Ask any seasoned executive what’s most important, besides profits and growth, and they’ll likely tell you compliance. As such, most organizations have careful plans in place to ensure that they stay in line with all laws and regulations, particularly those surrounding information security. Unfortunately, far too many fall into the trap of thinking that if they are compliant, they are also safe from hackers. The truth is, compliance and cybersecurity are actually worlds apart and if you’re not accounting for this, your organization is more vulnerable than you think.
The regulations governing information security are designed to protect consumers from having their sensitive data fall into the wrong hands (and suffering damages as a result). The details of these laws vary from state to state and country to country, and many use terms that are open to interpretation, like “reasonable” or “appropriate.”
The main difference between compliance and cybersecurity is that the former is concerned with protecting consumers, while the latter is about keeping your network and ALL sensitive data safe from harm. For instance, compliance may dictate that you must keep a written information security plan on file and take “appropriate” measures to protect the personal information about your employees and customers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t extend much beyond this.
So, having a written plan and keeping personal information properly stored away under virtual lock and key may be enough to keep your company compliant. It won’t, however, protect that information from a hacker that is able to break through and access it. That’s where cybersecurity comes into play.
Let’s say an employee receives an email that looks legitimate, but turns out to be a ransomware scam. By opening an infected file, the employee inadvertently launches a virus that attacks and locks up your systems, demanding payment in exchange for releasing your files. Having a compliance plan in place will do absolutely nothing to protect your firm against such an attack. Furthermore, if you don’t have the right cybersecurity strategy in place, you could end up with a huge financial mess to clean up.
So, how can you stay safe on both fronts? How can you ensure that you’re compliant in the event of an audit but also maintain a strong and effective defense against cyber-attacks? In addition to the steps you’ve already taken to stay in line with your local laws and regulations, developing and implementing a solid cybersecurity strategy that includes employee education, proper backing up of all critical data, ongoing monitoring and automated incident response.
If you’re currently operating under the idea that your compliance will keep you cybersecure, then you are placing your organization at a much greater risk than you may even realize.