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Organizations constantly gather and store our personal data, whether we like it or not. The recent scandal around Cambridge Analytica and Facebook highlights how vulnerable our personal data is and the importance of protecting it.

For this reason, governments and by industries have put in place notable data protection regulation laws like HIPAA, GDPR, PCI-DSS, SOX, and CCPA. This article reviews these five data compliance standards and tips on how to implement them in your organization.


  1. What is Data Compliance?

    Organizations need to handle and secure sensitive data like customer credit card details, and employee home addresses. Data privacy laws and regulations ensure that an organization is capable of protecting this data against a breach. There are different types of data security regulations at national, regional, and global levels. Organizations that do not comply with these regulations can face steep fines.

  2. What Does It Mean to Be Compliant?

    Data compliance means creating policies and workflows for data security and protection. These policies must be in line with the laws in your operating location. Data security is essential in building a trusting relationship with clients around the world. 

    Your customers need to be confident that you do everything you can to protect their sensitive information. However, complying with local regulations is just the beginning for data protection. You should do everything you can to keep information secure for international markets as well.

  3. Data Compliance Standards

    The following data compliance standards can help you create policies for data security and protection.


    General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced on May 25th 2018 and it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive standards in Europe. GDPR outlines a variety of rules regarding the personal information companies can collect, how companies should process this data, and strict rules on the reporting of breaches.

    GDPR is not limited to companies based in Europe. International companies that do business in Europe are also required to comply with GDPR laws. The majority of rules can be described by three basic principles—reducing the amount of data you hold, obtaining consent, and ensuring the rights of data subjects.


    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) states how US healthcare and medical data organizations need to ensure the confidentiality and safety of patient records.

    HIPAA ensures that all electronic health records are encrypted and have strong access controls. You can access these records only if you have valid reasons for viewing them. The standards also apply to sharing records. Therefore, you have to monitor, protect and control activities like emails and file transfers.


    The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is an essential part of any compliance process in companies dealing with customers’ financial information. PCI DSS outlines rules regarding how companies protect and handle sensitive data like credit card numbers.

    PCI DSS is not a government-mandated set of rules, rather an industry one. However, companies that do not comply with this standard may face heavy fines. Moreover, banks may terminate with non-compliant companies, making it impossible to accept credit card payments.

    The steps businesses have to take to protect payment information depends on how many transactions they actually process. Companies with a big customer base will face much more strict requirements than small companies. Ultimately, PCI DSS standards require businesses of all sizes to ensure a certain level of security.


    The California Consumer Privacy (CCPA) act was passed into law in 2018 and came into force on January 1st 2020. CCPA takes a broader view than the GDPR of what constitutes private data. Consumers can demand to see all the information a company has saved on them, as well as a full list of all the third parties that received your information. CCPA also enables consumers to take legal actions if the privacy policies are violated, even if there is no breach.

    CCPA compliance applies only to companies that have gross annual revenues above $25 million, businesses that derive 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information, or companies that buy, receive, or sell personal information of 50,000 or more consumers.


    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) is aimed to protect companies and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent activities in organizations. In addition, the act improves the accuracy of corporate disclosures by setting deadlines for compliance and publishes rules on requirements.

    The SOX standard makes sure that IT departments automate financial reporting and set up alerts on events that require closer attention. These alerts enable the CEO and CFO to receive real-time reporting on the firm’s financials

    IT teams are also responsible for properly retaining all financial records. Therefore, IT departments have to periodically backup any sensitive information and document management systems to remain compliant with SOX regulations. They also need to ensure they have full visibility into every digital system in the company to make this more effective.

  4. 4 Top Data Compliance Tips

    Consider the following tips when you are planning to implement one of the data compliance standards mentioned above.

    1. Create an incident response plan

    Organisations maintaining GDPR compliance must report on any personal data breaches to the relevant authority within 72 hours of detection. Therefore, organisations need to have an incident response plan in place in order to quickly respond to any incident.


    The incident response plan should describe the steps you have to take in case of an event. An organization should define who is responsible for making decisions and managing the incident. AN incident response plan can help educate and inform staff, reduce any potential financial impact of a major incident, improve organisational structures, and improve customer and stakeholder relationship.

    2. Train you staff 

    According to GDPR, employees need to receive periodic information security staff awareness training. This training ensures that your staff is informed about the regulations, company policies, and the legal requirements that apply to their day to day role.

    Organisations need to prove that staff have read and understood GDPR Policies. Organizations need to provide this evidence prove that privacy and security is an integral part of their day to day business.

    3. Implement an effective policy management system

    Traditional methods of corporate communication like emails makes compliance an impossible task. A policy management system, on the other hand is an easy to use, centralised solution for creating, distributing and storing important policy documents. 

    A dedicated policy management software can effectively target the areas that present the highest risk to data security, streamline internal processes, and demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements. In addition, an effective policy management system provides a consistent method for policy creation, adds structure to company procedures and makes simplisafe compliance monitoring.

    4. Defend all access points

    Organisations must ensure that all endpoints are protected to achieve full GDPR compliance. However, unpatched systems are responsible for many data breaches. Patches and updates are essential to discovery of new vulnerabilities. Attackers can exploit new vulnerabilities to break into an unpatched system. 

    Organisations need to show they are doing everything they can to secure their systems in order to demonstrate compliance with regulations. Organisations have to document every patch they implement because auditors may demand reports of applied patches. Patches keep your  systems up to date, stable and safe from security threats.

  5. Conclusion

    In today’s world, data compliance and security are essential for survival. The widespread regulations of compliance standards across the world enables businesses to review their security posture and implement effective strategies that will protect their companies from data breaches, and avoid fines for noncompliance with data privacy regulation.

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