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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Nebster

Cybersecurity: Does "Compliance" Stand For "Readiness"?

In this Article:

Choosing Between Compliance and Readiness in Cybersecurity


Cybersecurity is a sophisticated field that proactively safeguards internet-connected systems, including software and hardware infrastructure. Its primary goal is to eliminate any existing or potential weaknesses that could harm companies, customers, and other essential parties involved. Sometimes, businesses view their commitment to industry-standard controls as burdensome, bringing challenges and financial costs. However, despite the initial overwhelm, embracing a culture of compliance enhances an organization's credibility and integrity. Further, we will break down cybersecurity compliance and its need for companies.

Cybersecurity & Compliance

Source: SAP

Why do companies strive for compliance with data protection acts?

When businesses align their security practices according to established standards, IT professionals, compliance officers, and the overarching regulatory bodies responsible for overseeing cybersecurity standards greatly benefit. This alignment helps prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary complexities from arising when companies operate with different interpretations. Moreover, having aligned procedures and a cybersecurity framework serves as a preventive measure against consumer risks. They no longer need to extensively research the security standards of every company as long as their data is adequately protected in line with user expectations. Implementing unified policies also simplifies and optimizes B2B and B2C transactions.

Implementing robust practices that comply with regulatory requirements is highly recommended to avoid facing regulatory penalties resulting from data breaches. The breaches can lead to the exposure of customers' data, regardless of whether they stem from internal or external sources, ultimately becoming public knowledge.

Why is compliance crucial for businesses and cybersecurity?

Strengthening the company's cybersecurity is crucial to mitigate risks and protect sensitive data. Compliance standards set a common objective of reducing cybersecurity threats. They require businesses to adopt top-notch cybersecurity measures such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and access controls.

Safeguarding sensitive data is of utmost importance for organizations that handle substantial volumes of confidential information like customer details, financial records, and trade secrets. If cybercriminals access such data, they can exploit it for identity theft and financial fraud.

Failing to comply with cybersecurity regulations can have serious repercussions, including substantial fines and legal actions. To illustrate, companies that fall short of meeting the PCI DSS regulations can face fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per month. These penalties are just the tip of the iceberg, as they don't even encompass compensatory damages, identity theft insurance, and reimbursement of service fees for customers whose data has been compromised.

Consequences of cybersecurity compliance and non-compliance

Are the certifications a sign of 100% proven data security?

An array of certifications is available in the cybersecurity realm, including ISO 27001 and mandatory compliance standards like PSI DSS. However, when considering the bigger picture, it becomes evident that certification, while important, doesn't always align seamlessly with compliance and security requirements. The level of alignment often depends on the stage of a company's journey. In many instances, achieving compliance becomes a mere box-ticking exercise to satisfy auditors or gain a competitive edge in deals.

Nonetheless, efforts are underway to bridge this divide, driven by regulatory mandates and the increasingly severe consequences companies face in the aftermath of data breaches and theft. Initiatives such as GDPR in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act in the US have laid the groundwork for heightened regulations. Additional mandates like DORA are emerging, placing pressure on organizations across various industries to ensure their compliance efforts translate into practical security implementations. This dynamic presents an opportune moment for companies like Smarttech to demonstrate that their tools deliver a tangible return on investment for their clients.

However, it's important to note that startups may encounter distinct challenges navigating these evolving regulatory frameworks. With regulations changing rapidly, the landscape is set to become even more intriguing over the next 24 months, raising intriguing questions about potential exposure for startups in this dynamic environment.

What do businesses focus on to ensure data security: compliance or actual actions?

There is a need to distinguish between compliance and actual security when building a robust security program. Merely being compliant with regulations does not necessarily guarantee comprehensive security. It is essential to understand that compliance involves following specific laws and ticking off checkboxes, but it may not fully address those laws' underlying purpose and intent.

Consider the example of Get Visibility, where a good security program was built, but the focus was not placed on demonstrating it and obtaining certification. It is relatively easy to transition from having a well-built security program to showcasing and proving its effectiveness. However, attempting to demonstrate something that has not been properly established is far more complex. Moreover, the circumstances of each startup may vary significantly.

For cybersecurity startups, prioritizing good security practices is crucial. While other aspects may take precedence in different industries, it is essential for everyone, especially those involved in startup growth, to understand that the security program itself holds significant importance. Demonstrating the program is a separate layer that builds upon the foundation of strong security practices.


Cybersecurity requires a balance between compliance and real security actions. While compliance is essential, it doesn't guarantee comprehensive security. Businesses must prioritize sound security practices, align with industry standards, and adapt to multiple regulations to protect sensitive data effectively. Striking this balance ensures a robust cybersecurity posture and safeguards valuable data assets.


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