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Protect your IT assets: How IT compliance strengthens IT security

These are challenging times for IT departments today. On the one hand, they must deal with increasing threats of cyberattacks on their IT assets, while at the same time having to comply with a myriad of IT regulations and industry standards: PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, NIST, ISO 27001, COBIT, GDPR, just to name a few.

As if this was not enough, IT professionals also have to support the acceleration of business digitization while coping with additional risks linked to the instant generalization of remote working due to the current lasting pandemic.

The perfect IT storm of new threats

If we add on top of that already packed agenda, the pervasive use of mobile device (BYOD), IoT, AI, Analytics, etc., a perfect IT storm seems to be looming on the horizon. A storm that probably haunts the dreams of most CIO or CISO with a combination of sensitive data theft, international media coverage, loss of public trust, and culminating with a hefty fine for failure to meet or follow IT regulatory standards.

That dream, or nightmare, probably now feels very real for some organizations as frequently reported in the media. The reality is that in fast changing, complex and hyperconnected environments, every organization can be a victim of cyberattacks or IT disruptions and find themselves on tomorrow’s headlines for IT negligence with dire consequences.

The increased need to protect IT assets

With such high stakes, IT security has become a top priority across organizations all the way up to the C-suite. This trend is likely here to stay for some time and for very valid reasons. The main one being that almost every business relies on a combination of digital assets powered by data. Hence, this data needs to be properly managed, stored and secured, and failure to do so guarantees regulatory fines, negative media coverage, and loss of revenue.

But ensuring data security and integrity, which is obviously paramount, is only one part of the equation. Organizations need to protect their IT assets. In fact, cyberthreats can affect production and service capabilities resulting in substantial operational disruptions with potential loss of market value and opportunities, or even more serious consequences when the targets are hospitals or health facilities as illustrated by recent ransomware scams.

How can IT compliance help IT security?

In such a challenging context, how can IT professionals ensure that their IT assets and data are effectively protected? One possible answer to that question lies in adhering to the various regulations and industry standards in place.

Designed to ensure customer data security, investor protection or fraud prevention, regulatory requirements such as SOX for financial reporting, or HIPAA for the health care industry, are mandatory guidelines that organizations must follow to avoid regulatory fines and reputation damages.

In addition to those legislations, industry associations have further developed their own IT security standards. Typical examples include PCI DSS for the process and storing of credit card information, NIST and their Cybersecurity framework, and the 27001 international standards on information security by ISO.

But those regulatory requirements and industry standards were mostly perceived as a hindrance to the business. However, the recent proliferation of cyberattacks, both in number and scale, coupled with the rising costs of IT have been a game-changer. This led organizations to quickly realize that by adopting those legislations and standards, they have a tremendous opportunity to develop their IT infrastructure and applications.

Indeed, compliance with regulations and standards provides companies with a practicable framework to strengthen IT security and resiliency by applying mandatory and recommended IT guidelines on their IT landscape.

Managing IT regulatory standards complexity

Nevertheless, organizations, especially if they operate on a distributed environment and on a multi-jurisdictional level, struggle at this stage to:

  • Identify the completeness of regulations and standards applicable to them

  • Manage conflicting legislations across jurisdictions

  • Extract and decrypt the various directives in an intelligible and workable format

  • Collaborate on compliance efforts to avoid task duplication, increased costs, and fatigue

That is where the use of an IT regulatory content aggregator like UCF becomes very handy. It accelerates the import and process of applicable regulatory standards by delivering them in a standardized format with all the necessary IT control directives required. IT departments can then easily identify collaboration opportunities and keep compliance costs under control.

Once they have been identified and retrieved, IT regulatory requirements and industry standards need to be distributed across the company’s IT assets to measure the infrastructure security and compliance status and enable the resulting necessary mitigation activities.

Having full visibility on IT assets

IT assets are often scattered across the organization and managed in isolation using different point solutions, making surveillance of the IT ecosystem cumbersome. This hinders the risk mitigation process as well as the organization’s capacity to swiftly stop cyber incidents when they occur.

That is why managing IT risks efficiently requires having full visibility of the company’s IT assets across multiple dimensions, often resulting from a joint effort across disciplines like IT architecture, IT security, and IT compliance.

The consequence of this combined action is a complete mapping of the IT inventory including applications, technology, and data used and all their related flows to quickly identify areas of concerns and visualize potential propagation effects.

This technique not only benefits the IT security risk discovery process by exposing server segmentation or SOD across the network or the full data management lifecycle. It also helps meet the various compliance reporting standards by removing IT complexity in case of examinations.

Organizations already equipped with this comprehensive view benefit from a good head start in protecting their IT assets. They can quickly analyze and prioritize their efforts based on their expertise and the IT asset criticality to the business, and also assign accountabilities to ensure proper tasks attribution.

Combining regulatory standards with IT asset

To manage and effectively monitor IT security across an organization, it is key to allocate IT requirements and standards coming from UCF to the centrally mapped IT assets. Achieving this step is crucial because it is the keystone of IT compliance that supports the whole assessment and mitigation process that must follow.

Indeed, the IT controls put in place have to be regularly tested through continuous monitoring to ensure their robustness at protecting the organization from threats and deficiencies. Issues need to be identified for swift remediation with full traceability from the control through the regulatory standards down to the impacted IT assets.

However, IT compliance must not be treated as an isolated exercise. Instead, it should be considered as an integral component in the organization global ERM strategy allowing IT professionals to encapsulate their perspective to the overall business view of risks. This in return helps Management make better informed decisions based on full transparency of the current IT security and compliance status, as well as supply Regulators with full documentation and the audit trail in case of regulatory examination.

By adopting IT compliance, organizations are better armed to ensure the security and legality of their IT assets and safeguard their sustainability and reputation. IT compliance provides organizations with a sound approach to better manage their IT landscape and avoid being the next case on tomorrow’s headlines for IT negligence.

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(See the full article here: MEGA)


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