If there are two things that keep business leaders awake at night, they’re the constant threat of a data breach and failing to meet increasingly strict compliance regulations. In Connecticut, the state Supreme Court ruled that in addition to statutory fines, businesses could also face lawsuits from affected citizens.
It may seem difficult to proactively guard against these threats and avoid the risks without significant IT investments, but with ongoing IT support, you can outsource the burden of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) compliance to a certified third party.
Compliance as a service
Even businesses with a full-time IT technician often handle more data than they can adequately protect. Stringent compliance requirements force these unprepared companies to delay technology upgrades that would boost revenues and client satisfaction. Cloud computing and hosted solutions allow businesses to move protected data out of their offices and into closely guarded data centers, effectively giving understaffed businesses access to a team of compliance specialists for a monthly fee.
However, many CEOs are afraid to leave corporate data in the hands of third parties or assume that outsourcing will not always be an available option in future compliance frameworks. Most businesses begin with a compliance security assessment before signing up for a managed solution. This lets worried CEOs see a managed IT services provider (MSP) and its specialists in action.
If an assessment doesn’t give you 100% confidence that a particular IT provider will protect you from regulatory fines, you can walk away from the partnership. Just make sure the assessment is specific to your industry. HIPAA and DFARS may have many similarities, but overlooking a single difference could lead to big problems in the future.
Simplifying compliance with automation
Virtually every business in Connecticut is subject to some sort of compliance regulation, including those that might not ordinarily apply in their industry. For example, business associates of healthcare providers have access to patient data and are subject to HIPAA and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) legislation.
In another example, nonprofits that store credit card information belonging to donors must be compliant with Payment Card Industry (PCI) rules. And recently, any US company that handles data belonging to EU citizens must become compliant with General Data Protection Regulations. In worst-case scenarios, you may need to meet more than one set of data privacy regulations.
You should only work with MSPs that provide the tools, assistance, and expertise you need to create a custom-built compliance solution. That includes technicians who are well acquainted with the specifics of your business and available for on-site support. Ideally, there should be almost no difference between an outsourced compliance consultant and an in-house specialist.
Protecting your future
MSPs also equip you to better handle changes and additions to your compliance requirements. Let’s say you run a manufacturing company and want to bid for a Department of Defense (DoD) contract. Having an MSP on retainer will drastically reduce the time it takes to achieve DFARS compliance. Or, if you’re already compliant and DoD changes the rules, an MSP will ensure you’re one of the first shops to fall in line.
Regardless of what industry you’re in, you must remember that most data breaches occur because of human error. Your employees should be trained to recognize and avoid cybersecurity risks using industry best practices and automated tools installed by your IT provider. This is one of the biggest reasons there will never be a set-it-and-forget-it compliance solution.
Your IT solutions and the people using them must receive constant care and guidance. A lone in-house technician will never be able to handle that in addition to day-to-day maintenance, especially after your company surpasses the 30–35 employee mark.
You have an obligation to your customers, employees, and the future of your organization to proactively guard against data and compliance breaches, but that doesn’t mean technology worries should occupy the majority of your time. Contact us today to find out more about our compliance and security assessments and other services.