A Complete Guide to Cybersecurity Compliance

Published on : 31 Mar 2023

A Complete Guide to Cybersecurity Compliance 1

Cybersecurity has become a top priority for organizations across all industries and sizes. To safeguard their sensitive data and assets from the ever-evolving threats of cyberattacks and data breaches, businesses must take a proactive approach. Adherence to industry-specific cybersecurity regulations and frameworks is a critical component in building a robust and comprehensive cybersecurity program.

A recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average cost of a data breach in 2020 amounted to an astounding $3.86 million. However, the study also found that companies that had established cybersecurity frameworks and regularly performed risk assessments and compliance audits were able to reduce their data breach costs by an average of $283,000.

These statistics emphasize the significance of complying with cybersecurity measures and the potential cost savings that can be achieved through the implementation of a solid cybersecurity program.

In addition to the potential cost savings that can be achieved through the implementation of a solid cybersecurity program, there are several other noteworthy statistics and facts that further underscore the importance of cybersecurity.

  • The World Economic Forum reports that a staggering 95% of all cybersecurity breaches can be attributed to human error.
  • Fortune Business Insights predicts that by 2028, the global market for information security will reach an impressive $366.1 billion.
  • The threat of cyberattacks is not limited to any one country or region. In fact, according to Microsoft, in 2020 alone, the United States was the target of 46% of all cyberattacks – more than double that of any other country.

These in-depth statistics underscore the exigent need for businesses to place cybersecurity at the forefront of their priorities and take decisive action to safeguard their confidential data and resources.

In light of the critical need for businesses to prioritize cybersecurity and take proactive measures to protect their sensitive information and assets, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of cybersecurity compliance. It covers various topics, including regulatory mandates, frameworks, and practical steps businesses can take to achieve compliance. This guide gives valuable insights into how businesses can stay ahead of the curve and maintain compliance in an ever-changing landscape.  But before getting into the nitty-gritty of the topic, let us first understand  cybersecurity compliance briefly.

What Is Cybersecurity Compliance?

Compliance typically means following rules and fulfilling requirements. In cybersecurity, this involves creating a program that uses risk-based controls to safeguard the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of information. However, various industries have different standards or regulations for cybersecurity compliance.

For example, healthcare providers need to meet HIPAA requirements. However, they may also have to comply with PCI DSS requirements if they accept payments through a POS device. This electronic system records and tracks sales transactions in retail or hospitality settings. Additionally, companies that conduct business with individuals in the EU must adhere to GDPR regulations, while those that meet specific criteria and have customers in California must comply with CCPA.

Cybersecurity compliance is a critical concern for organizations of all sizes and industries. At its core, cybersecurity compliance ensures that an organization hewed to regulatory requirements and standards by implementing robust controls, policies, and procedures to protect against cyber threats. Failure to comply with these standards can result in significant financial and reputational damage.

In short, cybersecurity compliance is not just a regulatory requirement but a critical component of any organization’s overall cybersecurity strategy. Now that we have a better understanding of what cybersecurity compliance entails, let’s delve into why it is so important for organizations to prioritize compliance in their overall cybersecurity strategy.

Why Is Compliance Important in Cybersecurity?

Since 2020, there has been an ongoing series of high-profile cybersecurity breaches. Despite technological advances, security teams continue to struggle with the same vulnerabilities that have plagued the industry for years. The recent cyberattacks on Colonial Pipeline, JBS, and Solar Winds are not fundamentally different from those we have seen over the past two decades.

Cybercriminals have not needed to alter their methods to exploit companies. Ransomware threats are widespread and critical infrastructure is vulnerable. The number of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and government computer systems has reached unprecedented levels. For corporations, ransomware attacks have become a significant expense. What steps can be taken to address this issue?

This is where cybersecurity compliance comes in. Compliance with cybersecurity helps organizations protect their reputation, maintain customer trust, and improve their security posture. It is a driving force behind an organization’s success and defends against cyberattacks. No organization is immune from cyberattacks, so compliance with standards and regulations is paramount for success and security.

