It’s a serious mistake—and one that too many people make all too often: assuming that your business is secure simply because you’re compliant with all current standards and legislation. Compliance simply isn’t enough to guarantee that your business is as secure as it could possibly be.
A Good First Step
Compliance is the starting point of security for many companies. For example, businesses that want to accept credit card payments will need to ensure they’re compliant with the PCI standards. Standards exist within industries to ensure businesses adhere to some minimum level of security in order to give clients, consumers, and other businesses peace of mind.
But while compliance is a good first step, it is just that: a first step. It is not the end of your business’s security journey.
The Problem with Compliance
Problems arise when ensuring adherence to various standards and legislations is the only step that businesses take to secure their operations. Most standards and laws contain only minimum requirements. They do not guarantee that you’re doing the most you can possibly do to be secure. While being compliant is better than having no security at all, the bare-bones requirements are often so minimal that they do very little to guarantee security. Take, for example, standards that require only annual scanning of systems. There are plenty of risks that will arise between scans—which means your business could be blindsided by a threat that comes up between scans.
Once your business is compliant with the standards and legislation governing your industry and operations, it may seem like you don’t need to do much more to guarantee your security. After all, no one is asking you to do any more, so becoming compliant should be enough.
This is where many people make the fatal mistake: simply equating compliance with security. For your business to truly be secure, you need to go a step beyond. You must do more, even if a governing body isn’t asking you to. It may not seem cost-effective or efficient, but taking the extra step to ensure your business’s security is vital to your own operations.
What Should You Do?
Taking the extra step beyond compliance can seem like an enormous leap. After all, standards tend to set out measurable steps and finite guidelines for what you need to do. After you’ve become compliant, however, there’s much less in the way of guidelines; after all, if you only need to scan your systems once per year, no one is going to check if you’re going above that duty and scanning on a monthly basis.
Security can take many different forms once you’ve moved beyond simple compliance. You might opt to scan your systems more frequently; some businesses will do vulnerability scans once a month, or even more often. Other businesses will employ vulnerability management software to help them stay on top of potential risks. One of the best steps you can take is to adopt a risk-based approach to vulnerability management, which allows you to rationalize your IT security operations. Some standards will even outline additional or optional steps a business can take to ensure their security.
You need to move beyond simple compliance for your own peace of mind, so the methods you use to ensure your business is secure are largely up to you. Although the initial costs of engaging in additional scans or adopting vulnerability management software may seem daunting, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Mitigating risks, both known and unknown, now and in the future, is imperative for any business owner.