Does Compliance Equal Security?

The short answer is no, but the short answer is never the whole answer when facing complex issues. It’s possible to have a rigorous information security program in place that does not fulfill regulatory requirements, and it’s possible to check every compliance box and overlook security holes. Even though one does not guarantee the other, security and compliance are interconnected. Organizations that use a holistic approach to manage both obligations can benefit from economies of scale while staying ahead of regulatory changes and new threats.

Lead By Example

As with information security, compliance needs top-down leadership. If executives downplay the importance of compliance and security, everyone else in the organization will treat them as hurdles to overcome instead of best practices that advance business objectives. Leadership should encourage adherence to the spirit of compliance and security by educating users about the critical role of compliance and security and encouraging people to report problems when and if they find them.

Begin with Compliance

Use compliance objectives to provide a common language for how the organization thinks and talks about security concerns. It’s easy to fall into the habit of viewing regulations as barriers, but it’s more effective to treat them like a baseline for protecting companies and consumers from practices that create more risk than reward. They are not the be all and end all of information security, but they are a pragmatic starting point. Utilize compliance goals to dig deeper into key areas of information security, giving form to overall efforts.

Consolidate Effort

Employ a unified approach to risk, compliance and cybersecurity management and take advantage of economies of scale. Cohesive oversight of all three elements creates a natural system of checks and balances where stakeholders understand and review internal and external changes to assess their impact on the whole system. For example, if a new tool comes on the market promising better patch management, companies with a unified system can quickly assess how the change impacts compliance and risk, determining if the hot, new solution is truly a good fit for the overall health of the organization. The ability to assess changes to security and compliance simultaneously makes an organization more agile, resilient, and efficient.

There are no tools that eliminate the need for regulatory compliance or information security programs, but companies that integrate security and compliance make the most of their investments in both.