This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
In business communications systems, where data breaches happen the most, compliance plays an important role in securing information and privacy. This article lists the different types of compliance programs and why they matter in creating a secure environment for your business and customer data.
Definition: Compliance is the state of meeting the laws, standards, regulations, and ethical practices that apply to your business. There are different types of compliance programs depending on your industry sector, business type, and government legislation. Some common examples include standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which both focus on information security.
Types of Compliance for Businesses
Scope of the Regulations
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Addresses the use and disclosure of patient health information
Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
Promotes the use of electronic health records
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
Protects the security of credit card transactions
Service Organization Control (SOC) 2
Ensures the safety and privacy of customer data on the cloud
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act
Sets financial regulations for public companies
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Establishes the global standards for information security controls
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Sets guidelines for the processing of personal data from EU residents
Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI)
Limits the use and sharing of customer data in telecommunication services
Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
Requires federal agencies to implement information security controls
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
Restricts telemarketing communications to protect consumer privacy
1. Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standards to protect the storage and privacy of patient data, such as billing and medical records. HIPAA standards regulate the daily operations of many healthcare-related companies, including the tools they use, such as business phone systems.
Healthcare companies and businesses looking for unified communications should look for HIPAA-complaint voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) solutions, like Zoom for Healthcare, to ensure proper handling of patient information. Call functions, such as voicemail or call recording, are subject to HIPAA violation if they are not properly encrypted. Without it, a healthcare business will face heavy fines and corrective actions for HIPAA violations.
HIPAA compliance is required for healthcare providers, such as clinics, hospitals, and individual practitioners. However, it also covers telecommunications providers, insurance companies, and all private sectors handling, receiving, storing, or transmitting health information.
If you’re looking for more providers to consider, check out our list of the best HIPAA-compliant video conferencing solutions and find out which VoIP solution fits your business needs.
2. Health Information Technology for Economic & Clinical Health (HITECH) Act
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act encourages U.S.-based healthcare providers the responsible and safe use of electronic health records (EHR). It also introduced the stronger enforcement of privacy and security protections of HIPAA by requiring healthcare providers to perform security audits periodically.
To help clients meet the expanding requirements for HITECH compliance, many business phone providers like Dialpad have enhanced the security of their cloud communications services. These steps include the development of privacy and security controls as well as the restrictions and administrative controls to secure recordings, voicemails, and faxes.
3. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a compliance scheme that aims to protect credit card transactions against data theft and fraud. It includes a set of security standards to ensure that all companies store, process, and transmit credit card information within a secure environment.
Credit card transactions covered by the PCI-DSS:
- American Express
- JCB International
- Discover Financial Services
PCI-DSS compliance applies in the use of VoIP if the VoIP traffic containing payment card data is stored, processed, or transmitted over a merchant’s network. As long as VoIP is used to facilitate transmissions of payment card data between the cardholder and the merchant, the network used during the transmission is in the scope of PCI-DSS controls.
4. Service Organization Control (SOC) 2
Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 addresses service providers handling customer data over the internet or any company using the cloud to store customer information. Under SOC 2, companies need to establish security policies and measures concerning the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data.
If you plan to move your unified communications to the cloud, SOC 2 compliance is a basic requirement. One example is RingCentral, a cloud communications provider with a SOC 2 certification. RingCentral ensures that all the sensitive information stored on your phones, chat, voicemail, call recordings, and collaboration tools have robust security measures in place.
To learn more about the different feature sets in VoIP systems, check out our article on the top VoIP business phone features.
5. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act
The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act was enacted to reduce the number of fraudulent financial activities, especially in corporate and accounting environments. This law affects all publicly traded companies and requires them to publish data related to internal control structure and the accuracy of their financial records.
Partnering with a SOX-compliant unified communications provider minimizes the risk of audit systems deeming a business non-compliant. For example, VoIP solutions are ideal repositories of all inbound and outbound communications analytics reports. A VoIP service provider with SOX certification will ensure all digital and physical security controls are in place for its cloud-based communications and networks.
If you’re looking for a VoIP platform that meets SOX regulations, contact 8×8 to inquire about its enterprise services.
6. International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliance audit develops the global security standards to help companies implement rigorous security of their assets, including financial information, intellectual property, and employee or third-party data. It also encourages organizations to assess potential security threats and ensure they’re mitigating risks properly.
In the VoIP ecosystem, the ISO plays an important role in standardizing communications protocols. The ISO has established regulations for data packets to ensure consistency in global cloud messaging. CloudTalk is a prime example of an ISO-certified VoIP service provider that ensures strict security controls in its platform.
When choosing a VoIP service provider, it is important to note the difference between being ISO compliant and ISO certified. Being ISO compliant means an organization has yet to undergo certification auditing. Being ISO certified, on the other hand, means undergoing a more complex auditing process by a third-party auditor who will determine the organization’s conformity to ISO standards.
Setting up your own VoIP system for your business is easy and inexpensive. Check out our guide on how to set up a VoIP system to make your business communications even more efficient.
7. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a privacy legislation within the European Union (EU) that regulates the use, transfer, and collection of its citizens’ data. The policy aims to give EU nationals greater control over their data and strengthen their right to privacy. This requires all businesses handling the personal data of EU citizens to protect the information they process regardless of where they are located.