However, To mitigate these risks, it is essential for organizations to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity compliance. Mitigating risk includes conducting regular risk assessments, ongoing monitoring, and making timely updates to their cybersecurity programs. By staying compliant, organizations can safeguard their sensitive data and systems from cyber threats while maintaining their customers’ trust.

Cybersecurity Regulatory Landscape and Framework:

The cybersecurity landscape is complex and constantly evolving. Some multiple international regulatory frameworks and standards have been introduced to protect sensitive information and prevent costly penalties. These regulations were introduced to govern the measures that organizations must take to protect themselves, their data, and their customers from cyber threats and data breaches:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):

  • The European Union introduced the GDPR in 2018 to protect the privacy and personal data of EU citizens.
  • It applies to any organization that processes or stores the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of location.
  • Non-compliance can result in significant fines, with a maximum penalty of 4% of a company’s annual global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater).
  • Since its implementation in May 2018, there have been over 160,000 breach notifications across Europe, and the largest fine to date was €50 million.

California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA):

  • The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) went into effect in 2020 to protect California residents’ privacy and personal data.
  • It applies to any organization that processes or stores the personal data of California residents, regardless of location.
  • The CPRA establishes data protection and privacy requirements, including the right to know what personal information is being collected, the right to request deletion of personal information, and the right to opt out of the sale of personal information.
  • The CPRA was approved by voters in November 2020 and officially became law on December 16, 2020.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA):

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a regulation that applies to healthcare organizations that handle protected health information (PHI).
  • HIPAA establishes requirements for protecting PHI, including physical, administrative, and technical safeguards, to ensure PHI’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
  • Between October 21, 2009, and December 31, 2022. Around 5,150 data breaches were reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS):

  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a regulation that applies to organizations that handle payment card information, such as credit card numbers.
  • PCI DSS establishes requirements for protecting payment card information, including secure storage, transmission, and processing of payment card data.
  • Non-compliance with PCI DSS can result in fines, other penalties, and damage to the organization’s reputation.
  • PCI DSS compliance has increased by 167% since 2012.
  • In a 2020 study from SecurityMetrics, only 43% of PCI DSS requirements were met at the time of a data breach.

System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC2):

  • SOC2 is a security framework developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) that specifies how organizations should protect customer data from unauthorized access, security incidents, and other vulnerabilities.
  • The framework is based on five Trust Services Criteria: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.
  • SOC2 has become the de facto standard for businesses in all industries to build trust and unlock sales.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):

  • The NIST promotes innovation, industry competitiveness, and quality of life through advancements in standards and technology.
  • NIST 800-53 is a Risk Management Framework that provides guidelines for managing information security systems.
  • Initially used for U.S. defense and contractors, enterprises have implemented NIST.
  • NIST 800-161 provides standards for assessing and reducing information and communications technology supply chain risks.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO 27001):

  • ISO 27001 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an ISMS.
  • The standard requires organizations to examine their security risks, considering threats, vulnerabilities systematically, and impacts.
  • ISO 27001 helps organizations secure information, including paper-based, cloud-based, and digital data.
  • Implementing ISO 27001 can help organizations increase their cyber-attack resilience.
  • Organizations can choose to get certified to ISO 27001 to demonstrate their compliance with the standard.

9 Steps to Achieve Cyber Security Compliance:

Achieving and maintaining cybersecurity compliance can be a challenging and complex task for organizations. It is not a one-time effort but rather an ongoing process that requires regular tracking and monitoring to ensure that the organization remains compliant with the relevant standards and regulations. To help organizations navigate this process, we have outlined some effective steps that can be taken to achieve and maintain compliance.

These steps include implementing risk-based controls to protect sensitive information, regularly assessing and updating security measures, and staying up-to-date with the latest regulations and industry standards.

By following these steps, organizations can work towards achieving and maintaining compliance in an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

1.  Understand the Regulatory Landscape:

To achieve compliance in cybersecurity, organizations must determine which regulations apply to them. They must carry out a detailed review of the applicable laws and regulations and consult with legal and compliance specialists to gain a comprehensive understanding of the specific requirements they need to meet.

