What Is Continuous Compliance + How To Achieve It ?
The days of waiting for audit results to uncover an organization's internal security issues are over. With cyberattacks increasing drastically, security standards are becoming invaluable tools for securing an organization. More than just implementing these standards, companies are now using them to monitor the risks they face on a daily basis. Companies have therefore entered into a process of continuous improvement of their security standards through what is called continuous compliance.
What is Continuous Compliance ?
Continuous compliance is a proactive approach to managing regulatory standards, ensuring that organizations consistently adhere to them in an ongoing and seamless manner. It goes beyond the traditional point-in-time audits and sporadic checks by integrating compliance into everyday operations, creating a robust compliance framework.
At its core, continuous compliance is driven by automation , leveraging cutting-edge technology solutions like Trout Software, to streamline and optimize compliance processes.
By harnessing automation, organizations can effectively monitor their systems, data, and processes in real-time, identifying potential compliance gaps and promptly addressing them.
This proactive approach not only minimizes the risk of non-compliance but also enables organizations to detect and mitigate emerging compliance issues before they escalate into significant problems.
In short, this process allows you to set a maximum security standard 24/7 and be notified if the standard is not met.
Why is Staying Continuously Compliant important ?
Trust and Reputation :
Compliance is a cornerstone of building trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders.
When organizations demonstrate a strong commitment to compliance, they instill confidence in their ability to protect sensitive information, maintain ethical standards, and safeguard customer data.
Mitigating Legal and Financial Risks :
Non-compliance can have severe consequences, including legal penalties, fines, and lawsuits. Staying continuously compliant minimizes the risk of regulatory violations, ensuring that organizations avoid costly legal battles and reputational damage.
By adhering to relevant laws and regulations, organizations protect themselves from financial risks and preserve their financial stability.
Data Security and Privacy :
Compliance regulations often focus on data security and privacy, aiming to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, breaches, and misuse.
Continuous compliance ensures that organizations have robust data protection measures in place, thanks in particular to the implementation of automated access control, reducing the risk of data breaches and the potential impact on individuals' privacy.
Competitive Advantage :
Organizations that prioritize continuous compliance gain a competitive edge in the market. Compliance serves as a differentiating factor, demonstrating to customers that the organization takes their security and privacy seriously.
This can be a decisive factor for customers when choosing between competing businesses. Compliance can also open doors to new business opportunities, particularly in industries with strict regulatory requirements where non-compliant organizations may be excluded from lucrative contracts or partnerships.💪
Operational Efficiency :
Adopting a continuous compliance approach streamlines business processes and promotes operational efficiency. Automation tools and processes help to identify compliance gaps and inefficiencies in real-time, enabling prompt corrective actions.
By integrating compliance into everyday operations, organizations reduce the burden of manual compliance checks and audits, freeing up resources and allowing employees to focus on core business activities.
Be audit ready everyday! 💃
However, it is important to note that if today compliance automation is a competitive advantage, in the coming months it will become the norm. Thus, not entering into a continuous compliance approach will be considered as a real blocking point by your customers. 🤯
In order to set up an efficient continuous compliance you have to implement it process by process :
Policy management involves the development, implementation, and enforcement of compliance policies within your organization.
It includes defining the scope of policies, ensuring you align with regulatory requirements, and communicating them to your employees.
Compliance automation can be utilized to streamline policy distribution, tracking, and acknowledgment processes.
The purpose of the policies to be put in place is also to encourage you to go and check with your business stakeholders if your data is secure. To do this you can automate the tracking and managing vendor compliance and conduct periodic assessments.
Data has become for many companies their most valuable asset, so protecting it is a priority. To do so, you need to put in place policies regarding the secure collection, storage, processing and disposal of data within your organization. This includes aspects such as data classification, access controls, encryption, retention policies and data breach response plans, this can be easily automated through an automation tool.
Understanding the risks affiliated with your business is essential if you want to best protect yourself.
This requires conducting risk assessments of your business and environment, then defining risk mitigation strategies and implementing controls to reduce potential risks to an acceptable level, the implementation of continuous compliance automation can help you to carry out this process more quickly.
It is also relevant to assign a level of criticality to risks in order to have a more detailed analysis and the implementation of controls that perfectly match the potential risk issues.
Vulnerability management focuses on identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in software applications, systems, and networks that could be exploited by malicious actors. It includes vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, and patch management.
Automation tools can streamline vulnerability scanning, patch management, and remediation processes.
This refers to the process of handling and responding to security incidents and breaches promptly and effectively.
Automation tools can aid in incident detection, alerting, and workflow management to ensure a swift and coordinated response.
