The Road To Continuous Compliance

Quality check

You have to continuously comply with industry standards to attain absolute governance of security controls. Compliance, therefore, must not be an act of a single moment. Today, numerous technologies enable companies to continuously check security needs without relying on the annual audits.

What is continuous compliance?

When reviewing the data environment and its controls, continuous compliance requires a deliberate and efficient strategy in your organization. Scheduled audits often characterized traditional compliance. Continuous compliance is the active gathering of data control insights every single minute of the hour, 24/7.

Why you need for continuous compliance

There is a super-fast evolution of risks to your IT environment. Any risk assessment procedure should focus on measures that protect information at any time of day or night. Sadly, you have to keep up with the speed of malicious efforts to make your data vulnerable. As threats emerge every day to compromise your IT environment, continuous compliance is absolutely important.

6 steps to continuous compliance

Step 1: Have the right personnel

To construct a foolproof compliance program, you have to set up a culture that upholds the integrity of information. Your IT personnel and anyone who uses, stores or processes data must have high integrity. This cuts across senior management to entry level employees.

As you hire, your company must insist on the significance of compliance. While most employees comprehend the need for information security, very few actually enforce follow-up measures throughout. Let continuous compliance exist from their first day at the company up until their last.

Step 2: Set aside critical assets

Compliance to cybersecurity protocols depends on how well you identify critical assets of data storage and processing. The onset of cloud computing over the years has altered how we store information. Critical assets must, therefore, be physical as well as virtual.

A great example of PCI compliance is the need for retailers to understand where their POS systems are positioned. Additionally, they need to comprehend how these point of sale systems transmit or process data.

Companies employing hybrid cloud solutions have more work to do. They must identify third party assets in addition to physical, private and public ones. Each location of AWS hybrid cloud must have guaranteed security in line with the needs of continuous compliance.

Step 3: Create & implement controls

You will know where your information exists when you conduct careful asset identification. Next, it is time to protect these assets. Companies are increasingly adopting Zero Trust models of compliance that deems data to be always at risk. It secures the environments from the inside out.

Security frameworks such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, ISO, and COSO are among leading protocols. However, implementing them is increasingly difficult. Encryptions and firewalls could inject more specific differences in protection.

Step 4: Establish continuous measures of the information environment

Continuous compliance requires the continuous monitoring of threats to the entire ecosystem. Note that hackers have upped their game lately, and are now using multiple attack approaches to compromise your information.

The assumption that your existing controls will enable compliance is modern-day data misconception. Instead of thinking about ‘if’ threats will occur, it is increasingly better for data security personnel to think “when’ it will. Simply put, be always prepared to respond rapidly to diminish intrusions.

Step 5: Keep documentation

You have to outline documentation of the efforts of compliance in order to prove to authorities that your data controls actually work. Start mapping out all compliance protocols and update the documentation regularly. The following are examples of an administration that shows continuous compliance.

  • System logs
  • Software configurations
  • Security procedures, policies, and protocols
  • Vendor questionnaires and reviews
  • System architecture maps
  • Reviews on identity management and user access
  • Procedures of event response and business continuity

Step 6: Communicate with your company and industry

Continuous compliance is not a one-man show, but rather a multi-disciplinary procedure that requires the cooperation of many stakeholders. Therefore, communicate effectively internally and with third party service providers.

As mentioned earlier, the people that store and process your data are the most important asset. Choosing and hiring the right people is just the basis. You must actively and continuously communicate within the industry to maintain a successful data protection campaign.

For instance, your IT and HR departments must be able to communicate seamlessly. While the HR hires employees, the department must report job descriptions to IT personnel to help with the vetting of individuals. Guys from IT department must be present as HR hires IT, professionals.

The IT department then employs these job descriptions to accurately assign role-based authorizations to IT personnel. It is common to find organizations being unable to communicate effectively across departments, with employees failing to interact amongst various departments.

The vendors appointed by a marketing department might be different from those of the IT department. If that is the case, management must conduct vendor insight consistently. Finally, departments must adopt similar or related frameworks to effectively manage compliance.

Author Bio

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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