2. Conduct a Risk Assessment:

Organizations can conduct a risk assessment to pinpoint and prioritize their cybersecurity risks. This entails assessing both internal and external threats and vulnerabilities, as well as the potential repercussions of a cybersecurity incident.

3.Develop a Cybersecurity Program:

After completing a risk assessment, organizations should create a detailed cybersecurity program that meets all applicable regulatory requirements. This program should include technical measures, policies and procedures, employee training, and plans for responding to cybersecurity incidents.

4.Implement Technical Controls:

Once a risk assessment has been completed, organizations must develop a comprehensive cybersecurity program that fulfills all relevant regulatory requirements. This program should encompass technical measures, policies and procedures, employee training, and strategies for responding to cybersecurity incidents.

5.Establish Policies and Procedures:

Policies and procedures instruct employees on properly handling sensitive data and the appropriate response to cybersecurity incidents. Organizations must update them regularly to stay current with changes in regulations and emerging threats.

6.Train Employees:

Employees can often represent the most vulnerable aspect of an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. As such, it is crucial to provide them with regular training on best practices in cybersecurity. This training may cover such issues as recognizing phishing attempts, managing passwords effectively, and responding appropriately to cybersecurity incidents.

7.Regularly Assess and Update the Cybersecurity Program:

As cybersecurity threats are multiplying, it is essential for organizations to regularly review and update their cybersecurity programs to address new risks. This may entail conducting periodic risk assessments, conducting penetration testing, and evaluating their ability to respond effectively to cybersecurity incidents.

8.Engage Third-Party Vendors:

When organizations collaborate with third-party vendors, they may expose themselves to additional cybersecurity risks. To mitigate these risks, organizations must ensure that their vendors comply with the relevant cybersecurity regulations and incorporate cybersecurity requirements into their contracts.

9.Monitor and Report on Compliance:

Organizations often work with third-party vendors, which can introduce additional challenges and cybersecurity risks. So, to address these risks, organizations should make sure their vendors comply with relevant cybersecurity regulations. This can be achieved by developing and implementing necessary policies and procedures. In addition to this, organizations must also develop a contract that clearly states the vendor’s roles and responsibilities toward achieving and maintaining compliance with various cybersecurity requirements.

By following these steps, organizations can establish and maintain effective cybersecurity programs that comply with applicable regulations and protect against cyber threats. Organizations must take a proactive and ongoing approach to cybersecurity compliance to ensure the security of their sensitive data and protect against reputational and financial damage.


In conclusion, cybersecurity compliance is essential for protecting your organization’s sensitive data and assets from cyber threats. Compliance ensures that your security measures are effective and meet industry standards. With the ever-evolving regulatory landscape and frameworks, staying current and taking the necessary steps to achieve compliance is crucial. Achieving and maintaining compliance is an ongoing process that requires diligence and commitment. If your organization needs assistance developing a robust cybersecurity compliance program, VISTA InfoSec is here to help. As a renowned cybersecurity consulting firm, our certified and experienced professionals can guide you through your compliance journey and help you build an effective cybersecurity program. By partnering with us, your organization can enjoy a hassle-free compliance journey.

We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the world of cybersecurity compliance. Remember to stay informed about the latest developments in the field to safeguard your organization against cyber threats. Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best on your cybersecurity compliance journey!


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Narendra Sahoo
Narendra Sahoo

Narendra Sahoo (PCI QPA, PCI QSA, PCI SSF ASSESSOR, CISSP, CISA, CRISC, 27001 LA) is the Founder and Director of VISTA InfoSec, a global Information Security Consulting firm, based in the US, Singapore & India. Mr. Sahoo holds more than 25 years of experience in the IT Industry, with expertise in Information Risk Consulting, Assessment, & Compliance services. VISTA InfoSec specializes in Information Security audit, consulting and certification services which include GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, NESA, MAS-TRM, PCI DSS Compliance & Audit, PCI PIN, SOC2 Compliance & Audit, PDPA, PDPB to name a few. The company has for years (since 2004) worked with organizations across the globe to address the Regulatory and Information Security challenges in their industry. VISTA InfoSec has been instrumental in helping top multinational companies achieve compliance and secure their IT infrastructure.