What Separates IT Security and IT Compliance?

How are you using IT for your business?

When it comes to the technologies businesses use, many owners and managers don’t know what’s secure or compliant.

The good news is that there are no clear lines between security and compliance. They often work hand-in-hand. But specialists can tell you where they do diverge – and how to make sure your business is on the right side of each.

Let’s start with definitions:

IT security is the practice of protecting electronic information by mitigating information risks and vulnerabilities. It includes practices like data encryption, access control, and authentication.

IT compliance, on the other hand, is a set of measures designed to ensure that technology is used in a way that meets specific requirements, such as policies and laws.

In other words, IT security is the practice of protecting your company’s data by making sure it stays safe from outside threats. IT compliance is the process of legally proving – to regulators or internal auditors – that you’re using technology responsibly.

The two aren’t completely independent, though. They often work together to enhance your bottom line and ensure the overall health of your business.

“IT security is a subset of IT compliance,” says Leila Bustani, an information systems auditor in Cleveland with more than 20 years of experience. She’s also a member of ISACA , a global association of professionals who specialize in IT governance, risk management, and compliance.

“IT security is all about mitigating the risks of data loss or data breaches,” Bustani says. “IT compliance is about making sure your technology use is legal and adheres to certain regulations.”

But that’s not to say the two are inseparable. In fact, knowing the difference can help you make more informed decisions about your business’s IT needs.

Both IT security and IT compliance require proper planning to ensure they don’t conflict with each other. For instance, if you encrypt all of your company’s data – a common practice in IT security – it makes it extremely difficult for you to show that you’re being IT compliant.

“Many security measures are in direct violation of compliance,” Bustani says. “That’s why it’s so important for businesses to have a good grasp of what both practices encompass.”

So how do you get started? A quick review can help you understand each one – and identify ways they work together.

To start with IT security, you need to identify your company’s information assets and map out how they’re used. Once you understand the data’s value and where it resides, you can put in place the appropriate security measures to protect it.

This might include tools like firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and anti-virus software – all of which are designed to safeguard against outside threats. It may also include business continuity plans that detail how employees will respond in the event of a cyber attack, data breach, or natural disaster.

An IT company can help you put all of these measures in place.

In addition to IT security, you also need to be aware of your company’s IT compliance requirements. This can vary depending on your industry and the specific regulations that apply to you. But it often includes requirements like data encryption, passwords, and acceptable use policies.

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