Failing to understand the difference between security and compliance is the problem which comes time after time, regardless the regulatory standard being discussed. Many organizations think that security and compliance are the same thing. At other times, they are occupied by the complex regulations to the extent that they stop focusing on security altogether.
Let’s use PCI as an example in the Target Corp case. In late 2013, over 70 million debit and credit card numbers were stolen from this giant corporation. Target Corp. was validated as PCI-compliant only two months before the breach.
As security experts emphasize, compliance doesn’t equal security. It is only an overview of how your security program meets a specific set of security requirements at a given moment in time.
This was evident in 2015. Many companies that were deemed to be compliant were victims of major data breaches.
This led to many C-level officers losing their jobs and the companies developed strategies to change the entire information security practices. Other companies hired new or promoted the level of CISO position.
The lesson these businesses have learned is that both security and compliance are very critical in protecting sensitive data. An organization is at risk of being breached if it lacks smart, thorough and active security program as well as a solid compliance plan. Data breaches which happen if a company lacks such practices lead to expensive fines, increased audits and brand damage.
An organization must have an advanced security program which exceeds the specific sets of compliance requirements for it secure its cloud environment from cyber criminals.
Here are some of the common mistakes organizations make when it comes to understanding security and compliance.
Security & Compliance Are Not the Same
Thinking compliance and security are one and the same is the most common misconception. You should understand that they play different roles, both in the internal environment and the clouds too.
- Security is responsible for protecting information from threats. It does this by controlling how the information is provided and used.
- Compliance, on the other hand, is the reporting function or demonstration of how the current security program meets set security requirements. These security requirements are normally established by regulatory organizations like HIPAA, PCI or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Checking the box is not enough
Another common misconception amongst groups is to believe that compliance regulations address all the security needs. The ‘checkbox’ mentality definitely leads to inadequate protection. The reason behind this is the fact that compliance follows a set of specific requirements that change gradually, but not the daily changes in the security setting.
An organization which depends on compliance cannot be secure. Compliance ensures that a specific set or requirements are in place – this happens only once a year.
A proper security program keeps the entire organization safe. Being compliant normally results to a minimal baseline of protection – the equivalent of earning a D grade.
For an organization to protect itself against sophisticated threats, it must elevate security and develop a primary approach. These controls should integrate with each other to create a cohesive, multi layered security framework.
Guidance on using security to be compliant
Now, that you clearly understand the critical differences between security and compliance, here is the guide to ensure that your cyber-security provider covers both effectively.
- Ask questions – you should understand that all security providers don’t provide the same level and type of services. Some providers only offer the least security controls to address compliance. So, you must ask the right questions when evaluating prospective security providers.
- Ask for demonstration – you can also look for an independently validated security provider who can conduct their own audit and convince you how they can meet security and compliance needs through a clear and thorough documentation.
- Multilayered security – if the security provider’s services depend on one device or method, it only requires a single compromise to put your organization at risk.
- Honest and upfront – lastly, look for a security provider who is completely transparent and can clearly explain to you how your organization is protected.