Cyber Security Compliance for Startups


Start-ups are integral to  economic success of any country, generating  millions new jobs in recent years and experiencing significant market growth as business owners tap new technologies to increase brand reach and impact. With the recently developed industry standards and regulatory requirements influencing all industries, cyber security compliance becomes a mandate for business success.

In this digital era, as the severity and number of cyber-attacks increases, industry standards organizations and governments seek to enforce cyber security by establishing mandatory compliance requirements. However, compliance requirements often lag behind cyber security risk. Therefore, to prepare for dynamic compliance requirements, businesses need to have a risk based approach which includes addressing and mitigating risk of cyber security so that they can stay ahead of the evolving requirements.


Think Big while Starting Small

Most of the time start-ups view their IT as inherently safe —there is a common thought, after all, why would hackers bother with smaller businesses when large-scale operations handle huge volumes of valuable data? Cyber security for start-ups may also take a back seat because almost all of mission-critical tasks that require owners’ attention.

Here’s the hard truth: Start-ups are often in the line of fire for digital compromise precisely because they don’t have built-in cyber security controls or well-articulated InfoSec policies.

Since there’s a lower chance of attacks being detected, identified and mitigated, attacker/hackers looking to test new threat vectors or grab consumer data may target start-ups

 Clearly, start-ups should not ignore risk pertaining to Cyber security. Few of the key activities includes

Compliance : From privacy regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR to start-up PCI compliance, our experts ensure your data handling and storage processes meet evolving expectations.

Internal Audits : Periodic internal audits are helpful in identifying critical gaps between the actual status and desired compliance status.

Risk Assessments :Regulatory bodies wanted to ensure that controls and measures taken by organisation are sufficient and reasonable to your organization, customers, and partners. There are many frameworks available in the market, organisation need to choose the right one as per their requirements and then identify acceptable risk. If possible more than one framework can be used to identify and compare the risks. Organisation shall identify and implement a balanced security strategy factoring in compliance and safeguards based on their specific business and objectives.

Security management Proper security management services help streamline IT environment and protect business purpose. It provides a holistic view to the management about cyber security compliance.

Incident Response and remediation : When a breach does occur, organisations need to address the attack immediately, contain it, and remediate the threat. A properly trained, expert incident response team to stop, fix, and an ongoing incident response process and plan to keep data secure.

Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration testing : Not all vulnerabilities are obvious. Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing helps find and secure potential failure points.

Third Party Risk Management (TPRM)/Vendor Risk Management : Vendors or service providers are the integral part of most of the start-up businesses. Organisations need to ensure third-party partners are aligned with your organization’s risk controls. Organisations shall ensure that all the vendors are adhering all the desired requirements pertaining to cyber security compliance.

What are the data breach risks?

Data breaches has become very frequent irrespective of the organisations size.

The recent trends indicate that cyber criminals target small businesses which does not have adequate security to gain unauthorized access to data that they can sell on the dark web. Hacking and social engineering attacks focus on exploiting vulnerabilities in servers, systems, networks, software, and people to gain entry.

Many small businesses currently lack the necessary resources required to defend against these attacks, which increases the probability that hackers will continue to target them.

Below are the recent data breach trends

  • One fourth of data breaches involved small businesses.
  • Many of breaches include social engineering by exploiting lack of awareness of cyber security among employees.
  • Maximum of breaches were financially motivated
  • Most of the breaches were perpetrated by outsiders and script kiddies.
  • Almost more than one fourth of breaches still take months or more to discover

What is cybersecurity compliance and why it is necessary?

Compliance, in general is the act of being aligned with guidelines, rules, regulations and legislation. In cybersecurity, compliance is a program that establishes risk-based controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and ensure availability of information stored, processed, or transferred.

Cyber security compliance is not a stand-alone compliance many a times, it is based on multiple standards or regulations to be adhered by any industry. Sometimes different standards can create uncertainty and surplus work for organizations using a checklist-based approach

For example, an e-commerce organisation needs to meet PCI DSS(Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) if accepts payments through POS(Point-of Service) device, they also require to adhere HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) for their employees health information.If this organisation serves European customers then must be complaint with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

What Data is subject to cybersecurity compliance? 

Cybersecurity and data protection laws and regulations primarily focus on the protection of sensitive data, such as

Financial Informatione.g. credit card numbers, card pin numbers, bank account number etc.

PersonallyIdentifiable Information (PII)e.g.First and last name,address,date of birthetc.

Protected Health Information (PHI)e.g. Medical history, records of admissions, prescription records etc.

Other sensitive datathat may be subject to state, regional, or industry regulations includes:

  • IP addresses
  • Email addresses, usernames, and passwords
  • Personal email contents
  • Personal messages
  • Authenticators, including biometrics such as fingerprints, voiceprints, and facial recognition data
  • Marital status
  • Race
  • Religion

Step by Step Cybersecurity Compliance Program

€Creation of a Compliance Team

For every business irrespective of size, a compliance team is compulsory. Since organizations mainly start-ups are continue to move their business-critical operations to the cloud, there is a need for an interdepartmental workflow and communication across business and IT departments.

Define the Scope

Identify and define the clear scope which includes business processes, information systems, legal requirements, contractual requirements, etc.

€Identify and Establish a Risk Management Process


Identify all information assets and information processing systems, networks, servers, and data that they access.


Review the risk level of each data type. Identify where high-risk information is stored, transmitted, and collected and rate the risk of those locations accordingly.


After assessing risk, you need to analyze risk. Traditionally, organizations use the following formula:

Risk = (Likelihood x Impact)


After analyzing the risk, you need to determine whether to transfer, treat, accept, or reduce the risk.

Implement Controls

Once the risk is identified treat the risk based on your risk tolerance, you need to determine how to mitigate or transfer risk. Controls can include:

  • VPNs
  • Access Management
  • Firewalls
  • Employee training
  • Encryption
  • Password policies
  • Network security
  • Third Party/Vendor risk management program

Create Policies

Document Policies and procedures for your compliance activities and controls. These policies acts as the foundation for any internal or external audits.

Continuously Monitor, Respond, and Improve

Continuous monitoring helps in identify new gaps in the cybersecurity compliance program and hence the weaknesses of the information systems and processes can be reduced to strengthen the security. Organizations need to regularly update all the systems in order to avoid any kind of data breach.

Since cyber security is an innovative method, where cyber criminals always try to find out new vulnerabilities in the systems and exploit it.These new vulnerabilities lead to Zero Day attack. Organisations need to monitor their networks and processes in order to identify any suspicious behavior and content it immediately. Internal audits and penetration testing are most effective ways of internal audits.

What are the Benefits of cybersecurity compliance?

There are lots of benefits:

€Enables you to protect your company’s reputation,

It maintain consumer trust, and build customer loyalty by ensuring  customer’s sensitive information is safe and secure

It reduces the risk of a data breach, hence the associated response and recovery costs.

It saves organisations from the less-quantifiable costs of a breach such as reputation damage, business interruption, and loss of business.

Enhance the trust of customers and regulatory bodies in the organisation

€Implementing the appropriate safeguards and security measures to protect sensitive customer and employee information strengthen company’s security posture.

€ It helps to protect intellectual property such as trade secrets, software code, product specifications, and other information that gives your company a competitive advantage.


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