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Security Vs. Compliance – What's The Difference?

As we continue to see more severe data breaches, businesses worldwide are coming up with various compliance standards like the GDPR and CCPA. But is compliance the only factor you should be worried about? If yes, how do you ensure compliance?

Perhaps, the simplest way to ensure compliance is by securing the information your organization handles. This is obviously, easier said than done, primarily because the line between security and compliance is often blurred.

If you have always thought compliance and security are the same, the truth is that they are not. Compliance doesn’t always result in security. In fact, even if you are compliant, you can still not be secure.

So, through this article, we help you learn about the differences between IT security and IT compliance.

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity, as the name involves best practices that help secure IT systems, particularly at organizational and enterprise levels. Security professionals work to prevent attackers from harming the business data and company infrastructure and to also minimize the amount of damage during the instance of a successful attack.

Currently, the increased specialization and technical know-how have resulted in IT security not being confined to a single field or discipline. Meaning, now, cybersecurity takes a multi-layer approach to protection, spreading across the computers, networks, programs, or data that should be kept safe. In an organization, the people, processes, and technology should complement one another to build an effective defense from cyberattacks.

Information security practices due diligence and due care to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of crucial business assets. Any IT security program should take a holistic view of an organization’s security needs and implement the appropriate physical, technical, and administrative controls to meet those objectives.

Organizations can efficiently implement information security protocols through three essential functions—confidentiality, integrity, and availability. But what do these key factors mean?

Confidentiality – Company information tends to be sensitive, including customer data, innovations in work, and proprietary information. IT security aims to protect this information by ensuring only authorized users and systems can access, modify, and use this data.

Integrity –The information and the system it contains should be correct. Ensuring integrity means ensuring the system is equipped with measures to know the data stored in it is accurate.

Accessibility – it makes sure the information and systems are available when they are required. You can only rely on a system that is available.

Additionally, two other vital factors to IT security are authentication and non-repudiation.

What is IT Compliance?

IT compliance ensures that business operations in a certain market align with laws or a specific customer. It primarily revolves around the requirements of the third party, as mentioned below:

  • Government policies
  • Customer contractual terms
  • Industry regulations
  • Security frameworks

Compliance is often used interchangeably with security. While the two factors do sometimes overlap, the main aim behind compliance is different compared to security. For instance, IT security encourages an organization to protect itself, whereas IT compliance states that failure to follow compliance regulations can cause severe damages for your business.


Typically, these external rules ensure your organization is efficient in dealing with complex needs. Often, compliance demands an organization to move beyond what is considered reasonably necessary. The objectives are crucial to success as being incompliant can lead to:

  • Tarnished customer trust and business reputation.
  • Legal and financial implications can have your organization paying huge fees or being blocked from working in a specific market.

Compliance happens to be a vital business concern:

  • Countries with data privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, GDPR, and more exist.
  • Markets like finance and healthcare feature-heavy regulations.
  • Clients with major confidential standards.

Regulatory Compliance or Cybersecurity: What’s More Important?

In simple words, compliance is not security!

However, both compliance and security are equally important and go hand-in-hand.

Compliance is a crucial component of every security program. With new vulnerabilities and threats surfacing every day, you should make sure you constantly update your cyber security practices to stay on the safe side. And, this goes beyond what your industry regulations demands.

Meaning, whether compliance is in your mind or not, your organization should take a more holistic look at its information security and establish proper security measures necessary to protect your business. In order to protect sensitive data best, a good security program is vital. You also have to stay compliant.

However, cyber security is a complex beast—a lot of organizations tend to outsource some, or maybe all of their cyber security needs to a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) that offers 24/7 cybersecurity protection.

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