The GDPR affects all data processors, like VoIP service providers, that offer its products and services to or monitor the activities of EU residents or citizens. Companies capturing all personal data, such as an address, phone numbers, and health or financial information, over their network should adhere to the rules outlined in the GDPR.
The GDPR sets the guidelines on how companies should access information from customers and store data and recorded calls. If you’re looking for a cloud-based business phone system that’s GPDR-compliant, consider GoTo Connect.
8. Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI)
The Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) refers to the personal information that telecommunication providers acquire from their customers. It includes all customer data, such as duration, frequency, call records, and any service purchased by the customers.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires interconnected providers of VoIP to comply with the regulations governing CPNI. VoIP providers like Nextiva need to file annual reports to certify their compliance with CPNI guidelines. Based on CPNI standards, providers are not allowed to release call data from their customer’s initiated phone contact under specific circumstances. They are also required to provide password protection for account access.
9. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a U.S. federal law that requires federal agencies to implement an information security program to protect confidential data. The scope of FISMA also applies to private businesses that have contracts or offer services to the U.S. government. FISMA requires these entities to reduce their security risks and establish security guidelines, including their assets, networks, and operations.
Choosing a VoIP provider that is FISMA-compliant gives your business a competitive advantage against competitors that have less strict standards. If your company deals with highly sensitive information, such as government data, you need a fully FISMA-compliant VoIP provider like 8×8. This ensures your cloud communications platform has a comprehensive security plan in place against data breaches.
10. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a series of regulations that protect customers’ privacy against unwanted, persistent calls. It was enacted due to the increasing number of complaints about the abuses of spam calls. Since VoIP technology did not exist before TCPA was enacted in 1991, the FCC continues to update its rules and regulations to keep pace with the latest technologies.
Any business dialing a large volume of outbound calls should keep TCPA regulations in mind to avoid facing hefty fines. Most contact center software providers, like Five9, offer a built-in, TCPA-compliant dialer to ensure responsible dialing strategies. They also provide the ability to scrub numbers automatically to avoid dialing numbers by accident.
If you’re looking for the right call center solution with enterprise-level security, check out our guide on the best call center phone systems. Discover which providers have built-in tools for protecting customer data.
Why Is Compliance Important?
Compliance indicates whether a business follows the applicable laws, standards, and regulations set forth by its regulatory agency or industry. It leads to strong business standards by offering guideposts on how a business should succeed in its industry and achieve uniformity when competing in the marketplace. Compliance also sets the guidelines to ensure a fair and safe working environment for employees and clients.
Without a compliance program, it’s difficult to establish and maintain trust with customers and stakeholders. People are unlikely to transact or work with your business if no rules and norms are emphasized throughout the organization. Another obvious consequence of non-compliance is the risk of lawsuits, fines, or the eventual shutdown of your business, which leads to reputational damage and negative media exposure.
Adherence to compliance regulations prevents your business from facing legal complications that potentially impact your business, both internally and externally. Furthermore, meeting the legal obligations of your business is a reflection of how you manage your staff and treat your customers.
Tips for Staying Compliant
Staying in compliance with the law is one of the keys to getting your business up and running. But with the laws constantly changing, even the most seasoned entrepreneurs will also find staying compliant challenging.
Here are tips to ensure compliance amid the ever-changing business regulations:
Tip 1: Stay on Top of Regulation Updates
As a business owner, it is important to stay informed about the laws and regulations that apply to your business. This means being in a continuous process of knowing how these laws impact your organization. There are plenty of ways to stay updated. Consider the following:
- Join local associations related to your industry
- Subscribe to business law journals
- Sign up for updates on regulatory agencies’ websites
- Attend compliance seminars
Tip 2: Maintain High Standards for Your Team to Follow
Company compliance is worth nothing if your employees don’t know what it means to be compliant. This is why it’s important to communicate regulation updates to your staff and train them in setting up requirements. Whether they’re working remotely or on-site, they have to be informed and updated on the latest policies and procedures. This way, all employees are prepared when compliance auditing comes.
Tip 3: Have Access to a Legal Professional
Small and growing businesses have higher risks of breaking laws even if they’re done unintentionally. This is why solopreneurs or business owners need the counsel of a lawyer or a trusted legal partner who understands their business well. Consulting a legal professional will help you stay informed, assess new guidelines, and make policy adjustments where necessary.
Tip 4: Use the Right Tools
Using the right technology goes a long way in keeping your business compliant. Fully licensed and compliant service providers will keep your business secure and reduce the burden of compliance requirements. For example, the right VoIP service provider follows compliance guidelines to ensure the security and privacy of their cloud communications platform.
Business compliance and regulations are essential for handling voice traffic and customer data. Regardless of your industry, it’s important to learn about the types of compliance audits and what they mean for your business to avoid facing legal consequences. A reliable phone service provider should help you maintain a safe and secure communications environment not just for your business, but also for your clients and partners.
No business should take chances when it comes to VoIP security. Talk to your VoIP provider about its certifications, encryption capabilities, and other security measures, and see if they suit your needs.