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What CISOs Need To Know About Compliance With Global Cybersecurity Regulations?

  • 30 Jan 2024

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As data breaches and cyberattacks grow more widespread, governments throughout the world are enacting rigorous cybersecurity and data privacy legislation. Compliance is complicated for global organizations because different countries and areas have distinct laws and compliance frameworks that must be followed. Understanding cybersecurity legislation and developing compliance programs has become an essential component of doing business in today's digital environment.

According to a recent IBM report, the average cost of a data breach globally is $4.45 million, providing tangible evidence of the financial impacts of non-compliance.cover 2 (3)-1


In this article, we'll provide an overview of major global cybersecurity and data privacy regulations. We'll look at commonly used compliance frameworks and we'll discuss real-world examples of how organizations approach compliance through policies, training, and risk assessments. Being compliant requires an ongoing commitment at all levels of an organization. For IT professionals and cybersecurity teams, compliance provides a roadmap to build and maintain secure systems and protect customer data.

Overview of Major Global Regulations

There are a myriad of cybersecurity laws and regulatory requirements around the world. Some of the most prominent and impactful global regulations include:


Regulation Countries Covered Key Requirements
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) - 2016 European Union The GDPR establishes strict data protection and privacy standards for any organization handling the personal data of EU citizens. It requires transparency around how data is collected and used, gives users rights to access, rectify, and delete their personal information, and mandates notification of data breaches within 72 hours. Non-compliance can result in significant fines of up to 20 million Euros or 4% of global annual turnover.
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) - 2018 California, USA The CCPA provides data privacy rights and protections for consumers in California. It gives residents the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information by businesses collecting it. Any organization that collects California residents' data must disclose why it is collected and how it is shared upon request. Users can also request deletion of personal information.
NYDFS Cybersecurity Requirements - 2017 New York, USA The NYDFS Cybersecurity Requirements mandate that any company handling private consumer data implement robust data security policies and programs. It requires limiting data retention, assessing security risks from third party vendors, and reporting any cybersecurity incidents to the state. Proper security controls and practices must be in place to protect any nonpublic consumer information.
PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) - 2000 Canada The PIPEDA establishes national standards for how private sector organizations manage personal information in Canada. It requires consent to be obtained for collection, use and disclosure of personal data. Individuals have a right to access information collected about them. Organizations must implement appropriate security safeguards and privacy policies to protect personal information under their control or custody.


This table highlights a few major global cybersecurity regulations, but there are also many country- and region-specific laws. It's important for organizations to be aware of regulations in every jurisdiction where they operate. Compliance can be a struggle, affecting 39% of organizations.

Cybersecurity Frameworks

While regulations spell out legal requirements, cybersecurity frameworks provide comprehensive guidelines and best practices that can help organizations achieve compliance.cover 3 (3)


Framework Overview
NIST CSF The NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is widely considered the gold standard. It provides a model to assess and improve cybersecurity practices in five core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. Within each function, the framework defines categories, subcategories, and informative references that outline controls and processes for implementation. The NIST CSF helps organizations evaluate their current state of cybersecurity, set improvement targets, and develop action plans.
ISO 27001 ISO 27001 is an international standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that provides requirements for information security management systems. It takes a risk-based approach to protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data and systems. To achieve ISO 27001 certification, organizations must define ISMS policies, procedures, and controls backed by formal risk management methodologies. Key activities include asset inventory, human resources security, physical and environmental controls, communications and operations management, access control, system acquisition and development, and compliance audits.
CIS Controls The Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls offers specific actions that organizations can take to safeguard systems and data. Developed by a consensus of experts, the controls focus on cyber hygiene best practices across areas like access management, awareness training, data protection, asset management, and monitoring. The CIS Controls can serve as a baseline for compliance by mapping to various regulations and frameworks like NIST, ISO 27001, PCI DSS and others. CIS offers resources to implement the controls including assessment guides, audit tools, training courses and more.
PCI DSS The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements for merchants and service providers that handle payment card transactions. Maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council, PCI DSS covers the entire life cycle of card data including transmission, processing, and storage. Major elements include building firewalls, changing default configurations, implementing antivirus and malware solutions, encrypting data, restricting access, and regular testing. Adherence is validated annually through self-assessment questionnaires and mandatory external audits.

