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Improving Compliance in Your Startup

As a startup, it can be a bit overwhelming to meet a multitude of compliance standards. As a company matures its cybersecurity compliance program, it can be stressful to the audit department to implement the regulations manually.

Some startups adopt automated solutions to ease the stress of compliance management. The right automated system can make monitoring continued compliance much easier. Many companies collect confidential information like credit card data and user information on a regular basis, making new and vulnerable startups a prime target for cybercriminals. So, how can a small and growing company stay compliant?

One of the best things you can do is to review the compliance program that you already have in place. Technology is constantly evolving, so you should study and re-evaluate the current compliance methods you use regularly. Also, there are new trends that curb cybersecurity breaches which need to be cross-checked both before and after adaptation. Financial information is a delicate matter, and all precautions have to be adopted to prevent a violation. Here are seven steps that can assist you in improving cybersecurity at your startup:

Step 1: Conduct an Annual Risk Analysis

The most convenient place to start improving a compliance program is by conducting an annual risk analysis. The study identifies the threats the company faces, the type of control measures it uses, and an assessment of the effectiveness of the control measures. Conducting the review will also reveal the systems, devices, and networks that are responsible for storing, transmitting and collecting financial data.

The report of the complete analysis will be useful in identifying the vulnerabilities associated with software, systems, and networks at the startup. The most attractive financial information is non-public information. You need to be thorough in doing a risk analysis on all the hardware and software that comes into contact with the data.

Finally, being an active participant in the annual risk analysis grants you the chance to identify outdated controls, network devices, and software. If you participate, you are in a better position in knowing what to update to improve the company’s level of compliance.

Step 2: Update Policies to Adapt to the New Environment

Systems that don’t efficiently protect private data can be thrown out. Choosing policies that are suitable for the company’s current technology will improve compliance. 

Changing policies involves changing the processes and procedures at your startup. The changes should be in alignment with cybersecurity regulations. You can check out the regulatory standards to get an idea of how to improve various policies. It is advisable to carry out research on the best practices and implement the procedures that gear towards higher compliance standards.

Step 3: Monitor Technology Regularly

Continuous monitoring of your networks, systems, devices, and software is vital in guaranteeing steady compliance. Regular monitoring brings any emerging threats to your attention as soon as they occur. Identification of new risks as they occur calls for a change in policy without waiting for the annual review. It is essential to stay at par with new threats, since cybercriminals are continually trying out new ways to steal the valuable data startups accrue. Monitoring gives accounts of how to identify and neutralize or mitigate the risk.

Step 4: Review Mitigation Controls

All control measures for cybersecurity should undergo a review periodically. The cybersecurity industry is continually evolving as new tech enters the market. As stated previously, cybercriminals are constantly trying out new methods to breach small businesses’ security defenses. Reviewing mitigation controls confirms which controls are valid and which controls need replacement. Old mitigation procedures and processes may not hold up to newly advanced attacks. A review is also vital in aligning new policies to the company’s internal controls and compliance program.

Step 5: Monitor Threats Continuously

Continuous monitoring always uncovers new threats from time to time. You have to establish processes and procedures to respond to those threats. The compliance program has to be set up in a manner so that there are response and remediation processes for new threats. Response and remediation procedures will prevent a further risk from causing an unnecessary or avoidable negative impact.

Step 6: Document All Compliance Program Adjustments

Each adjustment made to the internal controls, procedures, processes, and policies needs religious documentation. The documents are useful during cybersecurity audits and compliance check-ups. The documents explain step-by-step processes of how the company made decisions regarding the compliance program. Documenting the compliance program adjustments acts as proof of effective program governance.

Step 7: Monitor and Update Your Risk Profile

Any new activity in the compliance program can affect the company negatively. A risk profile includes the different aspects of a compliance program that has an impact on the company. Updating the company risk profile is essential in maintaining a correct view of the threats that the startup is facing. Sometimes new policies, hardware, or software eliminates the risks. At other times, they bring new risks. Updating your risk profile involves removing hazards that are rejected and adding new threats that are emerging. An accurate risk profile will go a long way in assisting you in improving the overall compliance of the organization.

Finding new ways to improve your company’s compliance levels is a great way to increase cybersecurity. Startups have a lot to lose in case of a breach in their cybersecurity. Prevention is always better than cure, and higher levels of compliance with regulatory standards like PCI DSS play a significant role in keeping your company and clients secure. Regulatory compliance is not only about creating policies, but also keeping tabs to ensure the appropriate policy implementation.

Cybercrime is ever increasing. It is vital to stay vigilant of new threats and an increase of impact in present danger. The first step is ensuring the methods of identifying risks are highly sensitive. The sooner the identification of potential hazards, the more efficiently you will keep your customers’ data secure. Maturing a compliance program takes cybersecurity to a level that adopts world-class strategies to stay ahead of cybercrime.



Guest Contributor

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.



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