What is a SIEM & Does Your Business Need One?

What is a SIEM & Does Your Business Need One?

Cyber attacks are without a doubt one of the most serious threats to modern industry and business. A single security breach can cost a company millions of dollars in lost revenue, damaged reputation, and legal fees – and that’s just scratching the surface of the true extent of the damage they can cause. That is why security posture, or cybersecurity readiness, is such an important part of an organization’s infrastructure that warrants heavy prioritization and investment. While there are lots of ways to do this, each with their own pros and cons, it takes layers of defense, strategy, and planning to build a resilient and reliable perimeter that you can depend on to protect your business and your customers.

One of the most ubiquitous and effective layers of that perimeter is the implementation of a SIEM tool. SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management, and it is a software platform that collects, stores, analyzes, and reports on security logs from across your network. This data can include things like firewall logs, web server logs, and intrusion detection system (IDS) alerts. The SIEM solution uses this data to identify potential threats and security incidents. This can be done by looking for patterns and correlations in the data or by comparing the data to known threat intelligence. Once a threat is identified, the SIEM solution can generate alerts, send notifications, or even take automated action to mitigate the threat.

Why do you need a SIEM?

There are many reasons why businesses need a SIEM solution. Here are just a few:

  • Increased visibility: A SIEM solution gives you a comprehensive view of your security posture. This information can be used to identify potential threats, investigate security incidents, and altogether boost your security visibility.
  • Reduced risk: A SIEM solution can help reduce your risk of a security breach. By identifying and mitigating threats early on, you can drastically limit the extent to which they can cause damage to your business.
  • Improved compliance: A SIEM solution can help you meet your compliance requirements. By collecting and storing security logs, you can demonstrate to regulators and customers alike that you are taking steps to protect your data.
  • Reduced costs: A SIEM solution can help reduce your security costs. By centralizing your security logging and analysis, you can save money on hardware, software, and personnel.

How to choose a SIEM solution

There are many different SIEM solutions available on the market. When choosing a SIEM solution, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Your budget: SIEM solutions can range in price from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You need to choose a solution that fits your budget.
  • Your needs: Not all SIEM solutions are created equal. Some solutions are better suited for small businesses, while others are better suited for large enterprises. You need to choose a solution that meets your specific needs.
  • Your requirements: Some SIEM solutions come with a variety of features and functionality. Others are more basic. You need to choose a solution that meets your specific requirements.

A SIEM solution is a valuable tool for any business that wants to improve its security posture. By collecting and analyzing security data from across your network, a SIEM solution can help you identify potential threats, investigate security incidents, and improve your overall security posture. While there is no such thing as a single solution for cybersecurity, as part of an otherwise robust, and well managed security infrastructure, a SIEM solution provides an unparalleled level of control and insight that will allow you to take your security posture to the next level.

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Outsourcing HIPAA Compliance

If your organization deals with any sort of healthcare-related data, chances are that you have heard of HIPAA at some point, and for good reason. HIPAA is a cornerstone US law that governs the protection and privacy of health information, and non-compliance can entail notoriously eye-watering penalties enough to warrant close attention. One catch with HIPAA compliance, however, is that the standards for compliance aren’t necessarily as cut-and-dry as other compliance frameworks, based more on the reasonability and appropriateness of measures rather than their existence or lack-thereof. This goes to make HIPAA compliance a strong option to outsource, for a number of reasons we’ll run through shortly.

Before we dive too deep into HIPAA’s minutiae, let’s quickly refresh ourselves on what constitutes HIPAA. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a law in the US that aims to protect the health information of individuals (hereby known as PHI, or Protected Health Information) when said information is used by organizations. In terms of protection HIPAA generally looks to ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to avoid unintended disclosures, appropriate privacy considerations are in place to define what a fair disclosure is by patient standards, and appropriate planning and notification structures are in place to ensure a timely and effective response if privacy or security standards do get breached.  

As to why HIPAA is so critical to pay attention to, there are two major reasons. One is that non-compliance comes with a heavy price – this can range from civil penalties like suspension of processing activities, corrective action plan mandates, or per-record-violation fines of up to $50,000, all the way to criminal penalties leading to separate, higher fines or even prison time. This makes HIPAA compliance a serious concern for finances, reputation, and legal liability. The second major aspect to pay attention to is how broad the scope of who is considered to be a processor (or in HIPAA’s terminology, “covered entity”) under HIPAA, being healthcare providers, plan-handlers, clearinghouses, and as of the 2013 Omnibus rule, any subcontractors of the aforementioned parties. This can make applicability more common than many organizations would think, so if healthcare data is touched at all caution is advised.

