Taking control of your IT systems ensures that you achieve and maintain compliance which results in increased security on an ongoing basis. Even though technological advancements have made it possible for there to be a continuous flow and transmission of information, they cannot rely on a single annual audit to guarantee perpetual security. Technology and compliance go hand in hand.
What is continuous compliance?
In a nutshell, this refers to the creation of a culture within a company, which comprises strategies that are used as a benchmark to review the safety measures put in place to protect your data environment.
In the beginning, compliance was more focused on regular audits. Continuous compliance is a more recommended option since it allows you to get enough information about how efficient your safety controls are, round the clock.
How is continuous compliance important to companies?
Continuous compliance aims at keeping data secured at all times. This provides the companies with a means of dealing with external threats wherever outsiders attempt to gain access to their protected data. It keeps the vulnerability levels at a minimum so the companies are not prone to exploitations that may arise if malicious parties gained access to the data.
Ways of Ensuring Continuous Compliance
We’ll look six steps that one should take to ensure continuous compliance:
- Involve the right people
For starters, make sure that the entire team works together; from the senior management to the support staff. The secret lies in the people. Everyone needs to understand the importance and need for compliance.
Having the right team will effortlessly create a robust compliance program that value information security. It’s, therefore, very important that you involve the right people right from the word go. Hiring the right team will save you a lot of time in the future since there will be no need to filter, fire, and rehire.
- Pinpoint what the critical assets are
The second step involves the identification of all the locations where your data is stored. These could either be physical or in the cloud. To keep your data safe on the internet, you need to identify the locations, catalog, and finally rate them on the basis of risk. Do this repeatedly.
A perfect example is PCI compliance. Here you find that the shopkeepers are required to know exactly where their point-of-sales systems store and transmit data.
Anyone that uses hybrid cloud solutions is expected to identify their data storage locations i.e. physical, private cloud and third-party public cloud assets. Data security should be maintained in each and every one of those locations.
- Establishing and activating controls
When you identify where all your critical assets are stored, you are in a better position to protect it. More companies are now adopting the Zero Trust compliance model where they’re supposed to assume that all the data stored is at risk of attack and needs to be protected.
This model ensures that both internal and external data environments are protected.
The most commonly used controls include encryption and the adoption of firewalls.
- Continuous monitoring
Continuous insights provide a way for you to assess the threats to your data environment. Every now and then hackers are devising new ways of attacking and gaining access to the protected data.
Constant evaluation of your data environment will instantly let you know you know whenever there’s a breach. Put in place a system that sends out alerts to give you the chance to respond quickly in the event of an attempted intrusion.
Keeping records of the overall performance can be a great way to see for yourself and to prove to others that the control measures put in place to protect your data work.
Let us look at how documentation can be used as a proof of performance in continuous compliance:
- System logs
- Software configurations
- System blueprints
- Seller reviews and questionnaires
- Security policies, procedures, and protocols
- User access and identity management reviews
- Business event response procedures and continuity procedures
You are required to be in open communication with the various stakeholders within the company. Continuous compliance requires that all the people involved in overseeing the IT compliance function communicate with each other, and on a regular basis.
Most times you will find that keeping open communication channels within the organization is a challenge for most companies. It gets quite difficult to align the various departments in a company. As a result, inconsistencies arise.
For the successful running of the company, all the departments need to be integrated and in communication with each other. This way you’ll be sure to keep your data environments secure.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.