No matter what business you’re in, if you possess digital assets, hold consumer data, have employees, or handle private communications – you automatically have legal obligations. Failure to comply can have far-reaching consequences for your company and its customers.
Whatever the size of your organization – whether you have an entire compliance department, a dedicated compliance officer, or a founder with responsibility for regulatory compliance – getting it right can be a real challenge. But armed with the right knowledge and the right solutions, staying compliant can be a lot easier.
In this blog post, we take a closer look at regulatory compliance, what it is, why being compliant benefits your business, and how you can safeguard sensitive data.
What It Is
Regulatory compliance refers to the steps an organization must take in order to comply with various regulations around human safety, and the collection, storage, and sharing of personal and sensitive data. Failure to comply with regulatory compliance can lead to financial penalties and fines – alongside long-lasting and sometimes irreparable reputational damage.
The ever-increasing volume of regulations – especially for businesses operating on the global market – means that there comes a point when most companies appoint compliance staff with the sole responsibility of ensuring adherence to strict and complex legal and regulatory requirements.
Why It’s Important
It’s fair to say that for many people, regulatory compliance is a necessary evil, adding inconvenient layers of procedures and protocols. On the surface, compliance can seem like an unwelcome and costly distraction from your core business.
But think of it another way. Just because something’s mandatory, that doesn’t mean it can’t add value to your business. This is especially true, when it comes to handling data. So here are three reasons why it’s important:
1. Data Breaches And Cyberattacks
Data is the new gold. Businesses in every sector realize the potential of doing more with their data, from getting closer to customers to spotting gaps in the market. Viewing data as a commodity with tangible value, it’s easy to see why it might be desirable to hackers.
The good news is that regulatory compliance is one step ahead. It knows the data you hold is valuable, and it’s actively encouraging you to prevent a costly data breach or succumb to a cyberattack. Your efforts to be compliant, can reward you with more secure data.
2. Better Quality Data
It goes without saying that when you need to be on top of how you collect, store, and share your data, you’re going to be much more focussed on its quality. That’s because to uphold the standards set out by regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you need quality assurance. It’s also a necessity if you want to ensure business continuity in the wake of an event that impacts your business-as-usual.
3. Compliance Builds Trust
For commercial customers and individual consumers alike, trust is an important piece in their relationship with your company. Around the world, there are deep-rooted concerns about data privacy online, especially when it comes to being tracked and targeted with ads.
In many countries, around 90% of people say online privacy is important to them. Regulatory compliance gives you, your employees, and your customers, the confidence to trust that data is secure and ethically handled.
The Value Of Getting It Right
We’ve already touched upon some of the business benefits of regulatory compliance. One of the most obvious returns on investment is that you can avoid hefty fines. For example, as of July 2022 Amazon Europe had received fines of over €700 million for breaches of the GDPR. But that’s not the only reason to get it right. Here are five business benefits:
- Mitigate malware and misuse by following cybersecurity standards.
- Avoid downtime and interruption to your operations with robust recovery processes.
- Protect your brand reputation. Regulatory compliance is your insurance policy.
- Eliminate the financial and reputational penalties of a data breach.
- Reduce the likelihood of legal proceedings as a result of non-compliance.
Common Regulatory Requirements
Depending on where and how it operates, every business is faced with a variety of regulatory requirements. In most cases, it pays to bring in an outside expert to help you understand what’s needed for you to properly comply. Common regulatory requirements include:
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation): The world’s most stringent legal framework for keeping the personal data of EU citizens safe.
- CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act): Gives California consumers greater control over their personal information when it’s collected by businesses.
- PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard): Widely accepted policies and procedures for ensuring the security of card transactions.
- HIPAA (Health Insurance And Accountability Act): Regulatory standards defining the lawful use of protected health information in the US.
How To Stay Compliant
Companies hire Compliance Officers for a reason. There are numerous ever-changing regulatory requirements to meet, depending on which country and which industry you’re operating in. Here’s some general advice for ensuring you stay compliant:
- Identify the relevant regulations for your industry and location. These are likely to span different levels: local, national, and international.
- Determine the requirements of each applicable regulation and know where you meet the requirements and where you need to take action in order to be fully compliant.
- Document your compliance journey and map your processes to the relevant standards. This is especially useful for when you’re faced with an audit.
- Stay up to date with the latest regulations. They can and will change regularly, and your employees must be trained accordingly.
Keep Your Company’s Data Safe And Compliant
When you’re working with large volumes of personal and sensitive data right across your organization, it’s not easy to maintain regulatory compliance, and customer trust. It can be especially challenging when you need to make use of data for development, testing, and analytics. How can you ensure it’s secure and not vulnerable to a costly breach?
Masking the structured and unstructured data in your databases and assets is a convenient way to retain and utilize realistic looking data, whilst keeping real values securely locked down. ABMartin has over 100 years of collective experience in implementing data privacy solutions, and we’re a trusted IBM partner.
If you’re looking to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, we’re the people to speak to. Let’s talk.