Given the nature and criticality of HIPAA compliance, it’s clear that in most every case where applicable the process of attaining compliance is worthy of investment and high prioritization. And while a good option in this case would be hiring, training, and tasking internal staff/resources toward HIPAA compliance specialization, oftentimes companies find outsourcing these compliance checks to be a more cost-effective solution. This trend is due to a number of factors, such as:

  • Specialization – Full HIPAA compliance can be complex to identify and implement, thus making staff training a slower and more error-prone process than hiring a company that specializes in said compliance implementations. Additionally, compliance firms generally hold a keener awareness of other relevant compliance requirements that may be special to your organization.
  • Objectivity – It can be tough for internal staff to fully gauge the reasonability and appropriateness of HIPAA controls when only viewing their company’s environment in isolation, be it for lack of extra-organizational context for determining effectiveness or a reluctance to report major issues to management. A compliance firm can view your company in context of the many others that have aimed for the same controls to best make fitted-decisions and as a business-best interest are known to be straightforward and detailed in reporting.
  • Cost – When pushing toward a new compliance effort many companies underestimate the cost involved with getting internal resources ready to handle the process – between additional training, labor-hour requirements, compliance software, and the inherent risk cost for expensive HIPAA errors, the price for internal compliance checks can add up fast. An external compliance firm, on the other hand, comes with all the training, software, and experience required, and will only need to be staffed for whatever hours are required for your audit interval. For many companies, this only amounts to a handful of hours a year, making outsourcing relatively cheap in contrast to internal training in many instances.

Altogether it’s fair to say that if there’s a chance HIPAA applies to your company then there’s a guarantee that you want to get it right. And if you’re looking to ensure a quick, efficacious, and cost-effective compliance process then outsourcing HIPAA compliance is an option worth due consideration. 

Looking for an expert in HIPAA compliance to outsource to? Or could you use some assistance directing and refining an existing team? Either way, CyberData Pros’ analysts have audited systems, remediated errors, and trained staff for HIPAA compliance many times over. Contact us now for a free consultation and to learn more about our services.

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What is A Compliance Calendar and Why You Need One

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is more important than ever before! With the growing number of cyber threats, it’s important to stay on top of your security measures to protect the personal information and sensitive data within your company. There are multiple ways to ensure that you are keeping up with your security and properly protecting sensitive information from cyber attacks, such as keeping up to date with quarterly vulnerability scans, annual penetration tests, risk assessments, internal security audits and more. One challenge that comes with implementing all of these services, however, is that they all require some form of time and scheduling. This scheduling element can sometimes present an obstacle for a business getting started, so in this blog we will be discussing some of the more important projects for cybersecurity and explore how your schedule may look once we begin.

Having a cybersecurity expert on your team will likely change your schedule in a few ways!

Depending on the scope of the services your business requires, your calendar may include regular meetings with the analyst to discuss ongoing security issues, project deadlines for implementing new security measures or updates, and occasional emergency meetings to respond to security incidents. For example, if your business would like to implement vulnerability scans as a service, there are multiple factors to consider for scheduling. Meetings with the analyst will be needed with some regularity, the frequency depending on scope of the vulnerability assessment. Past those meetings come performing the scans themselves – typically, vulnerability scans should be conducted every quarter, meaning you’ll need to schedule that block of time accordingly. Finally, vulnerability scans can help identify potential security weaknesses or gaps. These weaknesses may include weak passwords, outdated software and any other issues that would be easy for hackers to get into. These scan findings are important to address, so post-scan it’s best to leave some time available for the analyst to discuss the risks and remediation options.

Another service that should be added to your calendar is a ISO 27001 preparation and certification process. The frequency of these meetings can depend on a variety of factors including specific needs and goals. To achieve and maintain an ISO certification, your business may need to have regular meetings scheduled to implement and review security policies and procedures, including items like a business continuity plan, disaster recovery plan, and incident response plan. Additionally, a large part of the ISO process is the internal security audit, which typically requires walkthroughs from various business stakeholders – these can be tricky to coordinate and find time for depending what other projects are going on, which makes them important considerations for the ISO schedule. Past that, when it comes to maintaining an ISO certification, your business needs to have quarterly information risk council (IRC) meetings. IRC meetings are meant to help ensure that your business is at its best practices and ensure that your risk management strategies are up to date and often the party is expected to ultimately approve/review policies by auditors, so these routine meets are critical items to coordinate and account for. The ISO process can sound like a lot on paper, but with attentive scheduling and prioritization the process can often be accomplished fairly smoothly.

Overall, your calendar may become more structured and planned out as you work with a cybersecurity analyst to implement and maintain your security measures. It’s important to prioritize cybersecurity and set aside enough time and resources to ensure your systems and data are properly protected. All in all, there are several reasons why a business should maintain cybersecurity services. A business stores a lot of sensitive data such as financial information, customer data, employee records, and confidential business plans. A successful cyberattack can interrupt business operations, and most importantly, initiate loss of revenue. Therefore, by establishing and maintaining cybersecurity services on your calendar, you will help protect your business from cyber threats, maintain compliance, and most importantly build trust with customers.

