The risk of cyber attacks is increasing as businesses become more interconnected. Experts project that cybercrime will cost businesses worldwide about $10.5 trillion per year by 2025.

Government agencies and institutions have created cybersecurity standards and frameworks. This is in response to the high-profile cybersecurity breaches. These standards aim to improve cybersecurity by having a collective response to cyber threats. 

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your company complies with these standards. The goal is to protect your data, reputation, and bottom line.

You might be aware of cybersecurity standards and frameworks. However, you may not understand how they protect your business. Read on to discover the main standards and how they reduce your business’s cyber risk. 

What Are Cybersecurity Standards?

Cybersecurity standards are a set of rules or policies. Their goal is to provide guidelines for businesses to improve their cybersecurity. Various institutions are responsible for creating these standards and frameworks. 

The institutions include government agencies, trade associations, and independent organizations. An example of an agency is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a nonprofit organization. It creates cybersecurity standards on a global scale.

These standards are voluntary, meaning businesses don’t have to follow them. But, it’s vital to follow them because they’ll improve cybersecurity in your organization. You can also use adherence to these standards as evidence of due care in the event of a data breach.

Some standards are industry-specific. Others are general and applicable to any type of business. 

For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is specific to businesses that accept credit card payments. The ISO 27001 standard is relevant to any organization.

What Are the Common Cybersecurity Standards?

Now that you know what cybersecurity standards are, let’s look at some of the most common ones. The applicability of these standards to your business will depend on the type of data you need to protect. The standards include:

PCI DSS

The PCI DSS is a set of cybersecurity requirements for businesses that accept credit card payments. Major credit card companies created this standard. Examples include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.

If you accept credit card payments, you must comply with PCI DSS. You’ll need to follow the 12 requirements in this standard. You also have to confirm your compliance every year.  

These requirements protect the whole payment card ecosystem. They ensure that all credit card data is safe.

The goal of PCI DSS is to protect your business and consumers from data breaches. It ensures that you follow the best practices when handling credit card information.

PCI DSS requires you to maintain a firewall configuration to protect customers’ data. You also need to encrypt sensitive data. PCI DSS requires you to test your cybersecurity defenses on a regular basis. 

HIPAA

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It’s a U.S. law that establishes cybersecurity standards for the healthcare industry. 

The law applies to healthcare providers and health plans. It also affects any business that handles protected health information (PHI).

If you’re in the healthcare industry, you should meet HIPAA standards. The law establishes strict requirements for the security and privacy of PHI.

One of the key requirements of HIPAA is to ensure data confidentiality. It also emphasizes the integrity and availability of PHI. You must also put in place physical and technical safeguards to protect PHI.

NIST Cybersecurity Framework 

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed this framework. It provides guidelines for businesses to follow to improve their cybersecurity posture.

The goal of the NIST Framework is to help businesses reduce cybersecurity risks. It’s a voluntary standard. 

But, your company needs to follow it because it’s comprehensive and well-recognized. It will help you identify, assess, and manage cyber risk. 

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework requires your business to identify cybersecurity risks. It also requires you to put controls in place to mitigate those risks. You should also track and improve your cybersecurity defenses.

SOC2

The SOC2 standard applies to businesses that handle sensitive customer data. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) developed this standard.

If you process or store sensitive customer data, you must follow SOC2. SOC2 has over 60 requirements that your business must follow. It also has comprehensive auditing processes that your third-party systems must meet.

The goal of SOC2 is to protect your business and customers from data breaches. It ensures that you follow the best cybersecurity practices. This is especially vital when handling and managing your clients’ data.

SOC2 requires your business to make your systems available to consumers per the agreed terms. You must also encrypt sensitive data. You should have controls to monitor and identify threats.

FISMA

FISMA is an acronym for the Federal Information Security Management Act. It’s a U.S. law that establishes cybersecurity standards for federal agencies. 

The law requires federal agencies to develop an information security program. The agency also has to maintain the program.

You must follow this standard if you’re a federal agency. You must maintain a comprehensive inventory of the systems in your agency. You should also be clear on how the systems integrate with each other. 

FISMA also requires you to protect information from unauthorized access. You must ensure the confidentiality of sensitive information and prevent data breaches.

ISO 27001

The ISO 27001 standard applies to any organization, regardless of size or industry. The standard provides detailed guidance on enforcing an effective cybersecurity management system.

ISO 27001 is not a law, but it’s a recognized cybersecurity standard. If you want to prove that you have a strong cybersecurity program, you can get certified in ISO 27001. 

Some of the key requirements of ISO 27001 include identifying cybersecurity risks. It also mandates you to put in place controls to mitigate risks. You must also undertake regular cybersecurity monitoring of your cybersecurity solutions.

NERC-CIP

You must follow this standard if your business is in the power and utility sector. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) developed the NERC-CIP cybersecurity standard.