Leveraging established frameworks like NIST CSF, ISO 27001, CIS Controls, and PCI DSS equips organizations with tested best practices for security and compliance. Frameworks provide structure while allowing flexibility in implementation of controls tailored to business needs and risk profiles.

Real-World Examples of Compliance Programs

What does cybersecurity compliance look like in practice? Most organizations take a multi-pronged approach that involves policies, training, risk assessments, and ongoing audits. Here are some brief examples:cover 4 (3)


  • A healthcare provider uses a business virtual private network (VPN) for secure remote access to clinical and administrative systems. Only through the business VPN can staff connect from outside the organization's network. This helps satisfy network security regulations for protected health information.
  • A technology company requires all employees to complete annual cybersecurity awareness training on topics like phishing, password security, and safe web browsing. This satisfies training mandates in many compliance frameworks.
  • A financial services institution performs in-depth security risk assessments of all third-party vendors that access sensitive customer data. Vendor risk management is a key requirement of global regulations.
  • A software firm retains network logs, access records, and system event data for set periods required under data retention laws before purging the information. This demonstrates compliance around data storage and availability.

By building out comprehensive programs that include policies, training, assessments, and audits, organizations can demonstrate adherence to cybersecurity regulations and industry best practices.


Global cybersecurity regulations necessitate that organizations safeguard information, maintain transparency in data practices, uphold user privacy choices, and construct solid security programs. By implementing policies and controls that align with major legal frameworks and industry best practices, companies can fulfill these requirements and cultivate a more mature security posture.

In 2023, with the evolution of threats and new legislations, compliance has become an ongoing endeavor demanding continuous assessment, education, and enhancement. However, the investments poured into achieving compliance yield significant returns in bolstering defenses and diminishing risks.

A striking example is that 91% of companies plan to adopt continuous compliance over the next five years, indicating a proactive approach towards regulatory adherence and security enhancement​​. Additionally, 66% of companies anticipate that compliance mandates will drive their spending in the forthcoming year, underscoring the financial commitment organizations are making towards ensuring cybersecurity compliance​.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Regular HIPAA compliance audits are crucial for remote staffing companies. Conducting audits annually, or more frequently if there are significant changes in operations or regulations, ensures ongoing adherence to HIPAA standards and minimizes the risk of breaches.

How often should compliance programs be audited?

Most experts recommend an annual compliance audit by an independent third-party auditor. Audits should ensure all controls are adequately designed and operating effectively. Any gaps identified should be remediated.

Who is responsible for compliance within an organization?

While accountability lies with executive leadership, the entire company plays a role. Cross-functional teams composed of IT, security, legal, HR, finance and other groups help build and implement compliance programs.

How can compliance drive better security?

The controls and processes put in place for regulations improve cyber defense and resilience. Compliance provides a framework to assess risk, implement protections, detect threats, respond to incidents and recover after an attack.

What compliance training is required for employees?

Cybersecurity awareness training on handling data, threats like phishing and social engineering, password policies and other topics is necessary to comply with legal mandates for ongoing education.

What encryption methods are recommended for PHI protection?

To protect PHI, use two primary encryption methods: AES-256 Encryption for data at rest and TLS/SSL Encryption for data in transit.

How can healthcare organizations improve audit readiness?

Enhance audit readiness through regular security assessments, maintaining comprehensive documentation, employee training, and proactive system monitoring.

How can healthcare organizations comply with GDPR?

Comply with GDPR by appointing a Data Protection Officer, conducting Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), establishing efficient procedures for handling Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs), and ensuring timely data breach notifications.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with PHI regulations?

Non-compliance can result in substantial fines, damage to an organization's reputation, legal actions, penalties, and an increased risk of data breaches.

How can healthcare organizations secure remote access for employees?

Secure remote access with a business VPN, enforce strong authentication like two-factor authentication (2FA), update access policies, educate employees on security, and maintain remote access logs for auditing.