What is Security Compliance Management?

By Sarah Daily

Posted on Sep 15, 2021

Security compliance management is the process of monitoring and assessing systems, devices, and networks to ensure they comply with regulatory requirements, as well as industry and local cybersecurity standards.

Staying on top of compliance isn’t always easy, especially for highly regulated industries and sectors. Regulations and standards change often, as do threats and vulnerabilities. Organizations often have to respond quickly to remain in compliance. This can be difficult in organizations with large, complex infrastructures or teams that are spread out over various platforms or geographic areas, but the stakes are high.

The dangers of falling out of compliance puts you and your customers at risk of breaches, attacks, and of course, at risk of fines from regulatory agencies. For this reason, it’s important to be on top of security compliance management.

Why is security compliance important?

Compliance is critical for many reasons — trust, reputation, safety, and the integrity of your data — but it also affects a business’s bottom line. In fact, the Ponemon Institute considers noncompliance to be the top factor that amplifies the cost of a data breach.

According to Ponemon’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach report, compliance is a major factor when it comes to the cost of data breaches; organizations with many compliance failures found that their data breaches cost an average of $2.30 million more than organizations who were in compliance with regulations. The average cost of a data breach with high levels of compliance failures was $5.65 million in 2020.

Why? When companies are out of compliance, their breach costs include fines, penalties, and lawsuits. For this reason, organizations that are out of compliance in highly regulated industries — like healthcare, energy, and finance — tend to experience these additional costs long after the breach has happened, sometimes years later.

What are some best practices for security compliance?

Good security compliance is about more than avoiding fines, or even attacks.

When an organization is on top of security compliance, they’re often on top of good data management practices as well. They’re able to keep track of sensitive assets, they know if they’re keeping personal identifiable information about customers, and they often have a plan in place in case a breach does occur. Compliance makes an organization more disciplined, ingrains good cybersecurity practices into the company culture, and streamlines data management practices.

The following are some best practices to help your organization improve its security compliance management, no matter what regulations you have to comply with:

  1. Build a cybersecurity compliance plan: Compliance doesn’t happen on its own; the best way to stay compliant is to create a plan that gets your IT, security, and compliance teams on the same page. A plan should include your stakeholders, the list of standards you’re expected to comply with, and a thorough risk assessment.
  2. Make sure your teams are talking to each other: Cybersecurity compliance can be tricky because your teams are often siloed. IT or your security team is on the front line when it comes to breaches, attacks, and solutions to prevent breaches. They may, however, not be up on the finer points of compliance and regulatory standards. The same goes for your compliance team, who may know the regulations but may not understand the technology involved. Make sure they’re talking to each other, so they can keep your organization up to code.
  3. Use smart and automated tools: As your organization scales, it can be hard to manually keep track of your infrastructure – and that can affect your ability to stay in compliance. By automating tasks, you can make business processes more efficient and more consistent.
  4. Patch and update often: A patching schedule is critical; criminals know when patches are released and count on organizations to delay or miss their patching schedule. By applying patches, you'll keep your systems up to date, and boost security, performance, and compliance.
  5. Monitoring continuously: Threats are constantly evolving, and those new risks inform changes to regulations and standards, so it’s important to be aware of your infrastructure and the specific risks that affect your data and networks. This can be difficult if you’re using distributed environments across multiple platforms; you may have a hard time getting a complete picture of your environment and any risks and vulnerabilities that might be present. The more complex a system is, the more difficult it can be to monitor that system.

How can SecurityScorecard help?

SecurityScorecard continuously monitors your complete infrastructure, including your extended enterprise. Our platform is able to track both your internal and external adherence to established policies and practices — we let you capture, report, and remediate security risks in real-time, so you’re never in danger of falling out of compliance.

Compliance can be tricky, but once you can monitor your whole cybersecurity infrastructure, you’ll have visibility into your sensitive data, your risks, and your compliance that will let you pinpoint any changes that need to be made, and adhere to regulations and standards.

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