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Why being compliant isn’t the same as being secure

Business / Risk Management

Why being compliant isn’t the same as being secure

In the world of cybersecurity, two terms that are often used interchangeably are “security” and “compliance.” However, they are not the same thing.  As cyber threats increasingly become a business-critical issue for all organisations, it is time for organisations to step up from simply being compliant to actually being secure.

So, what is the difference?

Compliance refers to the adherence to a set of standards or regulations. These standards can come from various sources such as government regulations, industry standards, or internal policies. Compliance can cover a wide range of topics, including data privacy, data protection, access controls, and incident reporting. The goal of compliance is to ensure that an organisation is meeting the requirements set forth by these standards and regulations.

Security is the practice of protecting a system from malicious attacks or unauthorised access. This involves identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities and implementing measures to mitigate those risks. These measures can include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, encryption, and multi-factor authentication. The goal of security is to ensure that the system is protected from both external and internal threats.

Many businesses will be able to show that they have processes in place to ensure they are compliant with the safe use and protection of that data. However, how many of those businesses can say that data is truly secure?

So, what can businesses do to ensure they are ticking all boxes:

Assess the risk:

A risk assessment helps businesses to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats. It is also important to understand the risks associated with different areas of the business, but also risks associated with your third-party suppliers.

Risk assessment is only the first stage, and must include not only ‘web infrastructure scans’ and a security rating, but also interaction with the vendor, validation of accreditations and assurance that policies are in place and effective. This cannot be done without involving the vendor.

Develop cybersecurity aware policies:

Cybersecurity policies outline the steps that businesses will take to protect their data and operations. This includes procedures for access control, incident response, data backup, and disaster recovery. Use industry standards and approaches, this will simplify gaining accreditations relevant to business insurance and client demands.

Implement a vendor risk management system:

As mentioned in one of our previous blogs, vendors can be a weak link when it comes to cybersecurity. Businesses should look to manage this by implementing a vendor risk management system to assess, monitor, and mitigate risks associated with their vendors.

Assurance of vendors and suppliers includes the provision of expertise and recommendations to remediate risk found in your stakeholders. If a breach of your vendor would cause you reputational/financial damage, we consider them part of your ‘Extended Enterprise’, so investing in making them safer benefits all parties.

This collaborative approach generates significantly stronger relationships and shared understanding of risk, so when something does go wrong (and it will) the links are already in place to respond.

Train your employees:

A huge 82% of data breaches are caused by human error, therefore a huge part of your strategy needs to be focused on this element. Employees are often the weakest link in cybersecurity. They may unwittingly expose sensitive information or fall for phishing scams.

Businesses should provide training to employees on best practices for cybersecurity, such as using strong passwords and being aware of phishing attempts.

The changes to working patterns resulting from the pandemic have presented businesses with a lot of opportunity to work more inclusively across borders and over long distances. This results in even more dependence on technology vendors and systems for secure working and exchange of ideas. The cyber awareness of employees who might not be available for in-person meetings is therefore critical.

Regularly test and update security measures:

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process. Businesses should regularly test their measures to ensure they are effective and up to date. This can include penetration testing, vulnerability scanning and software updates.

So, whilst security and compliance go hand in hand they are not interchangeable and businesses need to have appropriate solutions, measures and strategies in place to ensure their business is not only ticking boxes on compliance but also protecting themselves and their clients from security risks.

With C2 Risk you can visualise and manage your digital risk all in one place. Speak to us today to find out how you can ensure your extended enterprise is protected against the ever-evolving landscape of third party and vendor risks.

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