Data Compliance: The Complete Guide for Upcoming Regulatory Changes

January 12, 2023

The devil’s in the data, and data is everywhere. In modern-day business, staying away from data is almost impossible, and we can’t imagine why you would want to. Back in the day, you might have kept your client information in a locked drawer and cabinet. Nowadays, it’s significantly more challenging to secure and protect. Enter data compliance.


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What is data compliance? 

Data compliance is the governance structure to formally ensure that organizations comply with all the laws, regulations and standards surrounding managing, obtaining, storing and protecting data. It includes ensuring the privacy, integrity, and accessibility of data. Data compliance governs all digital assets and data possession to prevent them from being compromised. Ultimately, data compliance is the overarching term used for how organizations must manage data. However, within the umbrella term, there are various avenues of compliance. The type of data compliance greatly depends on the kind of data you’re working with – as different laws, regulations and frameworks will determine compliance for different types of information. 

Data protection regulations and standards

As mentioned before, data compliance greatly depends on industry-specific and location-specific contributors. It’s essential to stay informed about both global and local regulations that may affect your business. It’s also important to note that regulatory frameworks may be mandatory, whereas other security compliance frameworks or standards are optional but seen as highly beneficial. Below are some of the most significant data protection regulations and security compliance frameworks. 

HIPAA compliance

First things first: HIPAA is a federal law. So, if you’re subject to The Privacy Rule, you’re obligated by law to comply with the rules and standards of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA applies to covered entities and their business associates, which include healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and certain service providers handling health information. However, the biggest question around HIPAA compliance is how to know if you need HIPAA compliance in the first place. 

In a (very broad) nutshell, HIPAA compliance protects one thing – PHI (Protected Health Information). PHI refers to all information that consists of individually identifiable health information. This includes medical histories, insurance information, test results, demographic data, or any other information related to an individual’s healthcare services or coverages. 

HIPAA has also set out four rules; The Privacy Rule, in particular, distinguishes who is subject by law to comply with HIPAA standards. The other three rules are the Security Rule, the Breach Notification Rule, and the Omnibus Rule, each focusing on different aspects of PHI protection.

Unfortunately, HIPAA compliance can get tricky, and each organization must comply with all the changing rules and legislations. But fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. 

Find out everything you need to know about HIPAA in our ultimate HIPAA Bible

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a regulation enacted by the EU to protect citizens’ data. The GDPR is also considered mandatory by law for any business with customers in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) and packs a heavy punch regarding fines and penalties for non-compliance. The GDPR sets out strict rules that all organizations must follow regarding storing and protecting their data. Similar to HIPAA compliance, GDPR also provides strict rules for reporting breaches. 

ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is an international standard that provides guidelines on how to manage information security. This standard is part of the ISO/IEC 27000 family of standards. The security standard is governed by three stated objectives; Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Although this standard is not mandatory, many organizations obtain ISO 27001 compliance as an information security best practice. To successfully obtain an ISO 27001 certification, the standard formally specifies that organizations must establish, maintain and continuously improve an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The ISMS is a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. For more in-depth  information on ISO 27001 and why organizations decide to work towards the certification, download our ISO 27001 whitepaper


SOC 2 is another optional security framework that has gained huge popularity among SaaS organizations to ensure their customer data is protected. SOC 2 is specifically designed for service providers storing customer data in the cloud. In addition, it’s important to note that unlike ISO 27001, SOC 2 is not a certification. 

Need more information on SOC 2 for your business?  Take a look at our SOC 2 whitepaper.



Why is data compliance important?

When it comes to business, trust plays a critical part in the growth. And in a digital age, data security and compliance are becoming the core indicators of an organization’s trustworthiness. Security frameworks like SOC 2 and ISO 27001 assure partners and clients that you’ve implemented a robust security culture and that you’re taking due diligence towards information security. Apart from increasing trust, a few other significant factors make data compliance a critical asset for your organization’s security posture.

Data compliance and risk management

Although every business has a target on its back regarding cybersecurity, data compliance makes the target significantly smaller. However, even with the most robust regulatory security standard, there will almost always be the chance of a breach, violation or threat. But, if your organization can prove due diligence and consistent compliance, it is possible that fines will be reduced or removed entirely. Protecting your finances and your reputation is vital. 

Regulatory compliance is mandated by law

Although the benefits of data compliance can quickly stack up, it’s important to remember that sometimes you have minimal choice. Some regulatory compliance standards, like HIPAA, are mandated by law. Therefore, organizations subject to compliance regulations must prioritize compliance to avoid hefty fines and possible criminal charges. 

However, as it is considered a law – regulatory frameworks very rarely grant you a stamp of approval or certification of proof that you’re compliant. Abiding by the law is non-negotiable, as opposed to a commendable feat. Therefore, it’s each organization’s own responsibility to ensure that they comply with the required rules and regulations. Many times, authorities will only get involved if there is cause for concern or suspicion of non-compliance. 

How to ensure data compliance with upcoming regulatory changes

Playing compliance catch-up is as tiring as it is risky. With vast daily data flowing into your business and ever-changing rules and regulations – it can become challenging for organizations to stay compliant throughout. The sad reality is that by the time organizations play catch-up or adapt their systems according to the new regulations or updates, the damage is already done, and you’ve already exposed your data to various threats. It can’t be emphasized enough just how important it is to continuously monitor your security and compliance and keep up to date with any changes.

At Scytale, we help you get compliant and stay compliant with the ultimate security compliance automation platform. Remain compliant all year round with automated monitoring and be alerted immediately of any non-compliance. Between our automation platform and expert compliance team, you can rest assured knowing your security compliance is up to date with all changes and that there are no gaps in your compliance.