Cybersecurity vs compliance – do you know how they differ?

Cybersecurity and compliance are terms that are often used interchangeably. You can see why. Both are all about helping you manage your organisation’s digital security.

But – and this is a big but – each has a very different motivation, focus, and methods attached to it:

Compliance is driven by business needs. It’s often designed with external actors in mind. Actors such as regulatory bodies, your customers, or potential partners or investors.

Cybersecurity, on the other hand, is primarily driven by technological needs. An internal desire to protect your business’s sensitive data.

If you want to protect your organisation’s assets while simultaneously showing you follow trusted guidelines, understanding the complementary nature of – but also the differences between – cybersecurity and compliance is the place to start:

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity – or IT security – is the protection put in place to protect your computer systems, networks, and devices from unauthorised access or attack by malicious actors.

These protections are often technological. They include things like:

  • Firewalls and antivirus software
  • Multi-factor Authentication (like one-time passcodes sent to your phone or email)
  • Effective device management and configurations
  • Comprehensive data security policies
  • Team cybersecurity training

Without adequate cybersecurity, anyone could access your business systems, get into your bank accounts, or steal your customer data and do whatever they like with it.

In the modern world, taking a sensible, proactive approach to cybersecurity is something every organisation needs to do.

What is compliance?

Compliance is all about conforming to rules and regulations. These are frameworks set by third parties as an indication of what “good cybersecurity” (the technical stuff above) looks like.

For cybersecurity, examples would include the ISO 27001 International Standard or the UK government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme. They include things like:

  • Making sure your cybersecurity meets the requirements of a particular regulatory framework
  • Implementing policies, processes, and controls across your business
  • Offering proof or evidence that you are meeting the set standards
  • Sometimes having an audit of your system completed to prove you are
  • Being able to prominently display that compliance in your marketing

You may want to be compliant with a certain IT security standard because you are operating in a region or industry where meeting certain regulations is mandatory. Not being compliant risks fines and other penalties.

Another major reason is to demonstrate to clients and partners that your approach to cybersecurity is mature and trustworthy.

For instance, the UK government only makes contracts with firms that are Cyber Essentials-compliant. The same is increasingly true of major organisations and investors in every sector of the economy worldwide.

Cybersecurity vs compliance – differences and similarities

If you’re interested in the differences between cybersecurity and compliance, protecting your business against digital threats is probably important to you (as it should be for any organisation that holds or processes data).

That’s why it’s important to know that, for all their similar goals, the scope and focus of these two vital activities diverge widely:

  • Cybersecurity includes a range of technical and technological protections that protect your organisation against cybercrime.
  • Compliance includes a variety of activities designed to meet requirements set by third parties, including showing evidence that you are in compliance with them.

Compliance and cybersecurity – aim for both

Arguably, a business trying to protect itself digitally needs to focus on both cybersecurity and compliance.

For instance, it is possible to be compliant with a regulatory framework but not have the best cybersecurity for you. Ideally, you want a comprehensive approach based around your business’s unique needs, challenges, and industry.

That said, being compliant with certain regulatory frameworks (such as Cyber Essentials) can be a great basis for sensible digital or IT security.

It’s also great to have solid cybersecurity protection. But you miss out on a huge amount of the value of doing so if you don’t have a clear way to demonstrate your commitment. Compliance provides this.

In short, a smart, growing business that wants to protect itself against digital threats would be wise to focus on both cybersecurity and compliance. Working together, they provide a great way to protect your business both now and in the future.

Want to discuss how to balance the needs of your business’s cybersecurity and compliance?

Let’s chat. Dial A Geek has already helped over 1000 businesses in Bristol and beyond protect themselves and grow.

Talk through your specific needs with Chief Geek Gildas Jones today with zero cost and commitment.