To find out how to set up a compliance calendar and for a free consultation, please contact us. We assist hundreds of clients with their compliance calendar and perform other data privacy and cybersecurity services.

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Outsourcing SOC 2 Readiness

If you happen to have read through our previous blogs or follow CyberData Pros on LinkedIn, then you may be familiar with SOC 2. For those who aren’t, we’ll recap with a brief summary of what a SOC 2 report is and the benefits it provides for your organization. We’ll then discuss some of the reasons why it makes sense to outsource this service and how CyberData Pros is positioned to help you achieve success.

A System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 report is received following a successful audit by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in adherence to the standards published by the AICPA. Achieving this designation serves to provide assurances about the controls in place at your organization, as the audit process focuses on some or all of the principles of security, confidentiality, privacy, availability, and processing integrity. 

There are a variety of reasons why a business might pursue SOC 2. It is widely recognized and signals to partners, vendors, and customers that they are dealing with a reputable and secure organization. It provides trust and assurances that bolster your reputation, leading to new business opportunities and sales. It can save time and resources by cutting down on the business interruptions that come with constantly undergoing individual audits and responding to security questionnaires. Finally, it might even be required by certain industries and regulations.

Whatever the reason, going through a SOC 2 assessment requires a commitment of time, involvement, and resources. It can be a complex journey, and it’s imperative that you have experts on the subject in your corner. While it is possible to prepare for and undergo the audit process with only in-house staff, it’s usually not recommended. Ideally, you want an impartial party reviewing your policies and processes to identify gaps and weaknesses so that they can be remedied before the audit. In-house staff may bring a biased-approach, such as not wanting to call out a particular risk out of fear of putting themselves or other coworkers in jeopardy or throwing someone under the bus. Second, staff may be unfamiliar or not have any experience with the SOC 2 process, which could lead to less than desirable results. That said, from a business and HR standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to create a new full-time position just for achieving SOC 2 compliance, either. Additionally, because of the major undertaking and work required, it places a huge burden on staff which hinders them from performing their regular duties.

By working with CyberData Pros as your SOC 2 compliance consultants, all the issues mentioned above can be alleviated. While we are external partners, our goal is to work as a team to help you achieve success. We’ll provide unbiased expert advice, even when that sometimes means having difficult conversations, so that you’ll be ready and prepared for anything an auditor may ask. Our team has helped many organizations successfully through the audit process, so we bring the expert knowledge and real-world experience you need. By outsourcing SOC 2 services, you free up focus and lessen the burden on staff by allowing us to take on the heavy lifting. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

If you’re interested in pursuing SOC 2 designation, reach out to us now for a free consultation and see how CyberData Pros can open up new opportunities for growth and success for years to come. 

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2023 Data Privacy State Laws Series: CPA

If you’ve been following along, you probably noticed a lot of similarities between VCDPA and CTDPA. The next state data privacy law we’re going to look at, the Colorado Privacy Act (CPA), completes our trio of closely aligned laws coming into effect this year. Each has their own unique quirks, but they find a lot of common ground. CPA comes into effect on July 1st, and will have a 60 day cure notice that will remain in effect until January 1st, 2025. 

Much like the other state laws we’ve looked at for 2023, CPA codifies the right to know, right to rectification, right to portability, right to deletion, right to opt-out of sale, and the right to opt-out of target advertising. One of the unique features of CPA is the requirement to establish and provide an internal appeal process if you choose to deny a consumer’s request to exercise any of the previously mentioned rights. Additionally, CPA requires you to inform the consumer of their right to contact the Colorado Attorney General if after the appeal process they have concerns about the result of the appeal. The Colorado Privacy Act sets a limit to the number of times a consumer may request to exercise their right to data portability in a calendar year. While any entity subject to CPA must provide a consumer with their personal data in a portable format at the request of the consumer, they may only exercise that right twice per calendar year. 

One question many data controllers likely have about CPA is do they have to store or maintain personal data in a way that can be associated with a consumer if they request to exercise one of the above mentioned data rights? The answer to that is no, if the data you process is de-identified or unreasonably burdensome to associate with an authenticated consumer request you do not have to set up a process to maintain data in order to associate personal data with an authenticated consumer request. From a consumer privacy perspective this is likely a more ideal scenario anyway.

Additionally, the CPA requires data controllers that process data for the purposes of profiling, processing sensitive data, targeted advertising, or selling personal information conduct a data protection assessment for each of these processing activities. These data protection assessments only apply to processes generated or created on or after the effective date of July 1st, 2023. A single data protection assessment can address similar data processing activities. Controllers will have an obligation to provide data protection assessments to the Colorado Attorney General upon request, though they will remain exempt from public review and Colorado Open Records Act requests.

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