Companies are all-too-familiar with the necessities that go into making a business IT compliant. Yet what many businesses don’t realize is that IT security and IT compliance are two entirely different things. To fulfill all of your business’s needs, finding the balance between compliance and security is essential. We will look at what each one means and how they can help you protect your company from an attack.

What Are the Differences?

The critical thing about security vs. compliance is they’re two different concepts that don’t always overlap: one helps keep out attackers while another ensures operational requirements are met.


IT Security is the term used to describe the various strategies and procedures that are in place to protect against cyberattacks. These measures include things like firewalls, antivirus software, cybersecurity training, and other tools that individual businesses implement for the company’s personal safety.

The average cost of a data breach has been rising steadily since 2000; the 2020 estimate is $3.8 million. This number will continue to grow as companies become more digitally connected via cloud computing systems that have not yet reached their full potential in terms of security measures.


Compliance is a set of standards for how your company handles data or other aspects of business operations, such as reporting on financials or maintaining a safe workplace. Compliance is measured by a separate entity, making it the business’s responsibility to adhere to those regulations. There are multiple sources for these regulations and policies, such as: 

  • State Regulations: These are state-specific laws that businesses operating in that region must adhere to. Notable laws in California are the California Security Breach Information Act (SB1386) and the  California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
  • Federal Regulations: These involve regulations that all businesses operating within the United States must be compliant with. Some of these include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
  • International Regulations: There are international data security laws, as well, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (EU GDPR).

Contractual terms are also a type of compliance. These include things like your SLA (Service-Level Agreement) with customers or terms required by vendors to complete transactions.

Why Is Compliance Necessary?

Compliance is necessary since it demonstrates that your company is doing its due diligence to protect the data and operations of the business. In essence, businesses that are in compliance with certain standards and regulations receive a stamp of approval for other businesses from a prominent third party.

Data breaches can have devastating consequences for individuals and businesses alike; organizations must find ways to balance their obligations towards both parties while also preventing fraud or theft by outsiders like hackers.

HIPAA compliance is an excellent example of this since it ensures that any company in the healthcare industry has taken steps to protect their clients’ data. For HIPAA compliance to be achieved, have a policy on how and when individuals are allowed access to sensitive information and who will handle such requests.

The Difference Between IT Security and IT Compliance

The main differences are what IT Security and IT Compliance include:

  • Compliance satisfies requirements made by third parties
  • Security satisfies the unique technological needs of individual businesses
  • Security is driven by the need to protect company information from outside and inside attacks via hackers or malware
  • Compliance is driven by the need to maintain specific regulations in order for business operations to continue

Security and Compliance Go Hand-In-Hand

Security and compliance are complementary disciplines. Security is a critical component of organizational compliance, but not the only one. Compliance can be an IT function if you’re in finance or healthcare, where data privacy is imperative. In today’s world of constantly evolving technology, these two ideas are more intertwined than ever.

If your business is growing and you’re looking to mitigate the risk of data breaches and regulatory fines, check out cybersecurity experts like Innovative Network Solutions. With our extensive experience with cybersecurity services, we can tailor a solution to make sure your business is fully compliant and secure. Contact us today for a free consultation so that your business can be the best mix of compliant and secure.