In a business climate of emerging security risks and expanding regulatory requirements, security and compliance leaders are struggling under the pressure of maintaining ongoing compliance. A February 2023 AuditBoard flash poll of over 1,000 compliance, risk, and audit professionals across a range of industries revealed the biggest compliance challenges are: business and technical transformation (23%), talent management/strained resources (22%), and rapidly changing requirements (15%).
These findings are a compelling indication that, in the face of rapidly expanding compliance demands, InfoSec professionals are in dire need of a new approach. AuditBoard’s new ebook, The InfoSec Survival Guide: Achieving Continuous Compliance, explores the basis of this need and dives into solutions at every stage of the compliance life cycle to help InfoSec teams of all maturity levels improve and optimize their practices.
Read on below to get up to speed on why teams are increasingly adopting a continuous approach to compliance, and download the full InfoSec Survival Guide here.
Adopting a Continuous Approach to Compliance
For a security compliance program to be effective, it must be built into the fabric of the organization, its processes, and its people. This is the underlying motive for adopting a continuous approach to compliance, also known as continuous monitoring. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines continuous monitoring as:
“Maintaining ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to support organizational risk management decisions.”
The same AuditBoard flash poll found that 67% of respondents believe a continuous monitoring approach benefits compliance teams by enabling them to be proactive and more efficient in their compliance efforts. This is because a strong continuous monitoring foundation allows an organization to quickly pivot and respond strategically as new compliance requirements come into scope. Continuous monitoring can also help course-correct the challenges and shortcomings of a traditional approach to compliance, such as:
- Point-in-time compliance results. Teams with limited time and resources will perform point-in-time audits or assessments and build their control testing programs around these annual rituals. This produces results that are point-in-time in nature, which may lead to missed findings that can appear during other times of the year.
- Finite resources. Many compliance teams must contend with limited time, staff, and budgets. This forces teams to make tough decisions regarding what can be realistically assessed in a given timeframe. Teams sometimes have to make sacrifices, such as audit scope, depth of testing, or even longer gaps of time between tests.
- Process owner fatigue. The evidence request process is time-consuming and takes away from process owners’ day-to-day jobs, which can lead to friction between stakeholders and compliance teams. Furthermore, stakeholders are sometimes subject to requests from teams performing different assessments with overlapping scope.
Benefits of a Continuous Monitoring Approach
- A continuous monitoring approach is risk-based. It focuses on prioritizing compliance activities by risk level, enabling compliance teams to work more efficiently with limited resources.
- A continuous monitoring approach is proactive. Requirements always exist, not just during an audit, but as part of daily operations. When this is the expectation, compliance control owners understand that at regular intervals, they will need to provide evidence they have been maintaining, instead of scrambling to create or produce evidence reactively.
- A continuous monitoring approach can be iterative. Adopting continuous monitoring does not necessarily need to be accomplished in one fell swoop. No matter where you are in your journey, you can take steps to move your compliance program toward more continuous compliance.
- A continuous monitoring approach uses automation and technology in the name of efficiency. Continuous monitoring utilizes technology, e.g. governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), project management, and analytics applications to automate and streamline areas of your compliance program. Doing so creates efficiencies and can result in other benefits including better organization, improved collaboration, reduced stakeholder fatigue, and improved reporting.
Download the full ebook, The InfoSec Survival Guide: Achieving Continuous Compliance, to learn best practices for incorporating a continuous monitoring approach into your InfoSec compliance program.