Compliance and risk management aren’t the same, but they are closely aligned with one another. Companies operating with IT and data-intensive technologies and industries must attend to the reality that risk of breach, damage, or data loss exists in their system and that they will almost always have to manage the balance between optimized business goals and security and compliance requirements.
Risk management, however, can be a simpler and more streamlined process with the use of automated tools. Here, we’ll introduce how automation speaks to risk assessment and management.
What is Risk Management?
Simply put, risk management is a process of identifying threats in your organization based on current configurations, tools and procedures. More specifically, these threats are related to how your organization has or has not implemented specific security measures or compliance standards.
Think of the term “risk”. We think of making choices that could end up in a positive way or a negative way. We think that the risk associated with a choice is directly related to the severity of the negative outcome and its likelihood of occurring.
Risk assessment and management as a discipline is therefore locating the places in which your organization is vulnerable to attack based on decisions made by leadership and determining how to reduce the potential for negative (especially catastrophic) outcomes like breaches or non-compliance. At the same time, IT systems and the businesses that run on them aren’t hermetically sealed: at some point, your business has to decide how much risk is warranted to optimize operations, reduce costs, or further financial or growth goals.
With complex systems and interoperating IT infrastructures spanning on-prem solutions, cloud environments and a variety of operating systems and devices, assessing and managing risk can become a complex and daunting task. This is because decisions made to minimize risk are essential decisions that span nearly every aspect of your business, including:
- Cybersecurity and IT infrastructure
- Compliance and the industries you can work in
- Personnel, including training and continuing education
- Hardware support, mobile access and devices
- Financial decisions related to technology, security staff and hiring
- Reputation management related to trustworthiness and security
- Legal positioning based on compliance and industry standards
The challenge of managing risk across all of these different aspects is that risks come from a lot of different directions, including:
- Hackers out for a profit
- Hacktivists (including independent white-hats)
- State-sponsored cyber attacks
- Insider threats
- Failures of software or security design
Unsurprisingly, most compliance frameworks require some level of risk management to help support maintaining proper security controls. As stated before, however, managing risk is tough because systems are so complex that it’s hard to track, catalog and remediate risk across those systems. This is where automation can help.
How Can Automation Support Risk Management?
A quick note before discussing automation: automation is not a cure-all for complex audits and risk assessment. Sometimes, and in many cases most times, expert security and risk professionals are going to be the best and most effective providers of risk assessment you can find. These experts are not replaceable by automation.
What is replaceable, however, is the minutiae of risk assessments and audits. Part of any risk assessment is a robust demand for investigation, documentation and audit logging that provides a comprehensive view of a system and its operation. Following that, automating basic reporting tasks, including audits and document and form management, reduces a huge chunk of work that goes into the assessment process.
Beyond this, modern automation systems do offer advanced tools to support risk management. That’s because, when it comes to concrete compliance requirements, it’s easy to determine where certain forms of risk are. For example, an automated system can quickly determine that an encryption algorithm is not up to modern standards, or that a network configuration is not properly secured. Additionally, new tools are bringing deep insights into risk. These tools include:
- Cloud computing: The cloud is often used as a buzzword, but cloud platforms and SaaS tools offload the complexity of risk automation so that you don’t have to worry about implementation. More importantly, these tools allow your audits to leverage modern approaches like big data analytics and AI to give you better insight and more accurate, effective risk audits.
- AI and machine learning: AI has grown exponentially over the past decade, and it has great application in areas like automating compliance. AI can recognize more than just clear breaches of compliance or lack of security–AI can actually observe patterns in your organization (either technical, administrative, or financial) and make suggestions based on those insights to minimize your risk.
- Intelligence systems: Intelligence systems can give you a dashboard to help you control how assessment tools manage risk. If your organization is open to more risk or less, an intelligence system can use AI and insights to drive risk management based on your criteria and feed critical intelligence back to decision makers.
- Compliance report generation: Compliance is tough, not simply because meeting standards is hard but because proving that you meet them is a chore. Modern automation can reduce the time needed to fill forms, print templates, fill spreadsheets, dot I’s and cross t’s much, much faster than human counterparts.
Automated tools, coupled with a dedicated team of security experts, can help you manage risk in a way to optimize your systems without exposing you to unwanted security or compliance problems.
The New Tools for Automating Risk Management with Continuum GRC
The truth is that risk is always present in an information-driven business, and you will almost always work with some form of risk management. That doesn’t have to be yet another hurdle your organization faces, another obstacle in the way of success. Instead, risk, just like security and compliance, should be integral parts of your business and growth strategy.
Likewise, your partnerships with security and compliance partners should also be part of that strategy.
With Continuum GRC, you get the automation platform that supports compliance across your entire organization. That includes technical security measures, organizational processes and risk management. Our tool supports compliance across major frameworks like HIPAA, StateRAMP, FedRAMP, ISO, C5, and NIST standards, SOX and SOC 1, 2 and 3 attestations. More importantly, our team of experts supports real and effective compliance and remediation. We help you check the boxes for compliance while moving beyond the checklist into real security.
All that, and we reduce what can normally take weeks or months to a process that only takes days.
Continuum GRC is proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-6207 to discuss your organization’s cybersecurity needs and find out how we can help your organization protect its systems and ensure compliance.