In today’s data driven society, compliance and security remain big priorities for businesses. In fact, the 2019 Security Priorities Study by IDG found that 66% of companies see compliance mandates as the driver of security spending. While compliance is important, it’s not enough to be the main driving force of an organization’s security approach. Checking off the compliance box doesn’t necessarily mean an organization is secure. Both compliance and security need to work together to help guide an organization to success.

Source: IDG

Compliance vs. Security

Compliance and security are often thought of as being the same but they are actually two separate actions. Compliance refers to standards that are established by a governing body and outline a general security blueprint organizations must follow. Organizations that follow compliance regulations do so to satisfy a third party. Compliance helps organizations build trust for their business partners or customers. 

Security, on the other hand, consists of all the policies, processes and controls that an organization implements to protect their information and technology assets. Organizations need to constantly maintain the tools and processes they implement to defend against threats. The main driving force of security is not to satisfy a regulatory body but to protect the organization from threats. 

Measuring Compliance and Security

Compliance and security are measured in different ways. To prove compliance, an organization has to undergo an audit. These audits only measure a snapshot of an organization because they are only conducted during a specific amount of time. The purpose of compliance is to validate that organizations have controls in place to protect data.

Security, on the other hand, is an ongoing process. Organizations need to constantly monitor and manage their infrastructure to ensure that the security technologies in place are working well and are updated to protect against the latest threats. The purpose of security is to protect data, prevent breaches and detect threats.

Staying Compliant and Secure

The best approach to compliance and security is to build an in-depth defense approach that not only encompasses compliance needs but takes into consideration the organization’s assets and how to best protect them. A compliance lead approach often leads to organizations only implementing the bare minimum for security. For example, an organization can say they have a disaster recovery plan in place but if they haven’t tested their plan, they won’t know if it will work as intended in the event of an actual emergency.

Both compliance and security work together to manage risk. However, security makes it easier for organizations to achieve compliance. By implementing security technologies and policies organizations, organizations show that they have proper security controls in place. Advanced security technologies like security information and event management (SIEM) systems generate log data that is useful for reporting. SIEM monitors all activity on your devices which validates the processes and controls you are taking to protect data. This information is vital for report generation necessary to prove compliance as required by various regulations. Generating reports and documents is time consuming but already having access to this documentation through the security controls you’ve already implemented can make it easier to provide in the event of an audit. If proper security controls are in place and can be validated and measured, meeting compliance regulations will be an easier process.