Why You Need to Treat Security and Compliance Holistically

Just like chocolate and peanut butter, two foods that are arguably better together, compliance and security should ideally be intertwined for optimum outcomes.

Every company needs both security and compliance to protect their assets from electronic thieves and attacks. Yet too often these efforts are siloed when they would benefit from being combined.

What IT Security Is

Let’s review what we mean by IT security. IT security is the systems, tools, and processes in place to protect a company’s (and even an individual’s) data and tech assets. When a business puts IT security in place, the goal is to protect this data or at least to minimize the impact of any breaches of the system.

This is not just some inconvenience. According to an IBM report, data breach costs surged 13% from 2020 to 2022 with costs in the millions.

The approach to IT security should be threat- or risk-based so that a company is on the offense, prepared to deflect possible attacks to its systems. You want to avoid ransomware attacks, card theft, and more. To be successful, you need to stay focused and prioritize your efforts.

Huge growth in remote work and the increase in online activity created an environment that made more people vulnerable to breaks in security since 2020. It used to be that credit card companies, healthcare companies and other entities with similar massive consumer data stores were targeted, but perpetrators have widened their net.

Even smaller businesses are at risk, with hackers using email phishing, SMS text scamming, and pretext calling to make their way in.

What IT Compliance Is

Compliance is meeting regulatory or contractual requirements that are defined by a third party, such as federal or state licensing, and privacy laws. Think acronyms: FDA, EPA, OSHA, HIPAA, FERPA, and more. This might also include contractual terms related to the product you sell.

When there is not compliance, there can be legal and financial ramifications, as well as a damaged reputation and broken trust between parties. Keep this in mind: The cost of non-compliance is more than double what it will cost to be in compliance. The costs of fines, lost revenue, and disruption to business add up fast.

It’s best to have a “checklist” approach, but this requires some customization specific to your business. A compliance checklist may include anti-virus software, multi-factor authentication, and a firewall, for example. And when a company expands globally, there can be significant compliance costs because rules vary from country to country.

As private companies do work with the government, their compliance needs may evolve to protect sensitive materials being shared electronically, including a need for a Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

For Greatest Results, Approach Security and Compliance Together

Now that we’ve looked at security and compliance as separate concepts, it’s obvious that these two efforts overlap and the best strategy is to look at it holistically. Consider these tips:

  • When Team A focuses solely on their compliance checklist, they might leave security gaps that put the organization at risk for a costly attack.
  • When Team B just zeroes in on security issues and potential threats, they could overlook specific state or entity requirements.
  • Team A and Team B can join their knowledge and expertise to be proactive and agile about the latest risks to the company data.

Compliance and security go hand in hand. Compliance lays the baseline for a company’s security plan, and diligent security over time builds on that baseline, covering every possible angle of weakness vulnerable to attack.

A Managed Security Services Partner (MSSP) can bring these teams together to go above and beyond in the commitment to digital security, which is an evolving task that requires a dedicated expert. The MSSP can assess, test, and strengthen security and compliance holistically.

In selecting your MSSP, you will want to ask how they approach compliance management, how they make network and security risk assessments, if they can do penetration testing (aka ethical hacking), and what other IT solutions they can offer.

Because security risks are 24/7, your augmented IT team will need to be on the clock with proactive security management, a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), and response support in the event of a data breach to get you back online quickly and minimize disruptions.

If your business is lacking an MSSP, please reach out to the Sikich Managed Services experts to learn how our team can keep your business both secure and in compliance.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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