Understanding Security and Compliance
How are security and compliance related in the modern business world? At first glance, it may seem difficult to relate the two; but a close look shows that they are inextricably intertwined. As a business, your most important goal is provide the best product at the lowest price to your consumers. Right behind this goal is security; given that they provide you with personal information, you want them to be able to trust that their details are safe. We’ll see exactly how prioritizing compliance leads inevitably to buttressing security.
What, Then, Is Compliance?
Compliance refers to your adherence to regulatory standards, as set out by specific guidelines that are tailored to your industry – as well, possibly, as some non industry-specific guidelines in the interest of the consumer. Consider the following examples of broad compliance regulations:
- PCI DSS: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard; this is one of the broader compliance mandates, and it applies to every company that does a certain minimum level of business. It’s based on the volume of branded credit cards that business processes every year, and has four levels of compliance.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: This isn’t as broad as the PCI DSS, and provides guidelines for the safeguarding of electronic information in the medical industry.
Once compliance standards are set by government authorities and specialized industry groups, it is up to your business to take the steps to incorporate them into your security suite. The stated purpose of any such series of regulations is for the protection of customer data from malicious intrusions – as well as reducing accidental ones.
Compliance and Security
Compliance works in tandem with security by establishing a tiered system that is predicated on the exposure to risk. For example, with PCI DSS, the greater the risk, the greater the standards your business must meet in order to qualify for a higher level. Clearly, the more business you do, the more risk you take on – you possess more customer information that must be secured. Your company’s ability to meet the demands of safeguarding customer information is a measure of your dedication to security. Simply put, businesses that are compliant strongly tend to have the practices in place that minimize risk to their software and hardware.
The Steps to Establishing a Powerful Tandem of Compliance and Security
In order to facilitate the combination of compliance and security, there are certain best practices recommended for every company:
- Assess Your Environment: Take an accounting of your security needs, as depends on your information technology infrastructure. How you collect and store customer and employee data, for example. As your business grows, you may need to fulfill more requirements to meet compliance regulations.
- Establish Your Objectives: As an example, this entails determining the volume of payment card transactions your company does each year, as well as the projected volume. This is important for PCI DSS; it will let you know which of the four levels of compliance govern the standards you put in place. There are other compliance objectives that are industry-specific.
- Which Regulatory Compliance Standards Will You Adopt? This is an extension of the above. Once you establish all of your objectives, you can find each compliance standard that is relevant to your business. Once the adherence standards are implemented, you can be certain that your security concerns have also been minimized.
Risk management is the key to security, and regulatory compliance requirements provide companies with templates that improve this feature.
Karen Walsh graduated with a BA in Literature from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and then completed a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. In law school, she administrative law and regulatory compliance. In 2004, she started Allegro Solution where she organized the compliance programs for several community banks as a contract compliance officer. She moved into internal audit a few years later. She is an active contributing writer for Reciprocity.com.