Security and Compliance: Steps to Activate Your Wonder Twin Powers

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Published 01/24/2018

Many view security and compliance as either competing interests or the same interests. In reality, they  Children of the 1980’s can remember the infamous Wonder Twins, siblings whose powers would only work when touching hands, leading to the iconic call, “Wonder Twin powers activate!” Security and compliance are the Wonder Twins of information security.

What Does Compliance Mean?

Compliance means following the guidelines set by regulations and standards to help meet best business practices. In some cases, such as HIPAA compliance, your organization works to avoid villainous penalties. In other situations, such as PCI DSS compliance, your company uses compliance to prove itself to vendors and customers.

A single compliance definition does not give you the real value of engaging in the process. Value comes from proving yourself a trustworthy ally with business partners. To gain revenue, you can use SOC 1 audit reports or SOC2/3 reports to help show your reliability and increase new avenues in which to scale your business.

While compliance may seem nothing more than a time-consuming slog, thinking about it as one half of the superhero power that invigorates your business can make it look less mundane.

What Does Security Mean?

Security comes from protecting information from unauthorized or malicious access. Security focuses on the hardware and software that store your data whether using firewalls, passwords, encryption tools, or other data and network safety measures.

Often, security seems to be the real superhero of infosec because its power thwarts the villains from theft. The steps of detection, prevention, and response through policies, protocols, and tools require the appropriate mechanisms to aid security endeavors.

How Compliance Aids Security

Just as the Wonder Twins needed one another to activate their powers, so your IT environment is stronger when you combine the power of compliance and security.

Compliance offers best business practices to aid your security efforts. Compliance with industry frameworks such as ISO, COBIT, NIST, and PCI DSS suggest protocols that have been tested and proven to protect environments. Regulations like HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley include monetary penalties, but they also created state-of-the-industry standards intended to protect IT landscapes.

Security informs compliance, too. PCI DSS compliance gives prescriptive step-by-step instructions for what to do and how to secure your information. Other compliance requirements, like HIPAA, require that you engage in risk assessments. When a risk assessment is necessary, you need to begin with your cybersecurity landscape and then move from there to establish the protocols and policies that best meet your needs.

How to Activate the Wonder Twin Powers of Compliance and Security

The first step creating an all-powerful compliance and security program is recognizing how to combine the two meaningfully.

Catalogue Your Environment

Your individual organization’s needs must come first. Despite the fear of auditors and regulators, you can be neither compliant nor secure if you do not know your IT assets. Determine where your information lives by system, hardware, or software.

Once you know how you manage your information, you can look at how those assets pose risks. For example, all your hardware may have Intel chips impacted by Meltdown and Spectre. However, the security threats arise out of physical access. These are different threats than those posed by ransomware which exploit security vulnerabilities through databases or lack of employee security training.

Cataloguing your environment gives you the insight needed to apply the security protocols to help you be compliant. While many organizations start with compliance as the guiding principle, the two twins need to work in tandem to help you best protect yourself and your customers.

Focus on Your Business Objectives

Business objectives should inform your security and compliance. If you’re not planning on taking payments, then you don’t need to meet the PCI DSS requirements. If you want to work with banks, then you need to know bank compliance standards.

Determine Your Compliance Standards

Once you know the locations of data and the business objectives, you can choose the standards that meet your needs.

Compliance offers several benefits that most companies ignore. First, if you plan to be a vendor for another business, then you need to prove your compliance because it provides peace of mind. Second, it creates an ongoing system of governance, risk, and compliance that keeps you from becoming complacent about your security. Third, it requires internal audits and external audits that aid in validating your protocols or finding areas where you can better strengthen your oversight.

The interconnected web of assets, business objectives, and standards keeps you both compliant and secure.

How Automation Strengthens Your Combined Security and Compliance

The way the Wonder Twins activated their powers was by connecting to one another. The mire of IT security and compliance often leaves stakeholders disconnected from one another, stymieing communication.

Automated SaaS GRC compliance tools, like ZenGRC, close that gap allowing you to activate your security powers so you can protect your environment from a malicious actor or security virus.

Shared Documentation

Sharing documentation to create a single source of information is the first step to closing the communication gap. By moving from spreadsheets to an automated system, everyone has precisely the access they need to make sure that your actions match your words. Further, with ZenGRC, you can provide the right amount of breadth or depth in a report to match your audience’s needs. Your Board of Directors can receive high-level reports tracking the threats and mitigations, while your CISO and CTO can have more detailed information indicating how compliant you are with individual standards.

Continuous Monitoring

Keeping your company secure means continually monitoring system updates that can put you at risk. As part of your governance program, you need to track your compliance to mitigate new threats. With ZenGRC, you have instant insight into the latest software updates with color-coded warnings to alert you and allow you to focus on the most critical patches.

Gap Analysis

Security means knowing what elements protect you from misuse of information. Compliance gives you ways to check that protection. As you scale your business, you may need to add new compliance areas, such as Sarbanes-Oxley. Adding a new compliance measure should be related to engaging in the appropriate security steps. With ZenGRC’s gap analysis tool, you can see what current controls match your new compliance efforts to help speed this process and ensure that you meet all requirements.

To learn more about how ZenGRC helps you activate your Wonder Twin powers, schedule a demo today.