Why Compliance does NOT equal security


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Being compliant is an important part of security for any business. Codes, legislation, and various standards all exist to ensure your business operations are secure. But that’s just the problem: these recommendations are truly minimal in the face of today’s challenging environment.

That’s why, while being compliant is a good first step for most companies, it can’t be the only step you take toward being secure. Compliance simply isn’t enough to guarantee that your business is as secure as it can be.

The Problem of Compliance

Problems begin to arise when ensuring adherence to various standards and legislations is the only step that businesses take to secure their operations. Most standards and laws contain only minimum requirements, which means they can’t guarantee that your operations will be secure, even if you implement all of the requirements. As an example, consider standards that require just one scan of your systems per year. There are plenty of risks that will come up over the course of a year—which means your business could be blindsided by a threat that arises between scans. While being compliant is a great first step, it is not nearly enough to keep your business safe.

What Can You Do?

Once you’ve become compliant, there are fewer checklists and how-to guides available to use, so business owners can sometimes feel lost about how to improve security. That’s partly because security can take so many different forms. There are simple ways businesses can ensure their operations are more secure, of course. One example is scanning your systems more often than the once-a-year recommendation of some standards. It’s easy to see that a single scan over the course of a year is insufficient, although it might be all that’s required of you. Scanning more frequently is an easy solution to this shortcoming—although you’d be wise to note that vulnerability scans on their own aren’t enough to make your business secure.

If you’re looking for a road map, some standards outline additional or optional steps firms can take to make sure their operations are secure. For example, HIPAA contains many “addressable” items beyond the law’s requirements. Of course, one of the best steps a business can take is adopting a risk-based approach to vulnerability management, which rationalizes IT vulnerability operations.

The Benefits

Since moving beyond compliance isn’t required and is more for your own peace of mind, the methods a firm uses to ensure operations are secure are determined by the organization. However, for almost every method, the benefits outweigh the costs. Although investing in additional scans or adopting vulnerability management software may seem like a poor use of funds, the cost of fixing a major risk or cleaning up the aftermath of a major breach is much, much higher. Mitigating risks, both known and unknown, is imperative for any business. While it’s easy to simply assume compliance equals security, your business needs much more to be secure.

The Bottom Line

Many people assume that being compliant will ensure that their business is secure. After all, standards and legislation are a key part of an organization’s effort to make business operations more secure. But simply being compliant isn’t enough. To truly be secure, businesses need to get beyond the idea that compliance on its own can ever be enough.

Businesses that do the bare minimum leave themselves open to attack as new vulnerabilities arise between scanning periods or only the highest-risk vulnerabilities are addressed. An unforeseen or unmitigated threat can cause serious damage to your systems, your operations, and your bottom line. With that in mind, investing in additional security measures is an excellent decision for almost every business operating today.