Cybersecurity compliance frameworks outline the regulatory standards relevant to an organization’s business processes and internal controls. These guidelines and best practices strengthen critical assets’ safety and security while helping achieve other business objectives. For organizations to comply with the top compliance frameworks — such as NIST, HIPAA, ISO, and SOC — it is necessary to understand their requirements and develop a proper strategy. Expert guidance from cybersecurity services can help organizations in security monitoring and creating incident response plans to meet the extensive compliance framework requirements.
Let's explore the top compliance frameworks and their requirements:
The NIST compliance framework is a set of guidelines and best practices that helps businesses of all sizes improve their cybersecurity posture and protect their networks and data. The compliance standards apply to all those organizations that process, store, or transmit potentially sensitive information for the Department of Defense (DoD) or any other government/state agencies.
The recommendations and standards of this framework empower organizations to more effectively identify and detect cyberattacks and develop an action plan for responding, preventing, and recovering from any security incident. The NIST compliance framework comprises five core functions: identity, protect, detect, respond, and recover.
The special publication of the NIST compliance framework mandates continuous security monitoring and automation to maintain ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to support organizational risk management decisions. Organizations must practice security monitoring of systems to map risk tolerance, adapt to ongoing needs, and actively involve management.
According to the NIST compliance framework, the incident response focuses on establishing an operational incident-handling capability for organizational information systems. It includes all phases: preparation, detection, analysis, containment, recovery, and user response. In addition, organizations must acquire a medium assurance certificate to report cyber incidents and conduct a review to understand the scope of the compromise, such as affected systems, user accounts, data, and more.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) are closely related regulations that aim to secure Personal Health Information (PHI) from unauthorized access, dissemination, and exploitation. These regulations define policies, procedures, and processes that organizations must follow to store, process, or handle electronically protected health information (ePHI). HIPAA and HITECH are necessary for improving the efficiency of the healthcare industry, the portability of health insurance, and protecting the privacy of patients’ health data.
The HIPAA and HITECH Act apply to healthcare organizations and medical practices that benefit from the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Regarding the enhanced security and privacy provisions of HIPAA, the HITECH Act includes Covered Entities, Business Associates, and software developers or vendors of personal health devices.
As the HITECH Act requires compliance audits, healthcare providers must review their internal practices and policies to implement security solutions to ensure compliance while offering adequate protection for PHI and other sensitive data. In addition, under the HIPAA breach notification rule, HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates must inform patients and notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) after any data breach.
ISO 27001 is an international standard providing a framework for implementing policies and procedures enterprise-wide for best practices in data protection and cyber resilience. It provides a centrally managed framework to organizations for securing and protecting the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data in various forms. ISO 27001 is essential because it ensures organization-wide protection against technology-based risks and prepares organizations to respond to evolving security threats.
The ISO 27001-2013 standard defines the requirements for an organization to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve its Information Security Management System (ISMS). The standard also includes requirements for assessing and treating information security risks specific to the organization's needs.
The provisions of the ISO 27001-2013 standard are generic and apply to all organizations, regardless of type, size, or nature, for protecting their information systematically and cost-effectively. This standard requires organizations to identify stakeholders and define a security policy and the scope of the ISMS. In addition, organizations must conduct risk assessments and define processes to mitigate those identified to achieve compliance. Also, it is necessary to establish clear objectives for each information security initiative and improve the performance of the ISMS.
The SOC 1 compliance framework secures an organization's interaction, transmission, or storage of users' financial statements. A SOC 1 report evaluates the effectiveness of a service organization's internal controls over financial reporting following the guidelines laid out by the AICPA. It applies to service organizations such as trust departments, employee benefit or retirement plan operators, payroll processing firms, registered investment advisors, loan servicers, and others. However, service providers need SOC reports only when they or their network of service providers engage with public firms or the company's services have an influence on the fiscal data of the public company.
The SOC 1 Type 1 report describes the installed procedures and controls and the system controls' suitability for achieving the control objectives by a specific date. The SOC 1 Type 2 report has the same analysis and opinions as the Type 1 report but also includes the argument on the control's operating effectiveness to achieve the related control objectives established in the description throughout a specified period. The Type 2 report also includes a detailed description of the service auditor's tests of controls and results.
SOC 2 is an auditing procedure based on the AICPA Trust Service Principles and Criteria. It ensures service providers securely manage the data to protect the organization's interests and clients' privacy. According to SOC 2, the criteria for managing customer data follow five "trust service principles” — security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. As a result, SOC 2 compliance is a minimum requirement for security-conscious businesses considering a SaaS provider.
Incident Response and Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery in SOC 2 are essential throughout the Security Criteria. SOC 2 incident response requirements include planning, reporting, testing, and adding improvements to the plan. The SOC 2 Type 1 report details the suitability of the design controls to the service organization's system, whereas the organization's management describes the procedure.
To achieve SOC 2 Type 2 compliance, a company should pass a thorough examination of its internal control policies and practices over a particular period by an auditor. Type 2 compliance ensures potential customers that the organization applies the best data security and control systems practices.
Achieving cybersecurity compliance is necessary for organizations to ensure data confidentiality, meet data management and international security requirements, and avoid penalties for non-compliance. In addition, organizations seeking compliance with national and international regulatory standards, such as NIST, HIPAA/HITECH, ISO, and SOC, can opt for reliable cybersecurity service providers like ContraForce to make themselves cyber resilient.
ContraForce offers a dedicated team of security experts to establish personalized cybersecurity operations plans for organizations. In addition, it helps in security monitoring efforts and develops an incident response plan that allows organizations to strengthen their cybersecurity posture and achieve compliance. With its 24x7 automated security monitoring, ContraForce proactively detects, investigates, and responds in real time to threats, leaving no gap in coverage.