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HIPAA, GDPR & PCI DSS. Same, Same but Different.



by Justin Reynolds

Organizations today are using more data than ever before. Indeed, data is playing a critical role in decision-making for everything from sales and marketing to the production and development of new products and services. 

There’s no doubt that data can have a transformative impact on your organization. But at the same time, it can be risky to store and use it.  

Despite the abundance of available data, you have to be very careful to remain in compliance with an ever-growing list of regulatory frameworks. Consumer privacy laws are becoming increasingly strict as governments and watchdog agencies continue to crack down and hold businesses accountable. 

Three important data privacy laws to be aware of heading into 2022 include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). 


To be sure, these laws are similar in some ways. But they also have some major differences. Knowing how each works is critical for maximizing data usage while avoiding complications and penalties. Keep reading to learn about the differences between these three frameworks so you can determine how your organization can ensure compliance.

HIPAA: An Overview

HIPAA is a major healthcare data privacy law that impacts all covered entities. This includes any healthcare facility providing treatments, operations, or payments, as well as business associates or anyone with access to patient data and provides support services. These organizations, along with any partnering entities, must demonstrate HIPAA compliance. In the event an organization or individual violates HIPAA, they could be on the hook for serious fines

HIPAA is a massive piece of legislation, impacting just about every facet of healthcare. Two critical components of the law include the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the Security Rule, which we’ll briefly examine next.  

The HIPAA Privacy Rule 

The HIPAA Privacy Rule is a set of standards that protect individuals’ medical records and personal health information. It applies to health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and providers that conduct digital healthcare transactions.  

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires organizations to protect patient privacy. It also sets limits and conditions for how they can use data without patient authorization. 

Further, it gives patients rights over their health data — including the right to examine and obtain their health records. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, patients can also request corrections to their medical data. 

The HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA Security Rule is similar to the HIPAA Privacy Rule since it provides national standards governing how healthcare agencies and associates can use personal health information. 

While the HIPAA Privacy Rule covers what companies can do with patient data, the Security Rule governs how organizations create, receive, use, and maintain data. It requires specific administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect information and ensure its integrity and confidentiality. 

What Is GDPR? 

In 2018, the EU released the GDPR, which is still widely regarded as the toughest data privacy law to date.  

While the GDPR covers the EU, it also impacts any global organization that does business with EU citizens. The GDPR provides harsh penalties for any entity that violates its strict security and privacy safeguards. Violating businesses can face fines up to €20 million or 4 percent of global turnover, whichever is greater. 

GDPR is similar to HIPAA in that it affects healthcare providers. However, it extends far beyond HIPAA and covers organizations across all industries that process the personal data of EU citizens or residents or offers goods to them. 

How the U.S. Handles Data Privacy 

The U.S. currently lacks a federal data privacy mandate like the GDPR. Instead, data privacy regulations take place at the state level. California, Colorado, and Virginia all have specific data privacy regulations, with more states expected to establish laws in the near future.  

Making Sense of PCI DSS 

Both HIPAA and the GDPR are examples of regional data protections. On the other hand, PCI DSS is a global security standard that impacts all companies regardless of where they do business. The PCI Security Standards Council sets and enforces PCI DSS requirements.  

PCI DSS Standards: A Breakdown

Merchants and payment processors have to comply with 12 global standards for PCI DSS compliance across six major goals. Otherwise, they could face fines as high as $500,000, along with other penalties

Goal 1: Build and Maintain a Secure Network

PCI DSS requires merchants and processors to install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data. In addition, merchants can’t use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters. 

Goal 2: Protect Cardholder Data

PCI DSS also requires merchants and processors to protect any data they store. Further, merchants and processors must encrypt all cardholder data when transmitting it across open, public networks.  

Goal 3: Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program 

Under PCI DSS, it’s necessary to use and regularly update antivirus software or programs. Companies must also develop and maintain secure systems and applications.  

Goal 4: Implement Strong Access Control Measures 

PCI DSS also forces merchants and processors to restrict access to cardholder data. The law also requires assigning a unique ID to each individual with computer access and restricting physical access to cardholder data. 

Goal 5: Regularly Monitor and Test Networks 

Network monitoring is another key protocol within PCI DSS. Merchants and processors must monitor and track all access to network resources and cardholder data and regularly test security systems and processes. 

Goal 6: Maintain an Information Security Policy 

PCI DSS states that merchants and processors must maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel.  

While the PCI Security Standards Council maintains PCI security, each payment card brand has its own compliance program. This includes American Express, Discover, JCB International, Mastercard, and Visa.  

Avoiding GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS Compliance Roadblocks

GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS are part of a growing list of regulatory frameworks that companies today need to watch out for.  Additional examples include the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance (PDPO), Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), to name just a few.  

Of note, China has a new national data privacy law that goes into effect on November 1, 2021. Violators face fines of up to 50 million Yuan (about $7.8 million).  

Rules and penalties vary drastically across different regulations. But, ultimately, these rules have one overarching similarity: You need to comply with them or face stiff penalties.  

For data-centric companies, this presents a unique challenge. After all, it can be very difficult to comply with multiple regulations and still use data to move at a fast pace. Developers in particular require production-like data to build and iterate software without having to constantly worry about whether it is in compliance with various regulations. 

How Enov8 Enables the ‘Data Bimodal’

At the end of the day, companies need to strike a balance between agility and security. Here at Enov8, we refer to this combination as the data bimodal

So, what does the data bimodal look like in action? It’s all about combining security-oriented and delivery-oriented methodologies in one user-friendly platform.  

To illustrate, security-oriented capabilities include data profiling for risk discovery, as well as data validation and data obfuscation. And delivery-oriented methods include having a DevOps manager for scheduling and automating operations and using data mining as well as data fabrication for generating fake test data.  

Enov8 can help your organization achieve the data bimodal using the Enov8 Data Compliance Suite — a one-stop shop that gives your team access to actionable, secure, and compliant data. 

With the help of Enov8, your team will save countless hours they would otherwise spend digging through regulatory protocols and interpreting different readings. You can also avoid messy compliance breaches, protecting your brand’s reputation along the way.  

To learn more about how Enov8 can streamline data compliance in your organization, request a demo today

Post Author

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.

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