Over the years, cyberattacks have grown in number and complexity. In response to this threat, the government of the United States and many other countries have put in place various compliance regulations and frameworks, such as:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – applies to healthcare providers, health plan companies, and organizations that manage protected health information
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act – applies to all publicly traded companies in the US and wholly-owned subsidiaries and foreign companies that are publicly traded and conduct business in the US
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – applies to companies that offer financial products or services such as insurance, loans, or financial or investment advice
- Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) – apply to Department of Defense contractors and subcontractors
- Federal Information Security Management Act – applies to organizations that possess, manage, or have access to federal information on behalf of an agency
- National Institute of Standards and Technology 800-171 – applies to all organizations that work with the federal government
- General Data Protection Regulation – applies to businesses operating within the European Union (EU) and those that offer services or goods to people or businesses in the EU
Companies must meet all the compliance requirements they are subject to in order to prove that they are capable of fending off cyberthreats. Noncompliance could result in hefty penalties or even criminal charges.
Unfortunately, small- and medium-sized businesses usually struggle with compliance since they lack the necessary in-house expertise. They typically cannot afford to employ a chief information security officer (CISO), whose annual salary ranges from $216,939 to $286,927.
The good news is that you can leverage virtual CISO (vCISO) services. A vCISO is a cybersecurity expert who performs the same tasks as a CISO but on a need-to basis. This means vCISO services cost a mere fraction of what you'll spend if you employ a full-time CISO.
In this blog post, we will tackle the ways a vCISO can help your company stay on top of your compliance requirements.
Conducting gap assessments
A vCISO evaluates your company’s existing security policies, procedures, and measures against the government compliance requirements you are subject to. This allows them to identify gaps in your security posture and recommend ways to remediate these.
Creating, reviewing, and updating security policies and processes
A vCISO develops the necessary security policies and processes to meet your company’s compliance requirements. For example, if your organization is subject to HIPAA, the vCISO will create policies and procedures regarding matters like:
- Who has access to electronic protected health information (ePHI) and how to verify their identity
- How to ensure ePHI is not improperly altered or destroyed
- How electronic devices that contain ePHI will be transferred, removed, disposed of, or reused while ensuring the security of ePHI
If your company already has existing policies, the vCISO will review and update them if necessary.
Recommending and implementing security measures
A vCISO deploys hardware, software, and/or security measures that your company is required to have. For example, companies that are subject to DFARS and CMMC are expected to implement the following:
- Encryption – scrambles data to make it unreadable to parties that do not have the decryption key
- Data backup and disaster recovery – creates copies of data so that it can be restored in case of a data loss event
- External vulnerability scanning – pinpoints and evaluates holes in a company network's firewall that malicious outsiders can infiltrate and use to attack the network
- Dark web monitoring – tracks activities on the dark web and flags potential threats to an organization
- Security information and event management – collects and uses log data from various sources to analyze activity logs and send alerts when suspicious activity is detected
Training staff on cybersecurity
Most compliance standards require businesses to provide their employees with periodic security awareness training. For example, HIPAA demands annual training, while DFARS calls for quarterly or biannual training.
A vCISO can conduct these training programs as frequently as necessary. Using lectures, cyberattack simulation exercises, and other training methods, the vCISO teaches your employees about cybersecurity best practices and empowers them to identify and respond to potential threats. During the training, the vCISO also discusses your company's IT security policies, standards, and procedures.
Monitoring compliance with necessary regulations and frameworks
Achieving regulatory compliance is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and updating. Therefore, to ensure that your company always stays compliant, a vCISO regularly does the following:
- Conducts gap assessments
- Revisits your security policies, procedures, and measures
- Holds security meetings with your company’s stakeholders
When you leverage Charles IT’s vCISO services, you can be sure that your business stays on top of your compliance requirements. Schedule a consultation with us today!