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Could Local IT Support Help Ohio Businesses Avoid Cybersecurity Fines?

In an age where data is currency and cybersecurity threats loom large, understanding regulatory requirements is crucial for businesses. From safeguarding sensitive information to maintaining secure networks, compliance with data and cybersecurity regulations is not just a legal obligation but a strategic advantage. However, navigating the complex landscape of regulatory requirements can be daunting, especially for small businesses. In this blog, we unravel the intricacies of regulatory requirements and shed light on how businesses in Ohio can stay ahead of the compliance curve.

What Are Regulatory Requirements?

Data and cybersecurity regulations are the laws and standards that help safeguard sensitive information, like credit card info, social security numbers, and health data, from cyber threats. These regulations outline the obligations of organizations to protect data privacy, maintain secure networks, and respond effectively to security incidents. Additionally, frameworks like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework provide guidelines for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks across various sectors. Compliance with these standards helps businesses strengthen their cybersecurity and maintain trust with customers and stakeholders.

With the exception of a few global frameworks, standards tend to differ between continents, countries, and even states. The Ohio Data Protection Act, for example, aims to incentivize local businesses to enhance their cybersecurity practices by offering them safe harbor from certain breach claims, so long as they adhere to recognized standards.

Ensuring your business does comply remains up to you. Though location-specific regulations thankfully don’t change between Boardman and Youngstown, the requirements businesses across Mahoning County have to meet do vary by industry, and this is where it’s really easy to get tripped up.

 As an overview, most businesses are expected to adhere to the following:

  • Data encryption – All of your relevant devices and software should have some level of encryption, from your cloud platforms to your cell phones. This ensures that any sensitive data, from passwords to client information, is kept secure no matter what channel or device your team is using. Make sure your data backups are encrypted too – it’s important that only those with authorization can access these in the event of a breach or outage.
  • Access controls – On the topic of avoiding unauthorized access, setting restrictions on who can get a hold of what information is vital in staying compliant. Your account managers might need access to clients’ payment details; your interns don’t. Limiting access reduces the risk of slip-ups, and when combined with endpoint protection on all your devices, it enables any potential threats to be contained in one place instead of spreading company-wide.
  • Incident response planning – If the fire alarm suddenly went off in your office, how would it play out? Would chaos ensue, with your team running, yelling, and turning the place upside down? Probably not. Sure, you’d be panicked, but your team would know which doors to leave through and which designated spot to meet at, plus who’s in charge of the operation, because you have a procedure in place. The same applies to compliance. Should a crisis happen, you need to know who, what, where, and when to handle it.
  • Data breach notification obligations Okay, you’ve messed up. An accidental click on a very convincing email link has given cybercriminals access to your customers’ confidential information. Now, it’s time to let them know. In Ohio, businesses must notify anyone whose data was involved in a breach within 45 days of discovery, either electronically, by phone, or in writing. Never write off a breach as too inconsequential to warn your clients about. What they don’t know can, in fact, hurt them – and you – when they find out you’ve kept it hidden.

Regulations change like the weather, so it’s essential to not just get a handle on the current guidelines but to stay alert for updates, too. If, like many small business owners, you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this, it’s probably worth employing the assistance of an external IT provider.

Why Do I Need to Follow Them?

In short, because you can’t afford not to. Fines for not adhering to PCI-DSS regulations alone (the standards that all businesses dealing with credit card information must follow) cost between $5,000 and $100,000 per month, so bear that in mind if you’re questioning investing in compliance measures. Yes, the move to be cybersecurity-compliant can be pricey, but it’s far less expensive than being bankrupted by fines, something small businesses are at a higher risk of experiencing.

Aside from the immediate financial repercussions, non-compliance could cost you heavily elsewhere, too. Reputation is everything for small businesses, and breaching your customers’ trust pretty much ensures that anyone within 100 miles of Ohio will be warned to steer clear of your business. Once violated, trust is notoriously hard to earn back; most people won’t give businesses a second chance, so you can say goodbye to both existing and future customers.

Is Compliance Really That Complicated?

Uh… kind of. Don’t panic though, there are plenty of experienced local support providers that can help guide you through the maze.

How Can Local IT Support Help?

Any IT support team could, in theory, provide services that help you become more data-compliant. Standard offerings include things like risk assessments, security audits, policy development, and employee training – all great (and necessary) steps to cover your business. So, what are the benefits of choosing IT services closer to home?

Personalized Support: Whatever your industry, chances are they’ve encountered it before. A local team can skip trying to understand the nitty-gritty of your specific business area and focus instead on your specific business needs. This pays dividends in time saved and could help you prevent costly breaches before a regulatory body gets wind of them – or even better, before they occur at all.

Rapid Response Times: In the event of a breach, loss, or outage, local support means you don’t have to battle cross-state time zones to set things right. Technicians in your area can be dispatched and have the problem solved in the same day, optimizing business continuity and minimizing downtime that would’ve increased the cost of the issue.

Improved Security: Tech support teams that truly care about your business’ success will strive to not only get you compliant, but also to improve your cybersecurity in the long run. While meeting compliance regulations indicates you’re ready to respond to incidents when they arise, taking a proactive approach to fortifying your defenses helps minimize the risk of breaches in the first place. It’s something not every business invests in, and it’s what will set you (and a quality IT team) apart from the competition.

Local Insight: Above all, when you partner with an Ohio-based IT provider, you’re getting advice from a team with unparalleled experience navigating state-specific regulations. Cross-industry and cross-county, they’re the experts in all things compliance and cybersecurity, so you don’t have to be.

Ready for Peace of Mind?

Regulatory compliance is not just about ticking boxes; it’s about safeguarding your business, your customers, and your reputation. By adhering to data and cybersecurity standards, businesses in Ohio can mitigate risks, avoid costly fines, and build trust with their community. With the support of local IT providers who understand the nuances of state-specific regulations, businesses can navigate regulations with confidence.

Need Tailored IT Support in Ohio? We Can Help.

Based in Youngstown, Cyber Express enhances businesses across Mahoning County through client-centered IT support. Whether you’re in need of a routine security audit or are starting your compliance journey from the ground up, our friendly team of experts can offer forward-thinking solutions that help drive your business to success. For a zero-obligation conversation about compliance with one of our team members, get in touch today; we’d love to hear from you!