For a hosting company to be compliant, it needs the right people who understand the various regulations and the IT equipment required to keep the organization within standards. The right cybersecurity applications can help mitigate, stop and remediate attacks while keeping you compliant with various regulations. Additionally, putting the proper procedures in place will improve compliance and boost customer trust and acquisitions.
What are current issues with compliance?
Most companies know that compliance oversees the protection of critical information such as user credit card numbers and personally identifiable information (PII). What they don’t know is how to build infrastructure that supports compliance and follows regulations. A data breach stemming from being out of compliance can cost an organization $5000 to $10,000 a month in penalties depending on the size of the business and the severity of the breach.
Cybersecurity, in general, is a complicated subject for system administrators and users alike to understand. Hackers play by a different ruleset, and threat actors constantly scan systems for vulnerabilities. If administrators are not aware of the way hackers work — and they may not be familiar with sophisticated exploits — they could leave their servers and infrastructure open to even the common exploits. Most administrators need help with cybersecurity either from experts that audit systems or applications that detect an ongoing attack.
Audits are a part of compliance, but without someone who knows compliance, organizations are left unaware of the digital trail needed to pass a review. A web host compliance audit can be stressful for administrators and the organization when it’s critical that they pass it to continue keeping customers. Auditors will review several aspects of infrastructure security, including firewalls, workstations, servers, group policies, intrusion detection and prevention systems, logging configurations, patch management, and security controls. All these aspects of the network and much more must follow compliance standards, or the organization risks costly penalties and loss of certifications in some cases.
Cybersecurity experts on staff are expensive, so many hosts outsource a professional audit to consultants. Consultants are only available for a short time, but host administrators can turn to tools that will help ensure compliance. The more tools and solutions administrators have, the more likely they will maintain compliance even without a full and detailed knowledge of standards and regulations.
Why is security compliance important?
For web hosts, revenue and customer acquisition depend on compliance. Most businesses have at least one regulation that they must follow. For example, any organization that stores and transfers credit card numbers must be PCI-DSS compliant. PCI-DSS compliance requires various cybersecurity protections so that user financial information is safe from a data breach. If the web host does not offer PCI-DSS compliant systems, then they cannot support any business that stores financial data, which eliminates a good portion of online businesses.
Offering compliant systems keeps the web host market competitive, so the leading companies can obtain more customers and increase revenue. Healthcare, financial services, and even ecommerce will search for hosts that offer systems that keep their business compliant. The more customers a web host can support, the more revenue can be made.
Staying compliant also reduces risks for the web host and the businesses hosted on your servers. Because of the reduced risk, you have a better chance of attracting partnerships with other businesses that can be leveraged to increase visibility and revenue. Overall, staying compliant is much more beneficial for revenue than falling out of compliance standards.
Taking the right steps towards compliance
Whether it’s a requirement or your web host wants to ensure that they stay compliant, here are a few steps that can be taken to keep the business running in the right direction. For web hosts, it’s critical that infrastructure is built with cybersecurity and compliance in mind. A compromised server could mean hundreds of sites hosted on the server are also affected, which may be costly to revenue and brand reputation.
The first step is to have the right professionals review infrastructure and audit cybersecurity controls. In many cases, this requires outside consultants to review every aspect of the network and identify risks and vulnerabilities that could put the organization out of compliance. The consultants that review infrastructure should be familiar with hosting audits and should use a set framework such as the Center for Internet Security (CIS), which will help ensure that the web host will pass an official audit.
Before you determine if you’re compliant, you need to know which compliance standards must be followed. Some requirements overlap. For example, storing sensitive data in encrypted form is common with many requirements, so you will find that certain standards are global across several compliance regulations. For many hosting companies, PCI-DSS is the main focus to ensure that customers can use merchant services to charge credit cards for goods and services.
To illustrate what an audit will entail, a PCI-DSS compliance auditor will look for several controls that will enhance cybersecurity and data protection. A few areas that an auditor will review are:
- Authentication and authorization tools, and if the web host follows best practices.
- Misconfigurations that could leave data vulnerable to a breach. Misconfigurations are a common root cause for data breaches, especially when the host uses cloud infrastructure. The auditor will check for common misconfigurations that could lead to a compromise.
- Effective logging so that all anomalies are caught, and investigators can use them to identify the source of a compromise. Logging is essential for most compliance requirements, but it must be done properly to stay compliant.
- Encryption policies, the way information is stored and transmitted.
- A review of what can be improved going forward. Some risks may be mitigated, and a consultant can give IT staff further information on how to better optimize current systems for improved defense.
After an audit, the web host will likely have a list of changes that must be performed on the network, including servers. To prepare for an audit and improve your cybersecurity, you can follow some general guidelines, including:
- Review your workstations and servers to ensure that they have hardened cybersecurity (e.g., server antivirus software, authorization controls, and firewalls).
- Review configurations to ensure that they aren’t unknowingly leaving vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
- Ensure that security configurations and controls are consistent across the entire network.
- Create a checklist of compliance requirements and review infrastructure for any possible violations.
- Continue to collect data on your progress and always document the positive cybersecurity changes as proof of compliance in future audits.
Using security tools to stay compliant
Security applications can help keep a web host compliant by monitoring server activity. Imunify360 is a complete monitoring tool that detects attacks, malware uploads, and malicious code across all sites hosted on the server. Monitoring is often a part of compliance and Imunify360 monitors servers for common vulnerabilities. It will automatically clean malicious content in many cases.
With tools such as Imunify360, a web host can monitor servers and stop malware that could lead to a data breach. It doesn’t keep a host 100% compliant, but it can help with many of the problems administrators face as they try to keep infrastructure within regulatory requirements.
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