Security vs. compliance. Why it has to be both

The rise of digital transformation has meant that audit and regulatory compliances are a constant battleground for many security professionals. 

Perhaps the question then is, are you able to guide your organisation through this battleground safely and securely?

Let’s find out:

Let’s define compliance

Based on a risk assessment, controls to protect the organisation are put in place by a group of individuals that provide a guide or blueprint for the security of certain kinds of data. 

Risk management teams that govern compliance standards issue them as a minimum bar for security. Controls to protect are enforced through audits or assessments that are either self-administered or coordinated by a third party. 

 Compliance is;

  • practised to satisfy external requirements and facilitate business operations. 
  • driven by business needs rather than technical needs. 
  • completed when the third party is satisfied.

Let us then define security

Security means the application of processes and features to protect the organisation’s data. 

Good security requires threat identification by constantly evaluating risk and threat intelligence as well as being alert of any suspicious activity in your environment. 

Security is inherently risk-based. 

By not only measuring the effectiveness based on security controls in place, but the achievement of security is truly shown by the ability to protect against and reacting to threats. It’s difficult to put protection on a metric because it is not easy to track. That doesn’t mean it should be underappreciated as one data breach can ruin an organisation.

So what is the difference between security and compliance?

Having compliance within your organisation doesn’t result in security, nor are they the same thing. Compliance simply means that you have met the minimum security and regulatory standards.

Security states the methods of policies, procedures and security controls that define how an organisation stores, processes, consumes and shares information.  

This is done to effectively and verifiably protect your organsation from cyber threats. 

A difference worth noting is that compliance needs to change slowly and predictably, whereas, security, is in an everlasting state of change. 

This usually results in compliance being a few steps behind the current state cyber threats.

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What are the benefits of having both security and compliance?

Long story short… 

You can’t have one without the other. 

You can’t complete your compliance checklists if your security needs are not met. This can leave your organisations data and systems without adequate security. 

When you are secure and compliant you need a holistic Information Security Management System (ISMS) approach that puts your security controls into a comprehensive framework. 

Compliance standards can’t give you that framework alone. The implementation of both compliance and security is what will give your organisation true security.

It’s time to think differently about security and compliance

We know that risk management has to start with complete transparency and the continuous evaluation of risk. 

We foresee that compliance and security initiatives won’t reduce in scope but will most likely be an integral part of every single organisation. 

We need to put programs with the idea that security is and will continue to be a competitive advantage for every organisation that deploys Software as a Service. 

To achieve a secure operating environment, evaluating third-party risk and compliance will have to become as important. 

The goal is to maintain security while achieving compliance in an attainable way.

Key takeaways 

To wrap it up, in order to gain true security, you need to put controls in place to protect your organisation from data breaches. 

The 4th revolutionary industry is forever evolving, so we can never truly be protected. 

What we can at least do is minimise the risk of data breaches by constant evaluation of the compliance standards.  

Compliance frameworks and tools are available to cater to your organisation’s needs. Security programs should also be put in place to educate employees about what compliance standards and procedures they are expected to follow. That means not only security teams and compliance teams that are driving this but the whole organisation.


Are you ready to minimise your digital risk today? Why not schedule a call with one of your security experts to get started 

A cybersecurity expert dedicated to protecting organisations against the digital risks associated with digital transformation.

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