Keeping up with ever-changing regulatory requirements for cybersecurity can prove difficult for many organizations, which may unknowingly become non-compliant if they fail to adapt to new laws and regulations.
Healthcare organizations and financial services must be even more vigilant with compliance. Both sectors are subject to even stricter requirements due to the large quantities of personally identifiable information (PII) they manage.
The most effective way to ensure your organization stays updated with future regulations is to assess regulatory risk.
This article explains how regulatory risk presents itself in cybersecurity and how organizations can manage it most effectively.
What is Regulatory Risk?
Regulatory risk is the risk that new laws and regulations will negatively affect an organization. In cybersecurity, regulatory risk is volatile. The cyber threat landscape evolves daily, meaning cyber regulations are constantly changing.
Emerging cybersecurity threats and other external factors increase risk exposure, forcing governments and regulatory bodies to tighten existing compliance requirements. Public concerns for data security are at the forefront of regulatory risk in cybersecurity.
Understanding Regulatory Risk
Regulatory risk often arises in response to ongoing issues or macro influences within an industry. Organizations can usually determine their risk level by identifying these factors and aligning their internal compliance strategies accordingly. Risk and compliance teams can manage regulatory risk most effectively by adopting a proactive approach to compliance.
In cybersecurity, regulatory risk has been a critical concern ever since digital transformation began across all industries. With serious data breaches constantly making headlines, consumers are understandably concerned about the privacy and safety of their sensitive information.
Below are examples of recent regulatory risks in cybersecurity.
- Increasing ransomware attacks
- Outsourcing of key information technology processes to third-party service providers
- Threat actors executing more sophisticated cyber attacks
What’s the Difference Between Regulatory Risk and Compliance Risk?
Regulatory risk concerns the potential impact of new laws and regulations, whereas compliance risk concerns existing laws and regulations.
Regulatory risk is the risk that new laws or regulations will come into effect, having a significant impact on an organization.
Regulatory risk poses an issue when a new threat or concern emerges, such as public opinion on cybersecurity practices.
Compliance risk is the risk that an organization will become non-compliant with laws or regulations that are already in place.
Compliance risk is a major issue when a data breach or other serious security incident occurs. Many cybersecurity laws mandate that organizations safeguard sensitive data and provide adequate data protection strategies.
Organizations should manage compliance and regulatory risks as part of an effective cybersecurity risk management strategy.
How to Manage Regulatory Risk in Cybersecurity
Below are six ways your organization can manage its regulatory risk.
1. Compliance Management
Compliance management is an internal process that ensures your organization’s workflow, information security policy, and IT initiatives align with all compliance requirements. Compliance teams must continuously monitor the attack surface for security risks that breach legal conditions and prioritize remediation.
A successful compliance management process involves maintaining regular communication between key stakeholders to ensure they’re informed of your organization’s security posture.
Compliance with existing regulations provides a more robust foundation when new requirements are enacted. Instead of playing catch up with missing security measures, security teams can focus their attention on reducing the attack surface.
2. Assess the Cyber Threat Landscape
Awareness of the current cyber threat landscape is essential to managing regulatory risk. Pinpointing the main issues affecting your cyber defense allows you to assess your current compliance status and determine your risk tolerance. From here, you can prioritize implementing additional security measures to protect critical infrastructure against high-risk threats.
3. Perform a Risk Assessment
Performing a risk assessment allows you to evaluate your current risk exposure and identify current gaps in your cybersecurity program. The evaluation should include a gap analysis to map security controls against specific frameworks, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF), HIPAA, and PCI DSS, to identify any areas of non-compliance.
Implementing the necessary controls will reduce not only your compliance risk but also your regulatory risk. With assurance your organization is compliant with existing requirements, you can instead focus your efforts on achieving compliance with any new laws or regulations.
A complete risk assessment shouldn’t rely solely on risk analysis. Determining regulatory risk requires consistent threat intelligence, detailed research of the threat landscape, and knowledge of your risk profile over time.
4. Create an Incident Response Plan
Your organization should have a solid incident response plan covering a variety of cybersecurity incidents – of all sizes. Your plan should include mitigating strategies to protect critical assets and ensure business continuity following an incident.
You must identify risks that could affect business operations, such as:
- Malware injections
- Social engineering attacks, including phishing
- Ransomware attacks
- Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
- Unauthorized access to information systems
- Third-party data breaches
Even a minor incident can become a large-scale cyber attack or devastating data breach. You should constantly update your response plan with an action plan against potential emerging threats to accommodate regulatory risk.
5. Visualize the Attack Surface
IT security teams need granular visibility to identify threats and vulnerabilities within your organization’s attack surface. Continuous monitoring is the key to reducing the attack surface and improving network and data security.
6. Use Cybersecurity Metrics
Metrics provide quantitative information that Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) can share with senior management to demonstrate how security teams are alleviating cyber risk and, in turn, regulatory risk.
Below are the 14 vital cybersecurity metrics to measure:
- Level of Preparation
- Unidentified Devices on Internal Networks
- Number of Intrusion Attempts
- Number of Security Incidents
- Mean Time to Detect (MTTD)
- Mean Time to Resolve (MTTR)
- Mean Time to Contain (MTTC)
- Security Ratings
- Average Vendor Security Rating
- Patching Cadence
- Access Management
- Company vs. Peer Performance
- Vendor Patching Cadence
- Mean Time For Vendors Incident Response