Definition of Compliance

Businesses are required to comply with all relevant government laws, rules, and regulations, including those rules and regulations about data privacy. There is no choice here; either the organization complies, or it risks losing permission to operate.

The requirements themselves can range from laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and all its attendant regulations; to industry mandates such as PCI DSS regulations, which guide how a company processes credit cards. To run your company efficiently, you’ll need to understand what kinds of data you’re processing as well as what regulations are required of your industry.

Types of Data Subject to Cybersecurity Compliance

A data breach can be potentially devastating to your company, and the types of information you store and process will determine how valuable that data is to potential hackers.

Broadly speaking, cybersecurity compliance is concerned with three categories of data:

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

This is any information that could be used to identify an individual. Examples of PII include names, addresses, and government identification numbers like Social Security or driver’s license. It can also include photos, genetic information, or other data.

Personal Health Information (PHI)

PHI is medical information that is identifiable with a specific individual. PHI and PII do overlap, although PHI focuses on insurance information, healthcare records, and other information that could be stolen from a medical provider.

Financial Information

Similarly, financial information encompasses PII but is specific to financial data. This includes bank account and credit card numbers, or any other information related to money or the transfer of funds.

How to Create a Cybersecurity Compliance Program

Your cybersecurity compliance program will be unique to your company and depend largely on the type of data you process and the regulatory requirements that pertain to your industry. Some of the major compliance standards that might apply to your cybersecurity program include:


The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a variety of compliance standards and guidelines that regulate information security for government agencies. Various laws require organizations to meet NIST standards to satisfy cybersecurity expectations. Compliance with NIST standards will often serve as a solid foundation for other compliance measures.


These requirements, designed to protect patient privacy in the healthcare industry, predate many modern cybersecurity threats and have grown and changed since first enacted in 1996. The increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the medical field has made cybersecurity compliance with HIPAA regulations more important than ever.


The General Data Protection Regulation governs the treatment of personal data for citizens of the European Union. Even if your company is not located in the EU, you might be subject to these regulations, depending on the citizenship of your customer base.


Developed and overseen by the major credit card companies, this framework regulates the processing and storage of credit card data. Non-compliance with PCI DSS is not illegal, but it can result in the loss of your credit card processing privileges.


The International Organization for Standardization has developed a number of standards, broken down by industry, designed to encourage consistency from country to country.

Once you’ve determined the standards with which you need to comply, the fundamental steps toward creating your program are as follows:


Your first step should be to identify the compliance requirements you must meet and how they apply to your existing cybersecurity infrastructure.


Your risk assessment process should examine the areas where changes must be made to comply with any relevant standards. Be sure to include all potential vulnerabilities in your assessment, including any third-party vendors or contractors.


Next, develop the appropriate controls to prevent and mitigate cyber threats. Documenting your security controls and remediation efforts is a requirement for most compliance standards.

Monitor and Educate

Regulatory compliance is an ongoing process, and continuous monitoring will be required. Compliance regulations change over time and it’s important to make sure your controls and security measures remain sufficient. You should also enact policies that will educate your staff on cybersecurity risk so that everyone is on the same page in the event of a cyberattack.

Strengthen Your Cybersecurity With Reciprocity ZenRisk

Cybersecurity compliance can be complex, and it can be increasingly difficult to meet requirements as your company grows. To assure your company’s compliance, you’ll need a robust risk management program that will help you track risk throughout your entire organization.

ZenRisk, powered by the Reciprocity ROAR platform, is your solution. ZenRisk software gives you a real-time view of your company’s entire risk management landscape, making it easier than ever to track, assign, and control risk. ZenRisk can also provide documentation that will make proving your compliance fast and easy. Schedule a demo today to learn how ZenRisk can help create a successful compliance program at your company.