If you own or manage a business, you have likely heard the term “information security compliance” before. Each organization has specific information security compliance duties that cannot be neglected. Let’s take a look at approaches to compliance, the importance of compliance and what happens when businesses ignore this obligation by performing what the IT industry has dubbed as “willful noncompliance”.
An organization that determines that abiding by regulatory compliance rules is not necessary will face negative repercussions. Though it might sound like a rare event, willful noncompliance is actually much more common than most assume. A surprising number of companies are willing to risk potential fines and hits to their reputation by bypassing these rules. These groups either view information security compliance as a massive hassle in terms of labor and logistics or they view it as too expensive. Sure, compliance is somewhat of a burden yet the failure to comply with existing laws and regulations has the potential to drastically reduce a business’s security and financial well-being due to hefty fines.
There is No Standard Approach to Security and Compliance Obligations
Those who are familiar with information security compliance efforts are quick to state that most organizations take their own idiosyncratic approach to this responsibility. Some play it completely by the book, documenting the organization’s compliance according to each provision of every nuanced regulation. Other companies have more of an informal approach to information security compliance by striving to stay within the boundaries of regulations. Such a loose approach is generally meant to comply with the spirit of regulations rather than the letter of the law. Other organizations use a unique combination of both of the approaches described above. Those who are experts in information security will testify that the majority of organizations perform a blend of these approaches in a concerted effort to keep their IT operations fully compliant with the law.
Is Failure to Comply Really Worth It?
The failure to adhere to information security standards is quite risky. It can result in a range of costly penalties from civil fines to prosecution in criminal court. The bottom line is that merchants that refuse to comply with the rules of PCI DSS will endure considerable financial penalties. In the worst case scenario, these non-compliant organizations will put their ability to engage in transactions involving credit cards at serious risk. Any individual or organization that is proven to have willfully breached HIPAA rules could face extensive jail time due to their inability to provide “due care.” The legal system labels such a failure to provide due care as “negligence.” In a nutshell, it is not prudent to neglect information security compliance. Just about every organization should view compliance as a requirement rather than a choice. In the end, the investment of money, time and effort in information security compliance is well worth it.
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