Although creating a risk, compliance, and governance (GRC) program begins with risk and ends with governance, we never call them RCG programs. The acronym focuses the activities in order of importance, placing governance first, risk second, and compliance at the end. When looking for a GRC software to manage your program, therefore, you want a risk management solution that focuses on a security-first approach to compliance management.

Why start with risk?

Risk defines the threats to your data. While assuming that all compliance standards want you to follow the rules, the reality is that their goal is engaging in a thoughtful approach to securing your data.

Enterprise risk assessments need to be based on the type of data you collect, store and transmit. A healthcare provider and retailer collect different kinds of information and need to protect them differently. Just like one-size-fits-all sweaters don’t fit all, one-size-fits-all risk and compliance solutions don’t work for all companies equally.

Starting with risk allows you to tailor your threat protections to your unique data needs and use cases.

What is security-first?

When you take a security-first approach to compliance management, you assess and analyze your risks then establish internal controls that protect against the threats.

Most cybersecurity standards and regulations exist to reinforce the need to protect the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of information. In other words, if companies won’t secure their data on their own, then standards and regulations will create a reason for them to find it essential.

Unfortunately, governmental authorities and international organizations take time to agree on best practices. Even more frustrating, sometimes they disagree on approaches. As malicious actors continue to evolve their attack methodologies, what regulation or standard assumes protects your data today can change in the blink of an eye.

Securing your data then aligning those internal controls to standards and regulations creates a robust security stance that allows you to better respond to evolving threats.

What is governance?

When we discuss governance in information security, we focus on a variety of activities. First, we mean organizations need a reporting structure that allows the entire management structure to understand and review the risks and controls.

Regulatory authorities increasingly require your Board of Directors to oversee both your risk analyses and responses to those risks. However, merely showing them a risk assessment doesn’t respond to those requirements. Regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or NY-DFS Cybersecurity Rule can levy monetary fines and penalties against your Board and c-suite for inappropriate governance.

Governance also requires continuous monitoring over changes to your data environment security. Cybersecurity threats evolve and mutate. Malicious actors seek new ways to gain access to information. Zero-day attacks, or attack based on previously-unknown vulnerabilities, can place your data at risk even if you’ve done everything possible to protect it.

Keeping informed about the evolving threats can be overwhelming and lead to a data breach.

Why does governance feel overwhelming?

Every vendor you add to enable business operations increases your digital footprint. More vendors mean more potential threat vectors. However, you can’t scale your organization without incorporating these third-parties.

Governance means continuously monitoring your vendors the same way that you monitor yourself. Software-as-as-Service (SaaS) providers will continue to promote organizational success. However, those vendors that enable productivity or profitability can also place you at risk for a supply-chain data breach. When your vendors lead to a data security weakness, you are also responsible.

Monitoring upstream and downstream supply chain risks also fall under governance which can rapidly overwhelm even the best organization.

How to ease policy management

If you started with a security-first approach to compliance, you’re doing the hardest work first. With controls in place, you’ve started with protection. Now, you need to move on to documentation.

Unfortunately, most of the compliance incorporates documentation to prove that you thoughtfully established your internal controls and had plans that address potential control failures. Regulatory compliance requirements often integrate not only an IT infrastructure policy but also a business continuity policy and disaster recovery policy.

Drilling down further, these policies incorporate subsections, procedures, and processes that you need to document. From change management procedures to roled-based authorization policies, your information security protections come with an overwhelming amount of documentation that you need to maintain and control.

What an automated GRC solution do

Automated GRC solutions seek to enable stronger cybersecurity programs by streamlining the governance process. Rather than spending hours on administrative compliance tasks, GRC tools help consolidate communications and monitoring activities.

A GRC solution can review threats to your environment and provide suggestions for how to better secure your data. Automation enables you to focus on the alerts that pose the most significant risk to your organization’s data. With a GRC software, you can organize alerts based on your risk analysis.

A GRC platform enables you to store all your policies and procedures in a single location to create a single source of truth for audit enablement.

Once you establish your documentation and align your controls to industry standards and regulatory requirements, a GRC platform can streamline future compliance decisions by helping you review your existing controls against other standards and regulations to engage in a gap analysis.

Finally, using automated solutions to managing your information security compliance, you can communicate more efficiently with internal and external stakeholders. Streamlining communication and administrative tasks saves time that can be better spent securing your systems, networks, and software.

By streamlining your security-first information security compliance program with a GRC tool that meets your needs, you can not only create a robust cybersecurity program but engage in the needed monitoring to maintain it.

Get Our GRC Risk Management Software Buyer’s Guide

Our GRC Risk Management Software Buyer’s Guide helps demystify the purchasing process. If you’re looking to incorporate an automated solution to enable your enterprise cybersecurity compliance management, we can help answer some of the most common questions including:

How the tool will impact your business

When to implement a GRC tool

How to find the best tool for your needs

How to prepare implementation

How to successfully maintain your solution’s enablements

Download our GRC Risk Management Software Buyer’s Guide