File integrity monitoring (FIM) is a crucial part of regulatory compliance and data security for businesses and other organizations. Basically, FIM involves monitoring all attempts to access or make changes to any electronic files and folders with sensitive information, determining whether an attempt is unauthorized or inappropriate and notifying the appropriate parties.
Organizations that are required to abide by various federal laws, including the Health Information Portability and Protection Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), must have a strong FIM system in place to maintain what’s known as the “CIA Triad.” That stands for the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data.
A strong FIM system helps protect sensitive and confidential information from unauthorized access, misuse and tampering. If an organization that is required to have FIM doesn’t have it, it can face costly legal and compliance penalties.
Even if not legally required, there’s value to FIM
File integrity management is often strongly encouraged under federal laws that don’t require it. It’s also a wise investment. It can save an organization from substantial financial losses, damage to their reputation and considerable time and manpower dealing with a breach of their systems and the subsequent fallout.
There are various ways to implement FIM, including standalone tools as well as using your existing monitoring tools. The important thing is to have a system in place that works reliably. This can help thwart illegal activity by hackers and other external forces as well as internal parties — or at least minimize the impact.
Being proactive about your organization’s regulatory compliance can protect what you’ve worked hard to build and help you avoid serious problems and legal issues in the future. Having experienced legal guidance, whether strictly advisory or because you’re facing an investigation, is key.