Compliance vs Security

An organization must constantly be on guard against external network attacks, threats from its own staff and third-party vendors and even fatal flaws in their own technology that can place data and systems at risk. In order to address this constantly evolving necessity, every business regardless of its size must implement measures to ensure both security and compliance. While these terms are often used interchangeably, each plays its own vital role in protecting the infrastructure of an organization such as yours.

Security Defined

Let’s start with what is involved in the general issue of cybersecurity. Using both human and advanced technological input, devices and systems, cybersecurity’s purpose is multi-faceted. For one thing, it contains mechanisms to lock down an infrastructure and safeguard it against the destructive effects of attack, theft, mis-use, carelessness or equipment failure. To a great extent, this feat is accomplished through prevention with the use of advanced file integrity, vulnerability and configuration management tools. In addition, data, both in motion and at rest, is kept safe with security architectures that detect and help to mitigate attacks while monitoring ongoing logs.

All of these components are put in place to reduce the chances of breaches and minimize their effects should the worst happen. In many cases, the information they provide also enables a business to plan even tighter prevention and recovery strategies that they can use in the future. Overall, you can think of security as the web of technology, processes and controls put in place to protect stored, transmitted, utilized and distributed data from threat.

Compliance Defined

In addition to the consequences that information can suffer when a data breach occurs, there are other risks that need to be taken into consideration, including financial, legal and physical. This is where the point-in-time snapshot of security compliance enters the picture. Because the stakes of lax cybersecurity are very high, relevant industries have implemented their own specific security compliance protocols and requirements.

In order to be compliant, companies internal or external compliance teams must perform audits of all networks and other systems as well as specify staff roles and procedures, interview employees, draft thorough reports specifying strengths and vulnerabilities and communicate them to the affected personnel. If all aspects of the security infrastructure meet industry standards, its security compliance can be certified.

Compliance vs Security

As you can see, both security and compliance appear on the surface to have similar goals. However, they go about achieving them in different ways. In a sense, your compliance team is the watchdog while the security squad is the group who is being watched. Your security team’s responsibility is to put into place and implement controls that will help to ensure safety; the compliance team is charged with seeing that adequate security strategies have been put in place and are effective. Moreover, security compliance specialists must provide proof of this fact in the form of direct evidence to be provided to a third party.

How Security and Compliance Can Work in Tandem

Fortunately, there does not need to be a dichotomy between these two concepts. Instead of compliance vs security, it is far more productive to think in terms of how these vital functions can combine to form a safety net for all of an organization’s vital processes and operations. There are several ways to accomplish this critical synergy:

  • Automate as many of your security procedures and reports as you can in order to make monitoring for and documenting compliance as seamless as possible.
  • Consistently document all controls that your business security team follows that are required for compliance.
  • Keep and securely store all evidence of the security team’s work so that it can be produced during a compliance audit.
  • Keep a dynamic calendar of all security and compliance-related tasks that includes descriptions of who, where and when for each responsibility.

Although the cyber threat landscape is constantly changing, IT security compliance measures are slow to evolve. Organizations that marry the two sides of the security coin can ultimately benefit from a more productive working relationship and better-protect an environment.