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Top 6 Cybersecurity Compliance Frameworks & Regulations

Published on Dec 08 2021

Compliance frameworks

Compliance frameworks are sets of guidelines and best practices that companies integrate into their business processes to strengthen security and meet regulatory requirements. Specifically, compliance frameworks exist to make sure that the requirements of laws, regulations, industry codes are met.  

Even though they help businesses achieve specific business goals, such as penetrating new markets, compliance frameworks pose a huge challenge. 

In this article, we will be covering the leading frameworks that small and medium-sized businesses might come across: 


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a division of the US Chamber of Commerce, which deals with cybersecurity issues. It is widely considered to be the gold standard for building a cybersecurity program and acts as a top-level security management tool that helps assess cybersecurity risks across the organization. 

→ What is NIST Framework? Ultimate Guide for 2022

How can this framework impact your organization? 

Nowadays, many organizations leverage NIST guidelines to manage and mitigate risks that could impact their business processes and their customers. Not following the NIST guidelines becomes more of a liability. The implementation process may seem cumbersome, but it ensures secure processes, builds trust among customers, and develops a security mindset.  


ISO 27001 

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 standard includes all policies and processes relevant to how data is controlled and used. Risk management is the essential part of ISO 27001, ensuring that a company or an organization understands where its strong and weak points are located. 

For certain industries that handle sensitive data, such as medical and financial fields, ISO 27001 certification is mandatory. 

What Is ISO 27001? Ultimate Guide For 2022 

How can this framework impact your organization? 

Organizations that fail to comply with the certification could be at risk of failing a future audit and losing their compliance designation. Depending on the level of non-compliance, re-assessment can sometimes cost as much as 60% of the original assessment. 

It could also prevent businesses from expanding or operating in certain geographical areas. 



The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a security standard that regulates the safe and secure transfer of credit card data. It is a mandatory standard for any organization that processes, stores, or transmits credit card information. 

The standard has 12 compliance requirements: 

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data 
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters 
  3. Protect stored data of cardholders 
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks 
  5. Regularly update anti-virus software or programs 
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications 
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know 
  8. Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access 
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data 
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data 
  11. Frequently test security systems and processes 
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel 


How can this framework impact your organization? 

Companies that fail to comply with the standards give cybercriminals an open door for data breaches. Possible results of PCI Non-Compliance are: 

  • compromised customer data,  
  • regulatory fines and penalties, 
  • Loss of sales, 
  • loss of reputation,
  • Lawsuits, insurance claims. 

Additionally, merchants will be subject to fees and fines both by payment card issuers and the government. 



The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act provide policies, procedures, and processes that are required for companies that store or process protected health information (PHI).  

How can this framework impact your organization? 

The cost of noncompliance to HIPAA depends on the level of negligence and ranges from $100 to $50,000 per individual violation.  



General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a recent data privacy and security law that sets conditions, guidelines, and penalties for organizations and individuals that collect, store, and process the personal information of European Union (EU) citizens and residents. It is one of the most high-powered frameworks ever created for protecting the data privacy of individuals. 

How can this framework impact your organization? 

Companies violating GDPR security and privacy standards will face severe fines and penalties reaching tens of millions of euros. 



The Center for Internet Security Critical Security Controls (CIS CSC) is a prioritized set of 20 best practices designed to help organizations safeguard their systems and data from the most pervasive and dangerous threats and attacks. CIS Controls are not a replacement for any existing compliance frameworks; however, it maps to several major compliance frameworks (e.g., the NIST) and regulations (e.g., PCI DSS and HIPAA). 

The top 20 critical security controls are refined and validated every year. They were developed by leading experts from around the world: commercial forensics experts, individual penetration testers, and contributors from U.S. government agencies.  

How can this framework impact your organization? 

It is not mandatory for organizations to comply with 20 controls at once. They should consult the official document by the CIS on which sub controls should be implemented depending on the tier of organization their business may fall under. 


Due to the complexity of laws and regulations, it is usually difficult for companies to ensure compliance, especially for small and medium-sized ones. It is more challenging for C-suite executives who confess that their crucial issues revolve around security threats and data privacy, and a shortage of top talent with required skillsets. Thus, non-compliance poses a huge risk of financial damage and loss of sales. 

Humanize offers small and medium businesses a compliance monitoring system to make sure they meet various standards and regulations on an ongoing basis. Additionally, C-level executives are informed about the possible financial risks and impact of noncompliance. 

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