Business continuity management
Business continuity management focuses on ensuring the continuity of critical business operations in the face of disruptive events or disasters.
It includes the development and testing of business continuity plans, backup and recovery strategies, and disaster response procedures, this can be assisted by automation.
Human resources management involves personnel management, hiring practices, employee onboarding, training, performance management and employee record keeping.
Managing all of this confidential information is very important, and processes must be put in place to ensure compliance with various employment laws and regulations and internal policies.
The implementation of automated controls can facilitate this entire process.
How to implement continuous compliance ?
1 - Understand Compliance Standards
For this step you need to learn about the regulations that apply to your business in a mandatory way like GDPR for example. Complete this analysis by informing yourself by identifying specific standards and frameworks that are relevant to your industry, region and business operations.
Once you have identified the standards required for your business and the ones you want to implement, you can start implementing these standards in your company.
2 - Establish a Compliance Framework
The goal is to identify the gaps between the company's current practices and the desired practices of the standard and then put policies in place to close the gap.
An important part of this step is also to have an exhaustive mapping of the company's resources in order to be able to protect them as well as possible and to extend the new policies to all the resources concerned.
3 - Implement Controls
You must then define controls that will ensure compliance with the policies in place. Depending on the standards, a checklist can be given as it is the case with Annex A of ISO 27001 for example. These controls will act as guard lights if a deviation from the defined baseline is observed.
4 - Implement Continuous Compliance Automation
In order to automate the process of continuous compliance, the company must set up automated controls with a control automation software like Trout Software .
Automation software will allow teams to get rid of manual tasks like running controls and instead simply be notified if a deviation from the baseline is found.
5 - Create documentation and reporting
You must then justify compliance with the standard to third parties such as auditors. To do this, you need to put in place a documentation process to prove compliance with the standard. We recommend that you write a process for documenting the evidence for each standard, with sub-processes for documenting different parts of the process, such as baseline deviation, process change history and audit reports.
6 - Improves the process
The implementation of continuous compliance is part of a company's desire for continuous improvement of its processes. Thus, thanks to the data collected by the controls, the audit reports, but also the changes in the standards, the members of the company must regularly question themselves on how they can improve the processes in place 🔂
Continuous Compliance in the Cloud
Ongoing compliance in the cloud is a critical aspect of maintaining security and meeting regulatory requirements. It is also one of the most complicated aspects to monitor especially with the democratization of multi-cloud infratructures. Companies can use continuous compliance automation software to help them with this task to simplify asset management and maintain compliance and security efficiently.
Here are the different tasks on which the compliance automation tool can be interesting:
Continuously monitor assets and configurations :
Regularly monitor your cloud assets, configurations and access controls to identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities. Implement automated processes that can effectively assess compliance status and detect any deviation from established security controls. The goal here is not to replace proprietary cloud systems like AWS Config but simply to establish common, centralized processes for your entire cloud infrastructure.
Use an automated control system :
Deploy an automated control system that ensures consistent application of compliance measures. Automate routine tasks, such as vulnerability scans and configuration checks, to reduce human error and improve efficiency.
Implement an anomaly detection system :
Implement a system that can quickly detect anomalies in activities, configurations or cloud access patterns. Anomalies can indicate potential security breaches or compliance violations, and immediate alerts allow for timely investigation and remediation.
Implement cyber asset attack surface management :
Incorporate practices that assess and manage the attack surface of your cloud assets. This involves identifying potential vulnerabilities and taking proactive steps to mitigate risk.
Enhance your Continuous Compliance Monitoring with Trout Software 🎣
Implementing a continuous compliance process is a task that allows the company to gain security but at the same time is very time and resource intensive.
Software support can help you achieve continuous compliance automation faster and easier.
Our software, Trout Software, was designed to enable compliance and security teams to scale their impact through automation.
We have 4 specific and tailored value propositions for continuous compliance :
Simplify connection to your entire environment : We have developed a set of pre-built connectors to enable teams to simply connect all software and start configurations.
No-code interface for simplified control implementation : We have developed a no-code interface that allows anyone in your organization to set up controls. We know how important the operational experience of the teams is to set up the most relevant controls, with our interface we give them the possibility to set up controls and work hand in hand with the compliance and security teams.
An automation of your controls in 3 clicks : First click : Select your Notebook Second click : Enter the automation values, from when you want to automate the control, what is the reciprocity of the control, the number of repetitions of the control. Third click : Click on "Schedule", to launch the automation.
A generalized control center for an efficient continuous compliance : All controls are centralized in our "Scheduler", an interface in which you can find all current automated controls and their results over time.