Compensation vs Correction: Understanding Cybersecurity Controls


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I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of a data breach or cyber attack. It can leave individuals and businesses feeling violated, exposed, and vulnerable. That’s why it’s critical to have the proper cybersecurity controls in place to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.

One of the key decisions that organizations must make when it comes to cybersecurity controls is whether to focus on compensation or correction strategies. Compensation strategies aim to minimize the impact of an incident once it has already occurred, while correction strategies aim to prevent incidents from happening altogether.

While both compensation and correction strategies have their benefits, it’s important to understand the differences between the two, and why a correction-based approach is often a better long-term solution in the fight against cyber threats. In this article, we will delve into the nuances of compensation and correction strategies, and explore why prevention should always be the priority when it comes to cybersecurity.

What is the difference between compensating and corrective controls?

In the realm of cybersecurity, compensating and corrective controls play important roles in minimizing risk and protecting sensitive data. Although both can be effective measures in mitigating damage or preventing an incident, there are differences in their applications.

  • Corrective controls are reactive measures used after an incident has occurred. They are designed to reduce the negative impact of an event and restore systems to their normal functioning state. Examples of corrective controls include data backups, system restoration processes, and incident response plans.
  • Compensating controls, on the other hand, are alternative measures implemented when a primary control is not feasible or fails to adequately address a security concern. These controls are often used in situations where implementing a primary control is expensive or impractical. Examples of compensating controls include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access control measures.

    Ultimately, both compensating and corrective controls should be considered in the overall security strategy of an organization. While corrective controls can help address the immediate aftermath of an incident, compensating controls can help minimize the risk of future incidents and protect valuable data. It’s critical to conduct regular risk assessments and invest in comprehensive security solutions to stay ahead of potential threats.

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    1. Identify the Need: The first step towards implementing compensating or corrective controls is to determine the areas of your organization that require protection and the threats that can potentially impact them. This analysis will help you choose the type of control that is best suited for your needs.

    2. Prioritize Security Measures: Once you have identified the threats and risks, prioritize the security measures that you need to implement based on the risks involved. This will help ensure that your chosen controls can effectively mitigate the risks and provide the maximum protection.

    3. Implement Effective Controls: Corrective controls are essential for mitigating risk once an issue has occurred, while compensating controls aim at reducing the risk before the attack takes place. Ensure that the controls you implement are effective in their respective areas.

    4. Monitor and Test: It is important to regularly monitor and test your controls to make sure they are functioning as expected. This can help identify any issues or gaps in the system and improve your overall security posture.

    5. Continuously Improve: The threat landscape is constantly evolving, so it’s critical to continuously improve your security controls to meet these new challenges effectively. Regular measurement and assessment of your security systems will help to stay ahead of emerging threats and meet the changing security requirements of your organization.

    Control Types in Cybersecurity

    In today’s technological era, cybersecurity has become a significant concern for individuals and organizations as they are at a higher risk of falling prey to various cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is an approach to protect devices, networks, and sensitive information from unauthorized access, theft, damage, or any other cyber threats. Cybersecurity can be achieved through different types of controls such as corrective, deterrent, compensating, or preventive controls.

    Understanding Corrective Controls

    Corrective controls are security mechanisms designed to reduce the negative impact of an event that has already occurred. These types of controls are reactive and respond to cyber threats that have breached the security lines. Corrective controls are only activated after an event has been detected, such as a virus infection or a cyber attack on the system. The purpose of these controls is to limit the damage that has already occurred and to restore the system’s normal operations.

    Significance of Corrective Controls in Cybersecurity

    Corrective controls play a crucial role in cybersecurity because they help reduce the consequences of an event that has already taken place. Corrective controls also help restore the system’s normal operations and prevent further damage. They provide incident response teams with a set of procedures and actions to take once a potential threat has been identified. Implementing corrective controls is a critical aspect of any cybersecurity strategy, as it helps organizations recover from cyber attacks faster and more effectively.

    Key Features of Deterrent Controls

    Deterrent controls are designed to prevent potential attackers from carrying out an attack. They achieve this by establishing visible security measures such as locks, alarms, and surveillance cameras that can deter any potential attacker from attempting to breach the premises. Deterrent controls create a psychological barrier and discourage attackers from carrying out an attack, as the risk of being caught is relatively high.

    Understanding Compensating Controls

    Compensating controls are security measures that are deployed as substitute measures for those that are not feasible or cannot be implemented. Compensating controls are used when a primary control is either disabled or not practical to implement. This type of control can be used to manage and reduce residual risk, which is the risk that remains even after preventive controls have been deployed.

    The Role of Compensating Controls in Cybersecurity

    Compensating controls provide an organization with an alternative security measure to compensate for the lack of a primary control. For instance, if encryption of data in transit is not feasible to implement, the organization can compensate by implementing compensating controls like using secure data transmission protocols. Compensating controls help manage residual risks, prioritize security measures, and ensure that critical assets are protected from potential cyber threats.

    When to Implement Compensating Controls

    Organizations should only implement compensating controls when other alternative controls are not practical or cannot be implemented. The decision to implement compensating controls should be made carefully after thorough risk analysis and understanding of the potential impact of the control on the system. Compensating controls should not be seen as a replacement for primary security controls, but rather as a supplement to the primary controls.

    Pros and Cons of Compensating Controls in Cybersecurity


    • Compensating controls can help manage residual risks
    • They fill gaps in security measures
    • They can be a temporary solution until primary security controls are implemented
    • They ensure that critical assets are protected from potential cyber threats


    • The cost of implementing compensating controls may be high
    • They may not be as effective as primary security controls
    • They may create more work for IT personnel
    • They do not eliminate the root cause of the security vulnerabilities

    In conclusion, cybersecurity requires a combination of preventive, corrective, deterrent, and compensating controls to ensure the safety and security of sensitive information and critical assets. Corrective controls are designed to reduce the impact of an attack after it occurs, deterrent controls are used to discourage potential attackers from carrying out an attack, and compensating controls are used as a substitute for primary security controls when they are not feasible or practical to implement. Implementing compensating controls requires careful analysis and understanding of potential risks and impacts. It is also crucial to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of compensating controls to ensure that they are providing adequate security measures.