Scaling your organization to take on new business overseas is a momentous achievement and a milestone of growth and success. Congratulations! However, this does come with some growing pains, and that includes your information security. Keeping your data secure while doing business in one localized area or country is a challenge on its own, but opening your business to the world makes security far more complex.
Where do you begin? Our information security experts are here to help by outlining the most essential steps you need to take.
Become compliant with international security standards
If you have been exclusively doing business in the US or even across North America, you may have been able to do just fine with SOC 2 compliance alone as this is the most commonly requested security compliance certification in North America. In the rest of the world, though, there are other critical standards and regulations you’ll need to follow.
The first regulation you’ll need to know is the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, an EU law that lays out a set of data security and data privacy requirements that every organization must follow if they will be taking in traffic from EU residents. Note that the GDPR is a law, not a standard, so if you aren’t GDPR compliant, you risk hefty fines rather than just a loss of new business opportunities.
In addition to the GDPR, it’s crucial to comply with ISO 27001 and receive an ISO 27001 compliance certificate if you plan to expand internationally. ISO 27001 is the most universally accepted and requested data security standard, and it is rather similar to SOC 2. However, while there is much overlap between the controls in SOC 2 and those in ISO 27001, clients and partners that require an ISO 27001 certificate from you will rarely if ever accept SOC 2 in its place.
Check your access control system for scalability
One of the most crucial aspects of your information security is your access control system to ensure that data is only accessible to the people in your organization who must use it. However, depending on your expansion plans, your access control system may not be able to grow with you.
Some of these systems have limits that won’t meet your organization’s growing needs, like limits on locational use, limits on the number of access codes granted, limits on your ability to access remote records, and so on. Work with your engineers to understand your current system, any limitations it has that could stand in the way of your international expansion, and any steps you may need to take to remedy those limitations.
Consider physical security for added locations
As you grow to accommodate international business, you may need or want to open new locations overseas for your business. In fact, GDPR requires that you have a representative in the EU. If you do plan to open new locations overseas, remember that the physical security of those locations will play a major role in your information security. You don’t only need to protect against high-level cybersecurity hacks; you need to protect against the basics like someone getting into your office and accessing your files.
When you are looking for business spaces for these new branches or offices, consider the security measures you have in place at your current offices and whether they can be implemented in the new space. Look for security risks like shared community spaces that have access to your office. Have a plan prepared to make those new locations thoroughly secure from day one.
How to make your international data security easier
If you’re expanding your organization overseas, information security is only one of your many priorities and considerations. You’re already drowning in tax regulations, financial reporting requirements, industry-specific legal limitations, and more. While data security should never be low on your priority list, there are ways to make it easier on you without compromising quality.
The best way to do this is with a comprehensive compliance tool. An automated tool scans your system and compares it against the key standards and regulations you need to meet, such as ISO 27001 and GDPR, and gives you a to-do checklist and an in-depth analysis of how your security measures up to those criteria.