Benefits of Continuous Compliance Monitoring in the Cloud

By Fouad Khalil

Posted on Jul 29, 2019

Businesses of all sizes throughout the world have been struggling with how to effectively address information security management for many decades; long before there were any regulations or other legal requirements for implementing specific information security safeguards.

Even once the initial goal of establishing information security, privacy controls and processes are met, along with meeting all applicable legal requirements for security and privacy compliance, information assurance professionals cannot simply stop and pat themselves on their backs. There is a crucial next step that is often overlooked — the continuing need to maintain those levels on an ongoing basis.

Manage cloud security risk

2017 was a seminal year when cloud computing took a leap in capabilities as cloud service providers, like AWS, made available the next generation of cloud computing capabilities, with new data storage options and processing capabilities. Clouds within the business environment, and used outside of the direct control of the organization’s IT department, must be managed to mitigate associated information security and privacy risks.

Continuous oversight is crucial

Continuous oversight activities provide visibility into the real-time metrics and the current status of cyber security and privacy levels, at any point in time, to facilitate the most effective maintenance of ongoing management. These oversight activities, applicable to all types and sizes of organizations, include: 

  • Continuous in-house assurance
  • Continuous external cloud assurance
  • Continuous improvement
  • Continuous supply chain management.

Key benefits of continuous monitoring

A few of the key benefits of using a continuous monitoring program that will resonate with business leaders, and those who make budgeting and resourcing decisions, include:

  • Promoting real-time information security, privacy and compliance risk management.
  • Supporting ongoing information system and common controls authorization through the implementation of continuous monitoring processes.
  • Providing senior leaders and executives with the information necessary to make time-efficient, cost-effective, risk management decisions.
  • Incorporating information security and privacy controls and protections into the full data, applications, and systems development life cycle.
  • Linking and incorporating essential risk management processes within the data, applications, and systems to risk management processes at the organization level.
  • Supporting proactive responsibility and accountability for the controls and risk management activities.

Supply chain security risks

A large portion of security incidents and privacy breaches are caused by contracted vendors, third parties and business partners. The frequency by which the full list of vendors, suppliers, contractors, and other third parties are reviewed is imperative in mitigating cloud risks. Organizations must begin asking themselves which third parties are critical to the business environment, and of those, which have access to any kind of personal or sensitive data.

Bridging the gap

Due diligence is needed to have an effective hold on the many threat vectors posed from the cloud. Information assurance professionals can more effectively mitigate the risks created by new and emerging technologies and practices through the use of continuous monitoring activities. Security controls must be embedded in all our daily procedures.

All organizations throughout the world currently face significant new types of information security, privacy and compliance challenges. Many of these challenges come through the use of cloud services and involve new and emerging technologies and practices. Supply chain services and products also are increasingly provided through cloud connections, or within cloud servers, so those associated risks must also be mitigated.

Information assurance professionals can more effectively mitigate the risks through the use of continuous monitoring activities. Put on your security professional hat and obtain visible support of executive leadership, implement the continuous monitoring and oversight capabilities, ensure that compliance with all legal requirements is the norm and, most of all, keep an eye on all your vendors and supply chains. Stay ahead of hackers and ahead of auditors as your core businesses model morphs into the unavoidable cloud.

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