As cybersecurity concerns increase, so have government regulations. The problem, however, is that these regulations are not all enforced on the federal level, and sometimes pertain only to specific types of businesses. It is important for  businesses to understand the regulations for their industry and/or geographic location and take steps to put the right cybersecurity program in place in order to comply. To help with that process, here is a short guide to four of the most important cybersecurity and privacy regulations in the U.S. today.

  • HIPPA –  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) is one of the oldest and well-known federal privacy regulations in the U.S. These regulations requires that all companies within the healthcare and health insurance industry implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the protection of all electronic health information. This includes periodic risk assessment reports, workforce training and management, and access and audit controls. More information on HIPPA and how to ensure compliance can be found here


  • NYSDFS Cybersecurity Regulations – In 2017 The New York State Department for Financial Services put in place regulations for all financial institutions requiring a license to operate in New York. These regulations require that a comprehensive cybersecurity program be put in place including the designation of a Chief Information Security Officer, the implementation of cybersecurity policies based on  a comprehensive risk assessment, and periodic penetration and vulnerability tests. The regulations require businesses to provide cybersecurity training for employees, limit the amount of time data is retained, encrypt all nonpublic information, audit their third party vendors, develop an incident response plan, as well as notify the NYSDFA of any breach of nonpublic information. 


  • Securities and Exchange Commission: As of 2018, the SEC has put in place cybersecurity initiatives designed to protect retail investors from cyber-related attacks. These regulations effect all investment and public companies operating in the U.S. The role of these initiatives is primarily to provide resources for business to identify and assess cybersecurity risks, detect compromises to systems, plan for response to compromises, and steps to recover stolen data. However, SEC does require companies to report how data is being secured, and any cyber-related incidents such as data breaches. You can find the SEC’s resource page here. For even more information, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has additional resources and checklists for small business.


  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): The CCPA is one of the newest regulatory laws in the U.S. and provides consumers extensive control over how businesses collect and use personal information. The law applies to all for-profit entities doing business in California that collect personal consumer data. According to the CCPA, companies must provide consumers information on what data is being collected, and gives consumers the right to opt-out of the sharing or selling of personal information. Consumers additionally have the right to sue if a breach occurs when the company used careless or negligent means to protect data. The CCPA will go into effect in January 2020, and the full initiative can be found here



While not all of these regulations are will pertain to your business, it is likely that such initiatives will be standardized across industries and states in the near future. It is therefore essential that businesses begin to put some of these practices in place now. Here are some basic steps that can be taken today:

  1. Develop a cybersecurity policy. Two tools that can help come from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which provides security and privacy controls for federal organizations, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS) within the context of the organization.
  2. Work towards improving the security controls in the organization with special emphasis on access control, data encryption, security governance, incidence response, vulnerability management (eg: patching and scanning), and vendor management.
  3. Train everyone on their role in cybersecurity
  4. Have someone in the organization responsible for cybersecurity and make sure they are getting training.

Finally, while the emphasis in this post is compliance, recognize who you are really doing this for:  your customers, your employees, your investors and yourself.