Many organizations must comply with regulations such as HIPAA, and the numbers are growing, fueled by constantly evolving legislation that creates new rules, requirements and auditing procedures. Compliance requirements are often seen as an unnecessary burden that was legislated into existence to protect external entities. However, properly enforced compliance policies can protect organizations from a myriad of problems – ranging from security breaches to lawsuits to corporate espionage.

Compliance has a symbiotic relationship with the procedures and requirements dictated by computer security. Compliance, like security, is all about managing risk. The risk associated with compliance failures can include financial impact (fines), data loss (intrusions), lost business (customer impacts) or even a suspension of operations. While it is easy to see how security and compliance go hand in hand with risk management, the realization does not ease any burdens. Unifying risk management, security management and risk management can lead to an economy of scale, creating efficiencies that do lessen the burdens imposed, both in time and budgets.

Unified security management tools that offer integration and management modules can often combine risk management, compliance initiatives and security controls into a single managed element, converting compliance to little more than an extension of policy-based security enforcement. With the proper tool set, compliance management and risk management can become natural extensions of security management, offering managers a clear path to establishing compliance, protecting data and enforcing policy. That holistic approach will reduce costs, while enhancing the benefits of all three.