensitive information they hold about customers. Compliance also requires developing frameworks to access and use that data in a streamlined manner. 

The GDPR, for instance, states that customers have the right to access the data that companies hold about them. Though a bit demanding, this requirement means that companies must know where customer data is stored at all times. 

When a company knows where the customer’s data is, they are better prepared to protect it from malicious activities.

The Role of Cyber Hygiene in Achieving Security and Compliance

The majority of SMBs still carry out their online activities in a way that exposes them to cybersecurity issues. For instance;

  •  Most companies still rely on legacy systems and processes even as they add new-generation features to their operations. Some organizations, for example, still run new generation analytics and automation software on operating systems developed more than a decade ago.
  • The perimeters of organizations’ networks are no longer clearly defined. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), remote working, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have obscured the boundaries.
  • Cloud migration poses an even bigger problem. Businesses are moving to the cloud without understanding the risk of such migration. In the end, most are at the mercy of the cloud providers. 

Cyber hygiene refers to a collection of steps and practices that users of computers and other computing devices can take to maintain system health and improve online security. These practices often form part of a routine put in place to protect the user and customer identity as well as other sensitive data that may be stolen or compromised. 

Cyber hygiene, for example, requires that organizations document all current equipment and programs. Once you have a list of all your equipment and applications, you are then required to analyze each component for vulnerabilities. 

You’ll also be required to create a security policy. Security policies address, among other things, regulatory compliance, software & hardware updates, data backup, and system access management. 

Find a Professional to Help

Maintaining cyber hygiene requires a shift in attitude and culture. It requires a change in day-to-day practices to reflect the organization-wide appreciation of cyber threats. 

This is where cybersecurity professionals such as NIX can help. Boasting many years as a cybersecurity leader, NIX provides the software and hardware necessary to achieve and maintain complete security and compliance. The company also offers the human capital required to implement these solutions. 

More importantly, we’ll equip your team with the knowledge and skills necessary to handle customer data in a way that ensures security and regulatory compliance or simply help to acknowledge the benefits of cybersecurity in business.