In our constantly evolving digital age, it's becoming more and more essential for individuals and businesses to have a solid approach to cybersecurity. As such, having security standards in place is becoming increasingly important to ensure that organizations are equipped to protect themselves from cyber attacks and threats.
So what is a security standard? In essence, it is a set of guidelines or rules put in place to safeguard against information security risks. These standards can cover a vast range of topics, including network security, data protection, and employee awareness training. They are created based on best practices and industry standards, and are designed to help organizations manage security risks.
Here are a few of the most important security standards that businesses must consider:
The most widely recognized international security standard, ISO 27001 sets out a comprehensive framework for information security management. It covers everything from risk assessment to incident management, and its goal is to help organizations manage their information security systematically and continuously. Many organizations choose to obtain certification against this standard as a way of demonstrating their commitment to information security.
For those in the healthcare industry, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is critical. This standard outlines the steps that healthcare providers must take to ensure the privacy and security of patient health information (PHI). The regulation outlines security standards that must be in place to protect electronic PHI (ePHI), and failure to comply can result in significant fines and legal action.
If you're in the e-commerce industry, you need to be aware of PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). This set of security standards applies to any business that accepts credit card payments. It requires businesses to implement a range of security measures to protect cardholder data, such as firewalls and encryption, and also includes requirements for regular security testing and vulnerability assessments.
NIST SP 800-53
One of the most widely used security standards in the US federal government, NIST SP 800-53 sets out a comprehensive set of controls and guidelines for federal information systems. It covers everything from access control to incident response, and is regularly updated to reflect the latest threats and best practices.
So why are these security standards so important? Essentially, they're there to help organizations mitigate the risks of cyber attacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and having a solid security framework in place can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and protect themselves and their customers from harm.
Here are a few examples of how effective security standards can make a real difference in practice:
- In 2018, the Marriott hotel chain suffered one of the largest data breaches in history, with hackers gaining access to the personal information of 383 million guests. An investigation revealed that the breach was the result of a lack of security standards and basic cyber hygiene measures. Had Marriott had effective security standards in place, the breach may have been prevented or detected sooner.
- In another example, the Equifax data breach in 2017 exposed the personal information of 143 million Americans. The breach was the result of a failure to patch a known security vulnerability in Equifax's systems. An effective security standard would have required regular vulnerability assessments and patching, which may have prevented the breach.
- Finally, in 2020, Twitter suffered a large-scale hack in which a number of high-profile accounts were compromised. The cause of the breach was found to be a lack of basic security practices such as two-factor authentication and employee training. Effective security standards could have helped prevent the breach by mandating the use of these practices.
It's clear that having effective security standards in place is critical for protecting against cyber attacks and data breaches. Whether your organization is large or small, it's essential to take cybersecurity seriously and take steps to safeguard your systems and data. By implementing robust security standards, you can demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity and help protect your business from harm.