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Understanding Security and Compliance

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By: reciprocity

February 5, 2018

Security and compliance are not competing but complementing interests. The two work together to safeguard both your business and customers. Compliance helps vendors to prove themselves to customers as well as avoid punitive fees from regulators. On the other hand, security helps to instill trust and prevents potentially massive financial and data losses

Difference between Security and Compliance

Let’s define these two important requirements.

  • Compliance

Compliance refers to following the best business practice guidelines set by industry regulators. Examples of compliance standards include HIPAA and PCI DSS.

Compliance is determined by industry groups, non-profit or governmental authorities, and provides standard requirements for handling certain types of data your business may have access to. Compliance standards are issued by the regulatory authorities and are used as minimum requirements for security.

Enforcing compliance standards can be done either by your business or third parties through assessments or audits.

  • Security

This refers to protecting your business and customer data from access by malicious third parties. Security mainly focuses on how the assets (software and hardware) that you use to store data are secured. Security encompasses all the features and processes of keeping your data safe. An effective security standard requires identification of risks through proactive threat intelligence and assessments. Network environments and other business infrastructure should also be actively monitored and analyzed for threats.

How Compliance Improves Your Security

Security and compliance complement each other even though they are different. The main difference between the two is that security defined by risk. The success of security is gauged based on the ability of an organization to protect against threats. On the other hand, compliance is assessed based on adhering to prescribed requirements.

Combining compliance and security makes your IT environment stronger. The best practices stipulated in the compliance standards you want to implement enhance your security efforts. For example, making your business compliant with industry frameworks such as PCI DSS involves implementing various procedures that have been tested and proven to protect data.

Security also guides compliance. For example, HIPPA requires businesses to engage in various risk assessments.

How to Create a Powerful Compliance and Security Program

Knowing how to combine compliance and security can help you create a robust program.

  • Audit your environment

To determine how to implement both security and compliance requirements, consider the needs of your organization. This means taking stock of your IT infrastructure to identify the ones used to store data.

From there, determine the dangers that the assets are exposed to. For example, are your employees well-trained to prevent the risks posed by ransomware?

  • Determine your objectives

Consider your business objectives to determine the security and compliances you should implement. For example, if you plan on taking card payments, it’s critical to meet the PCI DSS requirements.

You only have to meet compliance regulations that are necessary for your industry and relevant to your business.

  • Choose the compliance standards

Finally, determine the compliance standards to meet based on your needs. Being compliant not only enhances your security but also makes business sense. For example, customers will be ready to pay for goods or services on your store if you are PCI compliant.

Finding a Balance

While security and compliance are different, both are vital for hosting, processing and managing regulated and sensitive data. It is critical to understand your business requirements for security and compliance.

You can balance your security and compliance requirement by making sure both are part of regular business operations. Risk management should be done regularly, not just once a year. Moreover, regular audits and reviews should be part of your internal processes.

Karen Walsh graduated with a BA in Literature from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and then completed a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. In law school, she administrative law and regulatory compliance. In 2004, she started Allegro Solution where she organized the compliance programs for several community banks as a contract compliance officer. She moved into internal audit a few years later. She is an active contributing writer for Reciprocity.

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