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What is security compliance? Understanding the basics

Louis Strauss |

April 30, 2024
What is security compliance? Understanding the basics

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What is security compliance? Understanding the basics


Security compliance involves a comprehensive approach to protecting sensitive data and complying with information security laws and regulations. By meeting security requirements, organizations can effectively manage risks and vulnerabilities, prevent cyberattacks, and preserve the trust of customers, stakeholders, and regulators. In this article, we will discuss what security compliance is all about, its importance, as well as fundamental standards and regulations. We will also dive into best practices for managing security compliance through 6clicks’ Security Compliance solution.

What is security compliance?

Security compliance, or information security compliance, refers to the process of adhering to regulatory requirements, industry-specific laws, and internal security policies. While regulatory compliance entails abiding by external laws and regulations relevant to an organization’s business processes, security compliance encompasses meeting specific security frameworks, standards, and internal policies to uphold data protection and privacy.

To achieve security compliance, organizations must establish risk management processes and security measures to safeguard their data, assets, systems, and operations from potential threats and lessen the likelihood and impact of security incidents such as data breaches. An organization’s security compliance must also be validated through an external audit.

Why is security compliance important?

Ensuring security compliance guarantees the effectiveness of your governance and risk management practices. At the same time, it demonstrates your commitment to information security and improves your credibility as an organization, which are essential in gaining customer trust.

Security compliance not only strengthens your cybersecurity posture but also builds operational resilience. It enables your organization to avoid costs associated with security incidents and maintain critical functions even during disruptions, minimizing the risk of any damage to your reputation.

By prioritizing information security, fostering cyber resilience, and supporting business continuity, security compliance empowers your organization to scale revenue, outperform competitors, and achieve growth and sustainability.

Security compliance management best practices

Managing security compliance is necessary to ensure that your organization’s processes, activities, and operations align with regulatory requirements and security frameworks. Security compliance management involves putting risk management processes and procedures and security controls and policies in place to enforce, prioritize, monitor, and improve security compliance across the entire organization.

Here are some best practices to achieve effective security compliance management:

  1. Build a cybersecurity compliance program – This involves establishing cybersecurity outcomes or objectives that your organization aims to achieve, outlining the necessary steps to be taken, and defining the roles and responsibilities of key personnel who will accomplish those steps. A cybersecurity compliance program demands the collaboration of everyone in the organization, from IT, security, and compliance teams to executive leadership teams.
  2. Set up security controls – Security controls are measures that are enforced to detect, prevent, and reduce risks that threaten an organization’s data, assets, systems, or operations. A robust security compliance management program must have a mix of both security controls such as malware protection and access control, and compliance controls like incident response plans and regular audits and assessments. Automating, testing, monitoring, and reporting the effectiveness of controls is also crucial for effective security compliance management.
  3. Develop a risk management plan – Organizations need to create risk assessment processes to identify the risks relevant to their business and stakeholders, as well as vulnerabilities in their IT systems, and appropriately assess their impact and likelihood. Risk treatment plans must then be created to specify the actions that will be performed to mitigate and manage the identified risks.
  4. Cultivate a security-aware culture – This entails conducting security awareness and training programs to ensure that policies, processes, and procedures are communicated to and understood by all members of the organization.
  5. Implement compliance monitoring – As regulations frequently change, organizations must continuously evaluate the performance of security controls and address areas of non-compliance.

Information security laws and regulations

Staying compliant with information security laws and regulations requires organizations to establish security compliance management programs and compliance teams that will oversee the fulfillment of regulatory and security requirements. Here are several laws and regulations that have mandated requirements for information security:

