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Why Your Security Program Needs Continuous Compliance

As pretty much anyone will tell you, achieving and maintaining compliance isn’t easy. If it were, we probably wouldn’t be here.

Here’s how the process typically goes…

First, you have to implement controls that align your InfoSec program with a recognized security framework, like SOC 2 or ISO 27001.

But that’s just half the battle. Then, an impartial third-party, i.e., an auditor, needs to test your systems to actually prove you’re compliant. In some cases, they need to do this annually.

Yes, annually.

As I said above, compliance isn’t easy. That’s why so many businesses—including enterprises with dedicated security and compliance teams—suffer from audit fatigue.

One might assume that continuous compliance would be even more complicated than the regular kind.

I’m here to tell you that it isn’t.

What Is Continuous Compliance?

First things first. Let’s formally define continuous compliance.

Continuous compliance is about having the right strategy, tools, people, and culture in place to ensure you’re always meeting industry regulatory demands and protecting critical data assets.

The key word here is “always”.

Right now, you prove compliance at regular intervals instead of continuously. Let’s take a look at a SOC 2 example below to show you what I mean.

After your systems have been audited, your auditor will provide you with a report. In it, they’ll offer their opinion regarding your compliance. This opinion is only relevant to the period when they observed and tested your systems.

Technically speaking, you could get an unqualified report that proves you were compliant for your auditing period but become noncompliant afterward.

For example, for SOC 2, there’s a control that requires your team to receive security awareness training as part of onboarding. Let’s say you forget to train a couple new hires because you haven’t automated the process. That control, which is required to maintain SOC 2, would then be inoperable.

In other words, you wouldn’t be SOC 2 compliant anymore. So, next time you’re evaluated, if your auditor picks a sample and selects those two new hires, you’d fail that control. 

I use this example to demonstrate how easy it is to lose compliance when you don’t have the right processes in place. The example I noted above wouldn’t be a big deal, just as long as you fixed it in time for your next audit. That said, changes in people, processes and technology can impact the operability of your controls. And if you’re not monitoring them regularly, your annual audits can become a lot harder than they should be.

Which is where continuous compliance can help.

PS: Want to turn your InfoSec program into a trust-building, money-making machine? Download The Future of Information Security and see how tomorrow’s category leaders are going to turn security into a competitive advantage

 

Why You Need Continuous Compliance

Continuous compliance might sound like a lot of extra legwork, but it should actually make your life easier.

Here’s how.

No More Audit Fatigue

According to a recent Telos study, the average business has 13 different privacy and security regulations they need to comply with.

Yikes.

That means businesses have to routinely ensure their policies are up-to-date, that their controls are implemented, and that they have the documentation to prove it. Often, this requires plenty of manual work—and it has to happen throughout the year. Every year. Ad infinitum.

It’s easy to see how compliance can become a drain on time and resources when you’re constantly preparing for an audit or in the process of being audited.

Continuous compliance should fix that. It lowers operational costs and simplifies the compliance process. With the right systems in place, you can automate evidence collection and monitor your risks. The best part?

You can do this all in real-time, without lifting a finger.

A More Proactive Approach to Security

Let’s face it. Most businesses have adopted a reactive approach to InfoSec. I’m not throwing shade. That’s just how it is.

In 2019, a KPMG report found that only a handful of businesses were actually integrating cybersecurity best practices from the get-go. For the others, security was tagged on as an afterthought.

Being proactive about security inspires confidence in customers and prospects. It’s a huge differentiator, and it can build trust and win you more deals. It also enables you to anticipate potential security issues and maintain a resilient program.

It turns out continuous compliance can help with that by updating you with potential security gaps before they become a problem.

Better Security Assurance

To provide security assurance to customers and prospects, you have to prove you’re compliant with certain standards and regulations. That’s why you need to share the report your auditor produced after evaluating your systems.

For lack of a better way of putting it, that report is the word of god.

It proves you passed your audit and that your systems are trustworthy.

That said, it’s only a snapshot of your InfoSec program over a specific period of time. With continuous compliance, you can offer customers and prospects a transparent look at how your program is functioning from the ground up at any moment in time (on top of proving you’re always compliant).

Of course, we’re not suggesting replacing the work your auditor does but simply complementing their evaluation with a security assurance report that verifies you’re continuously compliant and enhances your posture.

How Tugboat Logic Can Help

If you’d like to up your security game and simplify compliance, we should talk.

Tugboat Logic automates the auditing process and enables continuous compliance, from monitoring your risks, to gathering evidence for your auditor, to providing security assurance reports to your customers.