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November 11, 2020

Does Compliance mean Data Security?

With the introduction of compliance regulations like the GDPR (EU) and newer laws like the CCPA (California) and the LGPD (Brazil) coming about, compliance is something that no organization can take for granted. The certificate tells you that your security is up to the mark. But does compliance mean security? Is achieving compliance enough? To better answer these questions, let’s understand the terminology first.


Security involves protecting data from corruption and unauthorized access throughout its life cycle. Data security methods such as discovery, masking, tokenization, encryption, and minimization are vital techniques used to secure data across applications and platforms. Organizations around the globe are investing in technology-enabled data security methods in an attempt to protect their data within and outside their enterprise from malicious offenders.


Compliance is a necessity for any organization to operate. It’s not only legally necessary but also beneficial in terms of competitive advantage, marketing advantage, and building customer confidence.

Are they the same?

No. Security and compliance are distinct terms, playing separate roles. When implemented correctly, data security techniques protect your data across your enterprise and geographies. On the other hand, compliance ensures that your security holds up against specific security requirements at a given point in time.

Is compliance enough?

The answer, again, is no. To further explain:

Firstly, compliance ensures a functional, active security strategy that is needed for data protection, although advanced security goes beyond compliance. For example, each standard and law such as HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, and CCPA are limited to a defined area and aim to secure that particular information, and there are areas outside of the law that isn’t covered. Ergo, compliance is only part of the security strategy and not the whole. It doesn’t take into account the intricacies of an organization — it’s specific infrastructure, processes, and unique environments. Of course, regulations are updated over time, but not at the pace at which companies, technologies, and threats are evolving. Hence, organizations need to fill these security gaps outside of a set of compliance requirements to make sure they can anticipate and safeguard themselves against threats that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible if they had only paid attention to fulfilling compliance standards rather than looking at security comprehensively.

Secondly, organizations may tend to get complacent once they achieve compliance. It can aid a misleading idea of security. Yes, you have the certificate for validation, but don’t let it interrupt all other security actions. You need to discover, monitor, and mitigate risks continuously; this should go hand in hand with educating your employees regarding security as well. Making sure you remain compliant is not enough — that’s only the first layer; a multi-pronged approach to security is more suited to take into consideration all the gaps that may leave you open to risks.

Therefore, it’s imperative to recognize that compliance doesn’t mean security. Surely there are connections between them both, but compliance does not necessarily guarantee complete security. Organizations must do both if they want to succeed in a dynamic marketplace.