IT Compliance vs. IT Security: What’s the Difference?

As technology advances, cybersecurity issues keep evolving. At the same time, government mandates on a national, state, and local level force businesses to restructure their cybersecurity framework to pass various relation requirements.

When trying to balance cybersecurity risks and compliance mandates, businesses might try and focus on one or the other, hoping that by doing that everything will be covered. Yet the reality of the situation is that both IT security and IT compliance are essential parts of a business’s technological plan. 

But what’s the real difference between them? In this article, we’ll break down the differences between IT security and IT compliance, as well as their roles in securing your business operations.

What Is IT Security?

IT security can be defined as the practices, procedures, and strategies to prevent unauthorized access to business networks, data, and computers. IT security aims at maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information by restricting hackers. 

Some of the measures that can be implemented can include 

  • Firewalls
  • Content filters
  • Restricted network access for employees
  • VPNs
  • Cloud computing
  • Employee security training

The list goes on and on. Essentially, IT security takes the unique technological needs of your business and finds solutions to ensure your data is safe.

What Is IT Compliance?

IT compliance is a set of standards and regulations that businesses must fulfill to meet a third party’s requirements. The standards consist of well-defined rules to guide how companies carry out operations such as financial reporting, handling data, or maintaining workplace safety. 

Some sources of policies and regulations include:

Industry Regulations

With data security becoming increasingly complex, some industries have requirements and regulations to safeguard intellectual and confidential property. 

For example, businesses working with government agencies must comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework (NIST-CSF).

Government Policies

Government policies include the rules which regulate all industries in the country. Examples of government regulations include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Contractual Terms

This type of compliance involves the conditions, warranties, or agreement between you and customers (Service-Level Agreement) or vendors.

Why Is IT Compliance Necessary?

Cybersecurity threats have become rampant in the recent past. Statistics show that the number of data breaches in the U.S. has significantly skyrocketed within the past decade from a mere 662 in 2010 to over a thousand by 2020. Compliance demonstrates your commitment and preparedness to protect your business operations by doing the necessary due diligence.

Staying compliant builds your brand and reputation because customers and stakeholders know that their confidential information and details are secure.

Additionally, compliance helps you avoid the risk of lawsuits, fines, and penalties associated with compliance violations.

The Difference Between IT Security and IT Compliance

While compliance is similar to security in that both aim to protect your business assets, data, employees, and customers, their ultimate goals are slightly different.

  • Compliance satisfies the requirements made by a separate entity, while security satisfies the IT needs of individual businesses.
  • Security seeks to protect business assets from external and internal attacks, while compliance focuses on maintaining specific standards for business operations to continue.
  • While compliance is considered complete upon the third party’s approval, security is an ongoing process that requires regular maintenance and improvement.

Why Security and Compliance Matters

Although security and compliance go hand in hand, compliance alone cannot protect your business. IT security and IT compliance complement each other to create a comprehensive security framework covering your business from every angle.

Finding the balance between the two concepts will empower your business to stay committed to digital security while maintaining the required standards.

Bottom Line

As technology evolves and sophisticated cybersecurity threats emerge, a strong blend of cybersecurity and compliance will be the best protection for your business. By working with cybersecurity experts, your business will become technologically secure and compliant. 

Work with Syzygy 3’s cybersecurity experts to discover a solution for you.