Using IAM for Cybersecurity Regulatory Compliance
Following compliance laws and regulations governing the cyber security domain can be a challenge for businesses without robust identity management solutions. A solid framework for managing user identities and controlling data access supports compliance by ensuring security across business networks and environments.
Security Rules and Regulations to Know
Each industry has data security rules to follow. Although some regulations appear complex and stringent, the laws are in place to protect personal information from theft, prevent identity fraud and support the privacy rights of users and consumers.
These five key regulations cover the major types of data commonly handled across industries and regulate how to safeguard such information.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
GLBA applies to financial institutions and outlines provisions for keeping non-public customer information out of hackers’ hands. GLBA stipulations aim to protect against internal and external threats by:
• Regulating collection and disclosure of private financial information
• Requiring financial institutions to develop reliable data security programs
These two rules, known as the Financial Privacy Rule and the Safeguards Rule, make up the backbone of GLBA and act as guides for implementing proper financial security protocols.
Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA)
Healthcare transactions and electronic health records fall under HIPAA laws. Any organization, healthcare or otherwise, handling protected health information (PHI) is required to comply with these regulations:
• Securing electronic access to private health data
• Limiting health information access according to identity and purpose
• Adhering to all U.S. privacy regulations
Through these guidelines, HIPAA aims to ensure that access to individually identifiable health information is available only to those who need the patient data.
Family Educational Right & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
FERPA protects the personally identifiable information of students attending all elementary and secondary educational institutions and postsecondary institutions that receive federal funding. Under FERPA, “reasonable methods” must be used to authenticate the identity of parents, students, school officials or third parties requesting access to student information, including educational records. Access should be denied to any individual not involved in directly serving the student.
Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI)
PCI compliance standards apply to any company accepting credit card payments. This includes:
• Brick-and-mortar retailers
• E-commerce stores
• Mobile businesses
To stay in compliance, these companies must establish secure networks for processing card transactions. Failing to ensure third-party platform security can undermine compliance efforts, so businesses should vet all cloud-based processing and point-of-sale solutions prior to implementation.
PCI standards limit cardholder data access to the minimum required for employees to serve customers. This minimizes the risk of data theft and identity fraud and increases consumer trust.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
When the EU enacted GDPR in May of 2018, many businesses had to make numerous adjustments to the way data was collected, transmitted, stored and handled. This multi-faceted regulation is designed to protect EU citizens’ personally identifiable information by:
• Minimizing data access through secure collection and storage
• Requiring consent prior to collecting customer information
• Allowing customers to deny data collection or revoke storage privileges
• Requiring businesses to notify customers of breach activity in a timely manner
• Ensuring data portability for all consumers
Identity and Access Management for Regulatory Compliance
By its very nature, identity and access management simplifies compliance with all major data security regulations. IAM is designed to control users and protect data, which addresses two of the biggest vulnerabilities in business networks.
A reliable identity and access management framework regulates:
• What information specific users can access
• When and how users are able to access information
• Locations and devices from which information can be accessed
Each aspect of IAM continues to become more nuanced over time as technology improves and new solutions appear on the market. These solutions provide greater control over data security to reduce the risk of both insider and outsider threats.
Regulatory compliance requires strict data security protocols and the assurance that users and customers can manage their information on their own terms. IAM reduces the likelihood of hackers accessing personally identifiable information and health data and supports compliance efforts by:
• Creating unique identities for all users, devices and applications
• Encrypting or hashing credential information to provide secure login options
• Controlling privileged account access and permissions
• Automating user provisioning and deprovisioning
• Continually monitoring activity across networks
As they work, IAM solutions track and record user behaviors. This information can be used to further improve security protocols when loopholes or weaknesses are discovered.
Only 69% of businesses use technology to support compliance, perhaps because of the cost associated with implementing solutions. Worldwide, organizations spend an average of $5.47 million just to stay in compliance with applicable regulations. However, non-compliance can be significantly more expensive – around $14.82 million on average – and can cause businesses to lose over $4 million in revenue.
Business disruption costs alone can top $5 million when compliance isn’t achieved. This is more than the cost of productivity loss, fines, penalties and other regulatory expenses combined. While many businesses may be able to bounce back after paying non-compliance fines, a significant drop in profit during the recovery period after disastrous data loss or a security breach can put a company out of business.
Identity and Access Management Concepts for Continuous Compliance
To be in continuous compliance, companies must maintain regulatory compliance and strong security protocols across all business and IT environments on an ongoing basis. This can be challenging for organizations relying on third-party SaaS solutions hosted in the cloud. A business may be at risk of being penalized if a single application is in violation of compliance regulations.
Compliance audits bring shortcomings to light and give companies the opportunity to address vulnerabilities and correct compliance violations. Conducting a successful audit requires reviewing every aspect of security and compliance, including IAM protocols and the nuances of access control policies. Applicable compliance regulations act as guides to ensure every area receives an appropriate amount of attention.
Conducting internal audits on a regular basis supports continuous compliance across networks and environments. Reports generated at the end of each audit serve to inform security policies going forward and provide documentation in the event a company is required to demonstrate regulatory compliance. Once a year, third-party compliance auditors conduct external audits of all departments and may issue fines for any compliance violations they discover.
Because non-compliance fines and penalties average around $1.1 million, it’s more cost-effective to conduct internal audits and implement ongoing network monitoring than to wait for compliance auditors to uncover security gaps. Companies should be continually tracking events, logging actions, managing account provisioning, analyzing authentication procedures and updating data access control measures to ensure the efficacy of all security protocols.
Monitoring and compliance audits must include third-party SaaS and cloud service providers. Continuous compliance requires all parties to follow cybersecurity best practices, including implementing plans for disaster recovery and business continuity. Monitoring software configurations and vendor activity and conducting regular vendor reviews eliminates unknowns and informs future software purchasing decisions.
Staying in compliance with security rules and regulations is far more than a best practice; it’s a necessity for all businesses and organizations handling private or sensitive data. With the right identity and access management framework, companies across industries can meet the challenge of securing data and maintaining continuous compliance.