Automation is a critical component of risk management strategies, but businesses aren’t using it enough. Here’s how to change that.

An Evolving Threat and Risk Landscape

Over the past few years, unprecedented rates of change in the way companies do business sent organizations scrambling to accelerate their digital transformation with little time to consider the cybersecurity implications. These changes include:

  • Hybrid workforces as more employees worked remotely, requiring access to enterprise data.
  • Proliferating digital channels to meet growing customer expectations and new business models.
  • Cloud migration to speed digital transformation and improve data analytics.
  • Complex partner ecosystems to increase resiliency during supply chain disruptions.

Once the immediate need for change was met, it was time for a reckoning. Bad actors quickly seized upon the situation, upping the size, frequency and sophistication of attacks.

More Attacks, Less Confidence

77% of organizations have seen an increase in attacks in the last 12 months.1

Just 9% of corporate boards feel “extremely confident” their organizations are protected from major cyber attacks.2

Playing Catch-Up

With digital transformation efforts well underway and cyber threats on the rise, organizations need to modernize their governance, risk and compliance (GRC) programs quickly. Business as usual simply can’t keep up with the rate of change.

  • Risk tracking on spreadsheets and manual data gathering is slow and error-prone.
  • Periodic risk assessments are outdated as soon as they are completed.
  • A growing talent crunch leaves few resources for strategic approaches to risk.
  • Cybersecurity is misaligned with business priorities, opening a communication gap between security leaders and corporate management.

The Road to GRC is Paved With Speed Bumps

In a recent RiskOptics survey of 50 mid-market CIOs representing IT leadership across multiple industries nationwide, respondents outlined their top three GRC program challenges:3

  • 42% Limited resources/budget
  • 19% New or changing regulations
  • 15% Tracking and maintaining compliance

Automate Risk Management For The Win

GRC as usual is no longer sufficient. The typical approach – a reactive stance with a heavy reliance on spreadsheets and manual tasks versus a proactive stance – must give way to automated identification, detection and response to keep up. GRC programs needed to:

  • Shift from a periodic check-the-box approach to a more comprehensive program.
  • Coordinate compliance, cybersecurity and risk management.
  • Align risk with business objectives.
  • Prioritize always-on risk monitoring.

Mature risk-management programs evolve over three stages: planning, execution and assurance.

CIOs Realize the Urgency in Investing in Automated GRC Technology

Top 3 CIO GRC Initiatives:4

  • 38% Increasing GRC budget and resources
  • 19% Investing in a GRC solution
  • 17% Automating the GRC program

Stage I: Planning

The traditional approach typically starts with a register of possible risks, then mapping these risks to controls and business processes. By contrast, a more strategic approach starts with business objectives:

  • Risk executives such as the CISO or CIO work with their peers on the business side to analyze business activity and prioritize strategic outcomes.
  • Security leaders develop communication channels to communicate business cybersecurity risk to the C-suite and board of directors.
  • CISOs sharpen their ability to understand and communicate a business context around technology and the business outcomes it supports.

Automating the Planning Stage

A highly automated GRC platform can:

  • Provide expert guidance to help choose the right mix of frameworks, risk registers and scoring methodologies.
  • Pull the in-scope controls based on the requirements you choose.
  • Provide the correlating evidence-request templates for both automated and manual evidence collection.
  • Update the frameworks as they evolve with managed content services.

Stage II: Execution

As companies mature their risk management, they naturally shift their approach from compliance-first to risk-first. This requires multiple levels of visibility to put context around the data that is meaningful to specific audiences, as well as the ability to report by business goals.

  • CISOs need to see data at a roll-up level in a business context. This data is not technical, but expressed in business language tied to investments to satisfy risk appetite.
  • Audit managers need to see audit status to gauge the effectiveness of controls.
  • Risk managers need to see residual risk so they can maintain risk within predefined acceptable levels.

Automating Execution

Best-in-class GRC solutions can automate:

  • Data ingestion
  • Evidence request submissions and collection
  • Real-time risk scoring
  • Data classification for granular access control

Stage III: Assurance

The final phase of risk management is a system to identify the gaps between risk appetite and real risk. Risk is everyone’s responsibility, but individuals can’t take action if they don’t have information and guidance.

At the strategic level, this requires:

  • Reporting to all stakeholders so that they may evaluate risk within their purview.
  • Remediation planning, to address these risks.
  • Prioritization of risks based on the severity of their impact.

Automating Reporting

Look for a GRC solution that automates:

  • Real-time issue tracking
  • Audience-specific reporting
  • Asset-specific remediation plans

Become More Strategic with IT Risk Management

RiskOptics is dedicated to helping you become more strategic throughout the risk management process. The RiskOptics ROAR Platform provides expert guidance and best practices to give your team the confidence and know-how to create, grow and mature your risk and compliance programs. It can help you eliminate time-consuming, manual work and streamline collaboration by automating workflows and integrating with your most critical systems.

Learn About RiskOptics ROAR

To dive deeper into automating risk management, see our latest white paper, “Automating GRC: The Next Frontier in Risk Management.”

A Guide to Automating Risk Management

1 Cybersecurity: How do you rise above the waves of a perfect storm? | EY – Global

2 Global Board Risk Survey | EY – US

3 New CIO Study: GRC Challenges and Priorities for 2021 – Reciprocity (figures are rounded)

4 New CIO Study: GRC Challenges and Priorities for 2021 – Reciprocity (figures are rounded)

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