As businesses scaled their telecommuting capabilities this year in response to the COVID-19 crisis, information security (InfoSec) teams had to move quickly to secure the people, processes, and technologies of newly remote workforces in addition to supporting business continuity efforts. While cybersecurity risk continues to be a top priority for chief information security officers (CISOs) and their teams, the prime objective of information security programs remains enabling an organization to achieve its key strategies and objectives within its risk appetite. In addition to promoting cyber resiliency, IT risk management programs that are developed using a strategic risk-based approach can be a crucial asset for driving revenue. In this article, we will explore why this is the case, and ways in which audit, IT risk, and compliance functions can improve their compliance programs to drive revenue for their businesses.
How Mature InfoSec Programs Help Drive Business
Organizations in a highly competitive industry vertical may practice compliance with commonly accepted security frameworks, such as SOC 2, ISO, and NIST, to clearly indicate to prospective clients and partners that they have a mature InfoSec program and are therefore safe to enter into business with. Enterprise technology companies are especially motivated to possess a SOC 2 report and ISO certification — considered the “gold standards” of information security management — to assure customers that their sensitive data and information assets will be protected.
Furthermore, achieving a widely recognized IT security certification can expedite business in some cases. When businesses review technology contract proposals, it is standard for enterprise technology vendors to receive security questionnaires prepared by prospective clients’ IT security and legal teams. These questionnaires are often highly extensive and time-consuming. Having a SOC 2 report and a certification of compliance with a recognized security framework can give your business a competitive advantage over other businesses, while additionally fast-tracking the process of completing security questions.
Improving InfoSec Programs in Response to 2020 Events
As workforces continue to exercise caution toward COVID-19 by working from home, securing and protecting networks, information assets, and sensitive data remains a top priority. A recent study by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that cybersecurity spending in 2021 is expected to increase in the technology, healthcare, and banking/financial services sectors. In addition to directing these budget increases to improving cybersecurity controls, companies are becoming increasingly open to replatforming their InfoSec programs by shifting cybersecurity tech stacks to cloud-based platforms, as this is often easier than trying to bolt on security features like single sign-on and MFA onto legacy systems.
Meanwhile, many small and medium sized entities’ (SMEs) are seeking to mature their InfoSec programs, not only to improve their organization’s resilience to cybersecurity risks, but also in an effort to drive business in the upcoming year. “In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, stakeholders are more likely to invest in the opportunities that information security can provide for the SME, rather than the worry and anxiety that it can avoid,” a recent article in The CPA Journal states. For some businesses, this may mean obtaining certifications of compliance with frameworks such as PCI DSS, SOC 2, NIST, HITRUST, etc. that can elevate their appeal to potential customers.
As organizations continue to operate under strained budgets and resources, departments investing in and upgrading their information security programs must do so strategically. Whether you are looking to migrate your InfoSec program to a cloud platform or are beginning the process of implementing an IT security framework or obtaining a certification, considering the environment in which you house your data is essential to your success.
Cloud-Based Platforms Drive Efficient and Effective InfoSec Programs
“The hesitation to adopt cloud computing solutions due to security concerns will now yield to the business resiliency potential that cloud computing can provide.”
Businesses are placing greater reliance on cloud-based technologies for their potential to help promote social distancing by reducing dependency on processes that can be hindered by health-related protocols. Not only do cloud applications enable remote working, but cloud providers are also industry leaders in secure infrastructure, built-in access controls, data protection, and monitoring (mature cloud services typically hold certifications such as ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and SOC 2, among others) — meaning clients can expect their data to be protected under the highest security standards. Furthermore, cloud applications are often designed to be integrated with other enterprise applications, enabling an organization to sync its IT risk and controls data with other business functions’ data, contributing to a more holistic, enterprise-wide view of risk.
6 Efficiency Gains a Cloud-Based GRC Platform Enables
Investing in a cloud-based solution can be a cost-effective and efficient way for SMEs with low-maturity InfoSec programs to implement a compliance program based on well-recognized frameworks and resources. In contrast to managing your compliance program manually in spreadsheets, shared drives, and emails, a mature, purpose-built GRC solution is positioned to drive efficiency, visibility, and collaboration with stakeholders, right out of the box. A purpose-built, cloud-based GRC platform can enable you to:
- Easily scope the requirements of any framework. A GRC solution will enable you to quickly implement a variety of regulations and industry standards.
- Centralize your compliance data in a single, reliable location. An ideal GRC environment will allow you to see across all your controls and know which frameworks and requirements they map to. This is a critical foundation to pull real-time, accurate data from which you can analyze and make informed decisions upon.
- Streamline compliance activities across multiple frameworks to reduce repetitive administrative tasks. By streamlining the process of framework gap assessment, a purpose-built GRC will allow you to consolidate tasks that serve similar requirements across different frameworks.
- Easily update requirements and adopt additional compliance frameworks. A purpose-built GRC will streamline the process of updating controls and mapping new requirements, without losing centralization or impacting existing testing schedules.
- Efficiently perform assessments. A purpose-built GRC will provide workflows that automate end-to-end processes — from self-assessments, control certifications, and evidence collection, to performing test procedures. Consequently, this leads to time savings and less audit and stakeholder burnout.
- Drive the actual certification process by enabling third-party auditors to work in a centralized platform containing all relevant data.
5 Benefits of Transitioning Your InfoSec Program to a Cloud-Based GRC
Furthermore, organizations that are transitioning their InfoSec programs to a cloud-based solution can also realize efficiencies and benefits from migrating their data to a centralized GRC platform. Some of these benefits include:
- Having one centralized location that serves as the single source of truth for all of your requirements, controls, and risk data.
- Seamless collaboration with all compliance stakeholder groups.
- Real-time metrics, dashboards, and reporting.
- Ability to view, manage, and update the relationships between risks, controls, and compliance framework requirements.
- Built-in automation workflows that empower you to efficiently perform assessments and streamline issue management.
As businesses look ahead to 2021, developing and fortifying a risk-based InfoSec program is essential for supporting business resilience and driving growth. Taking the time to vet an intuitive and easy-to-use solution to manage your information security program data can be a force multiplier that enables a business to accelerate its InfoSec capabilities without hiring more resources — which translates into efficiency gains and cost savings. This is especially important in light of industry concerns regarding continued risk volatility and unpredictability in the new year. The risks of negligence — in the form of data breaches, reputational damage, and regulatory fines — are far too costly to gloss over. Ensuring your InfoSec program is housed in an environment that is optimized for efficiency, visibility, and collaboration will set your organization up for success — and leveraging a purpose-built, cloud-based platform is one of the best places to start. Learn how AuditBoard’s integrated information security compliance solution can help you drive revenue for your organization.