SMS Security vs. SMS Compliance

Arrows and question mark on square blocks, meant to illustrate SMS security

SMS security and SMS compliance are often confused with one another. When it comes to protecting data, we want to be crystal clear. Let’s explore the differences between the two terms. 

What Is SMS Security?

It’s important to have a clear understanding of SMS security before we compare it to SMS compliance. First, we’ll define SMS security, and how it affects business text messaging.

Defining SMS Security

SMS—or text messaging—security is the state of your customer data being free from threats. SMS customer data includes contact information and the customer messages themselves. 

Where Secure Texting Starts

No matter what tools your business uses, texts are inherently insecure once they reach consumers’ hands. Anyone can read a person’s texts if they have access to their phone, and it’s possible to intercept text messages when they’re sent and received from a mobile phone. To establish secure text messaging, businesses only have control over when texts are traveling through their business texting services. 

Business Text Messaging Security

To ensure secure texts when they’re within your services and control, choose a business text messaging platform that protects data at rest (when it’s in storage) and in transit (as it travels through your services to customers’ phones). It should also provide role-based access control, so you can choose who accesses your customer data. On your end, you should carefully allocate roles and permissions. Make sure only trusted employees handle customer data, and that your IT system (like your office WiFi) is secure.

Exploring the Importance of Secure SMS

Best-in-class business SMS platforms and their customers prioritize security. There’s nothing more important than keeping customers’ personal information safe. Customers can lose valuable information due to a security breach. Afterwards, they will likely lose trust in your brand. 

What Is SMS Compliance?

Let’s define SMS compliance before comparing the two terms. You’ll start to notice differences already. 

Find more detailed information about SMS compliance with opt-ins and opt-outs in our guide.

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Defining SMS Compliance

SMS compliance is the state of following national or local regulations, or professional guidelines. Common regulations and guidelines include the TCPA, SOC 2, and HIPAA. These standards affect almost everyone using business SMS. 

Achieving SMS Compliance

Achieving SMS compliance simply means adhering to the requirements set by the standard in question. For example, to achieve SMS compliance with the TCPA, you need to ensure customers are opted in to your SMS services before you text them. To achieve SMS compliance with SOC 2, you need to subject yourself to a SOC 2 review by a third-party provider. To achieve SMS compliance with HIPAA, you need to develop and implement a series of privacy policies and practices. They should help you ensure you don’t share electronic protected health information (ePHI), and that you anonymize any health-related data you intend to use for analytics purposes.

Exploring the Importance of SMS Compliance

Achieving SMS compliance with legal regulations that apply to your brand, like the TCPA, is a must-have. You can face fines if you aren’t compliant. Achieving SMS compliance with professional guidelines, like SOC 2, isn’t required by law. However, a SOC 2 compliance report does tell customers that your business has well-defined, monitored, and audited data security measures and processes. You may even consider achieving HIPAA-compliance if you aren’t in healthcare; that can show your business’s dedication to SMS security. 

How Do SMS Security and SMS Compliance Differ?

Ultimately, SMS compliance isn’t SMS security. You can be compliant with all the standards out there, but still not achieve optimal security.

However, SMS compliance can help you achieve secure text messaging. For example, HIPAA compliance requires you to refrain from texting patients with sensitive information. You can only text with administrative details or links to a secure health portal. In this case, SMS compliance helps protect patients’ sensitive data, improving your security over all. 

On the other hand, having strong security doesn’t mean you meet SMS compliance with all standards. For example, you may handle business SMS with care and store it well. But if you don’t ask customers to specifically provide written permission before you text them, you aren’t compliant with the TCPA. In this case, SMS security doesn’t mean SMS compliance.  

To learn more about complying with key business SMS regulations, read our Text Messaging Compliance Guide:

Ebook cover for Text Messaging Compliance Guide: Understanding Key Regulations and Opt-In

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