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Security vs. Compliance: Do You Know the Difference?

The terms security and compliance are often used interchangeably; however, this is a dangerous misconception because an organization can be compliant but not necessarily secure. The goal of any IT department should be to establish a complete security program while meeting compliance obligations within the plan. To accomplish that goal, you must first establish the distinctions between compliance and security.

What is Compliance?
Compliance relates to the application of third-party data privacy regulations on the organization, by way of industry or association norms and contractual requirements. It focuses on the specific way any type of data is handled by a company and what regulatory frameworks (requirements) are necessary to store and protect valuable information. Examples of frameworks could be CIS Controls and HIPAA that require companies protect the integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI). Companies may be required to align with multiple frameworks at any given time—and overseeing these can be time-consuming. Compliance requirements can include policies, regulations and legal judgments that may cover any or all of the following types of data: personally identifiable information (PII) data such as medical and financial data.

What is Cybersecurity?
Security is defined by how a business consumes and processes data in ways that protect against cyber threats and malicious activity. It includes a system of practices, processes and tools used to detect, mitigate and safeguard information, but this can include business processes and physical security measures as well. Building a security strategy with network malware protection, intrusion detection systems and access controls is great, but organizations must ensure that their devices and their people are included in security details. Including training as an element of security makes sure employees understand the inherent risks their daily use of technology passes on to their company.

A key difference between compliance and security is that a security posture is in a continuous state of change meaning that tools and processes are adapting and changing sometimes day to day. Compliance requirements change predictably and often slowly based on laws, new regulations and best practices. Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean that “being compliant,” while a critical element, may be a few stages behind current or new cyber threats.

Meeting compliance regulations will never cover all of a business’s security needs. Compliance only ensures that a specific set of requirements are met rather than a comprehensive, advanced, and multilayered security program is in place. It should be a byproduct of a flexible and thorough security strategy with proper systems and tools.

To safeguard against cyber threats and ensure that your organization is meeting its industry’s security compliance, contact Computer Solutions for a security assessment to get started building an elevated security program.