The goal of NERC-CIP is to protect the electricity grid from cybersecurity threats. The standard requires businesses to take measures to prevent cybersecurity incidents. You should also detect and respond to these incidents.

Your business must invest in identifying cybersecurity risks. You should also have cybersecurity controls. It’s also vital to scan your cybersecurity defenses from time to time.

GDPR

GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Businesses must follow GDPR if they process the personal data of European Union citizens. 

This regulation applies to businesses that process the personal data of EU citizens. This means that the regulation affects you if your business website attracts or targets European visitors.

You must protect the personal data of EU citizens from cybersecurity threats. You must notify your customers of the data your site collects from them. 

You must also allow customers to consent to the information gathering. This means giving them the option to agree or decline.

GDPR also requires you to ensure the confidentiality of personal data. You should also enforce security controls to protect data from unauthorized access. 

How Do Cybersecurity Standards Protect Your Business?

Cybersecurity standards protect your business from attacks in various ways. Examples include:

Mandating You to Implement Security Controls

Most cybersecurity standards necessitate the implementation of security controls. These will protect your systems from cybersecurity threats. The types of security controls vary depending on the standard.

For example, SOC2 requires you to encrypt sensitive data. The GDPR calls for security controls to protect personal data from unauthorized access. Adhering to these cybersecurity solutions will protect your business from attacks.

The standards encourage you to boost your network security by embracing cybersecurity solutions. You can put in place firewalls and intrusion detection systems. , 

You can also choose other data loss prevention solutions. It’s vital to invest in employee training. The training will help them understand and follow cybersecurity best practices. 

Helping You to Identify Cybersecurity Risks

Cybersecurity standards protect your business by requiring you to identify cybersecurity risks. Identification of the risks is vital because it allows you to take steps to mitigate them.

For example, ISO 27001 requires you to conduct a risk assessment. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework also mandates you to be proactive in identifying the risks.

It’ll be vital to rely on outsourced tech support in identifying risks. You’ll get professionals who understand the best strategies to identify a threat. 

The outsourced experts have the experience to assess a system. They’ll tell you whether it’s at risk of cyberattacks.

They can use the latest tools, such as cybersecurity analytics tools, to automatically identify risks. The tools scan your systems for vulnerabilities and potential threats. They’ll ensure that you’re better positioned to protect your business from attacks.

Enforcing Regular Cybersecurity Monitoring

Cybersecurity standards remind you that risk assessment shouldn’t be a sporadic activity.

The standards require you to monitor your business’s cybersecurity defenses for threats. For example, PCI DSS requires you to be consistent in monitoring your network for vulnerabilities.

Monitoring will allow you to identify and respond promptly to threats. You’ll identify even the smallest security lapse. It’ll be easy to address the lapse before cybercriminals exploit it. Outsourced professionals will have more sophisticated ways of monitoring your systems.

For example, they can use a SIEM tool to monitor your network for threats. A SIEM solution collects and analyzes data from your cybersecurity defenses. It then produces reports that you can use to identify risks.

Providing Guidance on How to Respond to Attacks

Cybersecurity standards protect your business by guiding you in responding to cybersecurity incidents. The standards contain information on the steps you should take when you experience a cybersecurity breach.

For example, ISO 27001 provides guidance on what you should do when you experience an information security incident. It contains a detailed description of the incident response process. The GDPR requires you to notify regulators of certain cybersecurity incidents.

NERC-CIP also provides guidance on how to respond to cybersecurity incidents. The standard includes a cybersecurity event response plan. You can use the plan to control the effects of an attack.

The guidance is essential in helping you respond to attacks. It’ll help you limit the damage an attack causes and prevent future attacks. 

Your IT governance team will understand the necessary immediate response. This will avoid delays that may cost your business.

Encouraging Vendors to Develop Better Cyber Security Technologies

The cybersecurity standards also play a role in improving cybersecurity technologies. The standards encourage vendors to develop better cybersecurity products. Such products can help your business reduce the risk of attacks.

For example, the PCI DSS encourages vendors to develop point-to-point encryption technologies. The technology encrypts data as it moves from one system to another. This makes it difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and read the data.

The cybersecurity standards also encourage vendors to develop multifactor authentication technologies. The technology adds an extra layer of security. It requires users to provide more than one piece of information to log in.

These technologies will make it easier to comply with cybersecurity requirements. The innovation scope in developing cybersecurity products is wide. The standards will guide manufacturers to focus on products that meet general data regulations. 

Stay on Top of Cyber Risks by Adhering to Cybersecurity Standards

Cybersecurity standards are vital in minimizing the risk of cyberattacks in your business. The standards will take your small business’s cybersecurity a notch higher. They’ll encourage you to put in place stronger measures to prevent network vulnerabilities. 

Go over our article to familiarize yourself with the standards that apply to your industry. Follow the standard’s guidelines to reduce cybersecurity risks in your business.

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