  1. SOX – The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires public companies in the US to implement internal controls to maintain the accuracy of financial data and submit an Internal Controls Report regularly to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The law aims to protect investors from fraudulent financial reporting.
  2. GDPR – The General Data Protection Regulation by the European Union imposes strict requirements for businesses of all sizes processing the personal information of EU citizens. These include maintaining transparency in data processing activities, limiting the collection of personal data for specific purposes, and providing consumers complete control over their data.
  3. ISM – The Information Security Manual serves as a cybersecurity framework that organizations and government agencies must integrate into their risk management framework to safeguard their systems and data from cyber threats. Created by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), organizations must be trained in the ISM and certified under the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) in order to provide services to the Australian Government.
  4. PCI DSS – The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard by the PCI Security Standards Council has set technical and operational requirements for entities that process, store, and transmit cardholder data, including software developers and application providers. PCI DSS covers various cybersecurity measures such as data encryption, network security, and firewall installation.
  5. DORA – Lastly, the Digital Operational Resilience Act is an EU regulation that provides a framework for cybersecurity and operational resilience. It sets binding standards for ICT risk management, incident reporting, digital operational resilience testing, information and intelligence sharing, and ICT third-party risk monitoring that all European financial institutions and ICT service providers must fulfill.

Security compliance frameworks

To facilitate their compliance with the laws and regulations above, there are various security frameworks that organizations can utilize to guide the development of their security compliance management program. A few of these frameworks include:

  • ISO 27001 – The global standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS), ISO 27001 by the International Organization for Standardization provides requirements and security controls for building, implementing, and operating an ISMS. It focuses on cybersecurity and risk management practices such as developing an information security policy, risk assessment, and formulating a risk treatment plan. Organizations can demonstrate their capacity for enhanced information security through an ISO 27001 certification, which can only be acquired by undergoing an external audit from a certification body.

  • NIST CSF – The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework equips organizations with best practices and actionable steps in managing cybersecurity risks. It establishes 6 functions for risk management that can be tailored to fit the specific context of an organization: Govern, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover, with each function extending to categories and sub-categories that contain security controls. Compliance with NIST CSF can be measured by conducting an internal assessment. Unlike ISO 27001, it does not require an external audit or certification.

6clicks Security Compliance solution

With its AI-powered IT Risk Management and Security Compliance solutions, 6clicks can simplify multi-framework compliance, security compliance management, and risk management for organizations.

6clicks supports compliance with security frameworks such as ISO 27001 and NIST CSF and provides assessment templates to streamline compliance audits. Its policy and control management tools also allow you to define your internal controls and assign control tasks to team members.

Meanwhile, 6clicks’ AI engine Hailey can automate various compliance processes such as compliance mapping, policy gap analysis, audit and assessment cross-walking, and generating assessment responses using previous data.

You can also report, categorize, track, and assign remedial actions to security incidents using custom incident submission forms and systematic issues and incident registers within the Issues & Incident Management module.

Finally, 6clicks’ comprehensive risk registers, custom risk management workflows, and powerful risk reporting capabilities enable organizations to facilitate agile and proactive risk management.

Bolster security compliance with 6clicks

Leverage the cutting-edge capabilities of the 6clicks platform to build a robust security compliance program. Schedule a demo with one of our experts to learn more about our Security Compliance solution.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between security compliance and regulatory compliance?

Security compliance involves meeting security standards, frameworks, and internal policies to ensure information security. It focuses on safeguarding data, assets, systems, and operations from potential threats and vulnerabilities. Regulatory compliance, on the other hand, refers to adhering to external laws and regulations relevant to an organization's business processes. It encompasses fulfilling specific legal requirements and industry regulations to ensure lawful operations and data handling practices.

What are the best practices for managing security compliance?

Effective security compliance management involves building a cybersecurity compliance program, setting up security controls, developing a risk management plan, cultivating a security-aware culture, and implementing compliance monitoring. These practices ensure alignment with regulatory requirements and security frameworks, as well as continuous improvement in security compliance.

What are some examples of security controls?

Security controls are safeguards or measures that are defined by organizations to detect, avoid, and mitigate cybersecurity risks. Examples include data encryption, access control, and malware protection. Security controls are essential components of a security compliance management program.

Louis Strauss

Written by Louis Strauss

Louis is the Co-founder and Chief Product Marketing Officer (CPMO) at 6clicks, where he spearheads collaboration among product, marketing, engineering, and sales teams. With a deep-seated passion for innovation, Louis drives the development of elegant AI-powered solutions tailored to address the intricate challenges CISOs, InfoSec teams, and GRC professionals face. Beyond cyber GRC, Louis enjoys reading and spending time with his friends and family.