The Silver Lining In Your Cloud TM

Security vs Compliance for IT Infrastructure

For a lot of people, the terms security and compliance seem to be interchangeable. Companies use the two terms interchangeably all the time. However, security and compliance are two very different metrics.

Compliant Doesn’t Mean Secure

Back in 2013, U.S. retail giant Target was hit by an enormous hack. Over the course of a few weeks, tens of millions of credit cards and personally-identifying account details were stolen from Target’s servers.

A Bloomberg article released after the hack cites a quote from Target’s Chairman, President, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, wherein he states that,

“Target was certified as meeting the standard for the payment card industry (PCI) in September 2013.”

Despite spending millions on meeting the PCI compliance standard, Target suffered one of the biggest hacks to date.

So, what does compliance mean, really? One answer to this question is that compliance with a given standard simply means that you meet a given set of security and reporting requirements for that standard.

True Security Means Going Above and Beyond Compliance

If compliance is being able to say “I met the minimum requirements,” then true security is the devotion to going above and beyond to protect mission-critical data.

It isn’t enough to just have a compliance needs checkbox to fill out if you want a truly secure solution. Once again, going back to the example of Target, in 2013, they had a compliant solution for card security, and it even worked, kind of.

As noted in the aforementioned Bloomberg article, “six months earlier the company began installing a $1.6 million malware detection tool made by the computer security firm FireEye” and a “team of security specialists in Bangalore to monitor its computers around the clock.” When the hackers set up their malware to extract the credit card information and move it to compromised servers for extraction at a later date, “FireEye spotted them. Bangalore got an alert and flagged the security team in Minneapolis. And then… Nothing happened.”

Every compliance measure the company put into place was rendered useless because the alert was missed by the security team that was supposed to be watching for it.

This is one reason why goes above and beyond simple threat monitoring. WHOA’s partnerships with industry-leading security companies such as Palo Alto Networks allows WHOA to get live updates about up and coming security threats. By creating updates with security rules to automatically detect and eliminate these threats, WHOA is able to counteract them without having to wait for manual intervention.

Safeguarding Against Threats

Since meeting basic compliance requirements doesn’t cover all of your security needs, it’s important to create a multilayered approach to security that can catch and respond to threats from any source, internal or external.

Here, following a compliance blueprint isn’t enough. To create a truly secure infrastructure, you’ll have to:

  • Question Your Infrastructure Provider. Whether your company has an internal IT infrastructure or uses a cloud infrastructure, take the time to rigorously investigate the quality of the infrastructure’s security. For cloud infrastructures, this means asking the cloud service provider a lot of questions about common threats and how they deal with them.
  • Use Multiple Layers of Security. No single layer of security will effectively control all IT threats in the modern world. Using an infrastructure that has multiple layers of security to keep your environment and data isolated greatly reduces your risk of a data breach. It’s best if the infrastructure is built from the ground up to incorporate these security layers rather than trying to add them on later. WHOA builds every cloud environment with security in mind, providing as standard protections that others treat as added cost services.
  • Take a Watchdog Attitude to Threats. One of the reasons why the Target breach was so large was that the early warning systems that could have helped prevent the actual data leak weren’t heeded. To create a secure system requires a watchdog approach to threat monitoring. Threats, once identified, need to be dealt with quickly and efficiently.’s proactive threat remediation helps ensure top-notch safety and security for your data.

Ultimately, ensuring true security for your company’s most sensitive data means going well above and beyond the minimum requirements of any compliance standard. Creating a truly secure infrastructure can not only help make meeting compliance standards easier, it can help you save time and money while building your business’ brand.