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“I hate being audited. I love having been audited.”

As your organization’s information security leader, you will likely need to go through an audit to prove your organization is compliant with industry regulations like SOC2, PCI, and HIPAA. Cybersecurity regulations require your organization to take actions designed to ensure your security practices keep valuable data safe. Although that mission may feel similar to the goal of your security program, the two approaches to security have some key differences. In reality, both approaches are essential to telling a strong security story that wins the trust of clients, customers, and stakeholders. Still, there are distinctions between being in compliance and running a holistic security program.

Passing compliance audits versus running a security program; what’s the difference?

1) Motive: Same boxes, different reasons to check them.

Both your security program and industry regulations may require your organization to comply with specific guidelines, but the motives are different. You build your security program and its guidelines because you care to protect your and your customers’ valuable data. At the same time, it may also be necessary for your business to operate in compliance with certain laws and regulations, depending on the kind of data you possess. Industry regulations, such as HIPAA or PCI, exist to protect a specific third-party interest, like medical patient privacy or consumer payment protection.

Compliance regulations don’t exist to protect your unique business. They are a one-size-fits-all framework that all businesses handling specific types of data must adhere to across industries. Your security program defends your unique organization and its valuable assets. The interest in these data sets may overlap, but the reason for looking is different.

2) Scope: Regulations focus on a subset of your valuable data.

Industry regulations govern specific types of sensitive data. Your organization has additional valuable assets beyond the scope of these specific security regulations. It is important to defend all of the valuable data your organization handles beyond just auditable data.

Use an appropriate amount of your resources to keep your organization compliant and prepare for efficient audits, but keep that investment strategically balanced across all of your valuable data. Be careful not to overinvest in audit-related initiatives, leaving valuable data outside the scope of industry regulation at risk.

3): Control: Your security program moves at your pace.

Today’s threat landscape evolves quickly. Your organization needs a nimble defense that can quickly adapt to changing threats and technologies. The broad application of regulations makes change slow and unpredictable. Relying solely on following regulation guidelines to protect your data puts too much faith in the audit framework and how up-to-date it is.

Agencies outside your organization control regulations; however, you control your organization’s security program. If a better solution to protect your business is available, you have the power to reinforce your security program and protect all of your organization’s unique assets.

Address compliance, but also explore additional defenses that are right-sized for your organization.

Even in a hypothetical world without regulations, your security program needs to keep your and your customers’ data safe. An audit is simply a spot check that proves your security program is doing the minimum, like a health score at a restaurant.

You can prepare for efficient and successful audits while also holistically protecting all of your valuable assets. Use regulations as a baseline, then add additional layers of defense around your valuable assets based on what you’re protecting and what the threat landscape looks like.

Are you thinking beyond compliance and using your cybersecurity resources effectively?

ZeroWall’s tools can help you assess your information security profile and decide the best way to allocate your efforts.

Taking the ZeroWall Assessment™ is the fastest way to grow a holistic security program.

ZeroWall’s Threat Model Engine works its magic and delivers you an Insights Report that outlines:

  • The gaps in your security program
  • How your current investments are addressing risks
  • How you compare to similarly-sized organizations in your industry
  • Right-sized recommendations catered to your unique organization

Get the information you need to confidently build your organization’s right-sized program. Get started >

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