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As a small- to medium-sized organization, it might be hard to see the benefits of implementing security standards like NIST 800-171, CMMC. or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability). It could seem cumbersome or overkill to align your operations with these standards if you’re not currently subject to them. Adopting these standards, however, could be a great business strategy for a handful of reasons. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of voluntarily complying with a cybersecurity standard.

Voluntary Compliance?

Adopting a regulatory framework makes sense for more companies than one might think. Of course, if you do a certain kind of business, you’ll likely know if you’re subject to specific regulations and will have already built your processes in a way that recognizes the need to comply. Manufacturers often know that they are subject to CMMC or NIST 800-171, because their contracts stipulate the need for them to be compliant. That is, many companies find out they need to be compliant when they do business with someone who requires it, and not because of a government representative reaching out to tell them they are subject to these regulations.

As a manufacturing company, it’ll become more obvious in the future that you need to adopt a specific regulatory framework. But what if you aren’t a manufacturer? What could you get from aligning yourself with a regulation like NIST 800-171 or

These regulations are full of best practices and guidance on cybersecurity processes. The main goals of these frameworks are introducing your organization to risk management, employee training, incident response, and access control best practices. By aligning your organization with the standards, you’re getting the best that the cybersecurity community has to offer in terms of protecting your data and the data of your customers. It also shows that you’re serious about cyber threats and combatting them in your organization.

Future Proof Your Opportunities

As mentioned above, a contract or deal could come along in the future that requires you to have already been following one of these frameworks. Regardless of whether that happens, being aligned with a framework like HIPAA or NIST speaks to your preparedness and diligence no matter who your partnerships and relationships are with. Being able to reach compliance will specifically open the ability to work with governmental organizations and their contractors and suppliers.

Your cybersecurity posture could also help with countless scenarios involving your customers and potential partners. It can be a competitive advantage to have better security postures, not just because of its potential for building relationships, but because of the cost of breaches that your competitors may face.

Streamline Cyber Insurance Processes and Lower Your Premiums

Adopting NIST or HIPAA guidelines can make it far more straightforward to get cyber insurance coverage. Insurers know that you are following the best practices when you adopt these standards, which can result in less arduous scrutiny and a lower premium because your business will appear lower-risk due to your cybersecurity posture.

If you have an event or breach, your cyber insurance policy will dictate how to move forward with an investigation or claim, and being compliant with a regulatory framework will streamline the claims process, likely contributing to faster recovery and return to regular business operations.

Creating a Cybersecurity-Minded Culture

In your organization, taking the steps to follow NIST 800-171 can create awareness for your employees and promote a culture of vigilance and defense against intrusions. By emphasizing your cybersecurity posture, you’ll find that your employees are more engaged with information security principles and don’t see security as an obstacle to their everyday duties.

Putting more effort into your organization’s security results in employees who want to be on the forefront of your security posture, no matter what their role is or which part of your organization they’re in. The awareness that employees gain from putting an investment into security helps them see how their everyday actions are a part of the company’s success when it comes to security, all the way down to good email practices and use of authentication tools.

Doing Everything in the Right Order

The benefits of strengthening your cybersecurity posture are many, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t wait for a breach or leak of your data before you think about it. Planning to adopt a cybersecurity standard gives you greater control over the project than needing to do it reactively, either to an event or an opportunity. Making sure that you have the support of your leadership and your employees going into it will help involve everyone in the process and create the culture changes needed to increase your organization’s security.

Above all, though, it can be more costly to adopt a standard or framework as a reaction to an event, or as a need on a specific timeline. If you need to become compliant on an emergency basis instead of a carefully planned timeline, you may incur higher costs, and in the meanwhile, not be benefiting from a lower insurance cost. If a breach happens, it can be damaging to your reputation and relationships in such a way that adopting a better posture is necessary, instead of an innovative way to build relationships and do business.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team