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Modern enterprises now face unprecedented security challenges due to transformative changes such as remote working, distributed systems, cloud deployment, and SaaS solutions. Their security perimeter has expanded remarkably. This wider attack surface poses many risks to the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of organisations' systems and data, often resulting in security incidents.
PwC Switzerland’s new whitepaper “Security compliance management” explores the benefits of security compliance beyond formal regulatory compliance, emphasising its role in enhancing threat awareness and management. The whitepaper also guides organisations on how to detect deviations and implement robust security configuration systems in line with industry standards and data protection rules, ultimately aiming to improve overall security posture and business performance.
Security compliance involves adhering to a specific set of security requirements, typically established by regulatory authorities or laws, to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. These requirements, known as security controls, are applicable to any organisation that handles, processes, or transmits such data and are developed based on industry best practices and security guidelines. They establish the guidelines for implementing and configuring security measures to protect an entity's data.
Security compliance management is the process of continuously monitoring and evaluating systems, devices, and networks to ensure their compliance with the prescribed security requirements and industry standards. The security controls are derived from established best practices, such as the CIS Benchmark, and security guidelines.
Each organisation must have a clear understanding of the non-compliance and deviations within its IT assets to manage the potential risks of the ensuing attack surface. As an umbrella security management system that combines and uses other security processes, compliance management calls for an all-inclusive configuration that consists of several components:
Effective IT governance is crucial to define the scope of IT assets, assign roles and responsibilities for data processes, and track security controls. For organisations without a security compliance management system, this step is essential to monitor applicable regulations and regulatory changes. Absence of a governance foundation can result in poor enforcement power, unclear ownership, and uncoordinated security compliance assessments, and calls for proper involvement of the right stakeholders and functions.
Organisations need a process framework with a different perspective on IT monitoring, event management and incident management. Effective security compliance necessitates the continuous oversight of controls, processes, and regulations through policy implementation, regular internal assessments, and audits. Aligning security compliance processes with the business context is critical for information asset management and defining the compliance scope. Furthermore, it ensures the accountability of relevant stakeholders in cases of non-compliance.
Implementing software tools for automation of repetitive tasks enhances efficiency and allows specialists to focus elsewhere. Tools for compliance reports, updating changes in frameworks and regulations, and a centralised dashboard for assets and controls are beneficial, also for audits. Security configuration management software enables continuous monitoring of systems, while SOAR (security orchestration, automation and response) solutions offer a single platform for task coordination and automation.
To successfully establish a security compliance management system, it’s crucial to closely coordinate your resources, activities and people. We have developed an approach that can be applied to organisations at any point on their security compliance management journey: assessment – transformation – operation.
Security compliance management is crucial for maintaining an up-to-date understanding of your organisation's security status. It involves integrating various processes and requires a coordinated approach encompassing governance, process integration, and tooling. Fortunately, best practices and adaptable modalities are available to implement an effective security compliance setup tailored to your organisation's unique structures, capabilities, resources, and protection requirements.
The whitepaper also shows that a strong security compliance management system ensures a continuous high level of security, not just formal compliance with the regulations at the time of an audit. Establishing an effective security compliance management system is the best basis for maintaining good cyber hygiene and ensuring a streamlined audit preparation process.