Taking a holistic approach to compliance issues and data breaches will help to prevent damage to your company’s reputation and bottom line, leveraging both preventative and reactive strategies. By understanding the challenges and implementing proven strategies, you can take effective steps to mitigate risk, and effectively respond when incidents occur.
Before we talk about strategies, let’s understand the challenge. According to IBM, the cost of a data breach now averages $4.35m, rising to over $9m in the US. However, it’s important to remember the consequences are not just directly financial. These can include:
- Reputational damage—loss of goodwill with customers, or brand deterioration
- Legal consequences—penalties from regulatory agencies, or criminal charges
- Loss of intellectual property—exfiltration of IP can damage competitiveness and create downstream security risks
Data breaches often have second and third-order effects on a business’ suppliers and customers, as a supply-chain risk. Set against this, the compliance and regulatory environment is constantly evolving, calling for concerted action to make sure requirements are met within strict time limits.
What does this mean for IT? Alongside these risks and requirements, rising complexities from ongoing hybrid work, diversifying hardware/software usage (such as the rise of macOS), more applications, and persistent shadow IT presents significant challenges.
Compliance best practices and strategies
How do we solve these challenges? It’s best to break this down into two main areas—preventative strategies to mitigate risk, and sensible preparations to respond effectively when incidents do occur. Overall, all these steps fall into three broad categories: people, process, and technology. These three areas need to work together to be successful.
First, let’s look at some preventative steps:
- Have a compliance program. Set clear requirements based on compliance and regulatory needs, with clear policies, procedures, and controls to meet these requirements
- Set IT standards and manage them. Establish standardized device configuration baselines, deployment, and monitoring of security software, along with automated remediation of any configuration drift
- Train and educate your users. Educating users on the importance of compliance and data security is pivotal. Training to reduce the risk of phishing or other social-engineering methods, can significantly reduce risks
- Foster a compliance culture. Take steps to foster a culture that values and understands the importance of compliance to the company’s success. This could include incentivizing behavior for such activities as reporting risks or incidents
- Consider engaging third-party experts. Even if you have in-house expertise, engaging third-party pen-testers and security consultants can help identify additional and often ‘out-the-box’ risks previously missed. It could otherwise validate that you have a good handle on your risk and remediation strategies
- Review and update your prevention strategies. Regularly review and update your strategies, as the compliance and security environment are constantly evolving
Of course, security is never 100% guaranteed in any environment. Along with prevention, it’s also crucial you’re prepared to react effectively when compliance issues and data breaches occur:
- Define clear roles and responsibilities. When an incident occurs, it should be clear who the incident response team is, and what activities they should be carrying out. Importantly, this should be cross-departmental, so departments across the business can support response efforts, and remain informed
- Develop a communications plan. There should be a plan on how communications will occur with other stakeholders, both internally and externally. Due to the time-sensitive nature of compliance issues and data breaches, it’s also important to map out the necessary approvals to ensure effective external communications
- Build out a process for response and remediation. Along with building a team and having a communications plan, establish runbooks and steps to take to respond, contain, and remediate incidents when they occur
- Map out third-party assistance. Depending on the severity of the incident, you may need outside expertise. Map out these requirements beforehand to facilitate prompt action when needed
- Have the right tools for the job. Make sure you have the right technology to query information from your IT estate and take prompt remediation steps. This is critical to tackle incidents, resolve them as quickly as possible, and verify their success. Tools such as 1E Endpoint Automation can leverage policies to automatically detect and remediate common compliance issues such as configuration drift or required security software not being installed. Others like 1E Endpoint Troubleshooting equip incident response teams with capabilities to investigate incidents effectively and implement fixes at scale, in minutes
Addressing compliance issues and reducing the risk of a data breach is never easy. It’s common to face numerous internal challenges, ranging from lack of budget/resource, limited buy-in, and competing business priorities. To overcome these, consider the following steps:
- Emphasize that compliance is an investment, not a cost. Focus on demonstrating to relevant stakeholders that compliance can prevent much larger financial (and non-financial) impacts if an incident does occur
- Break the problem down. Depending on your compliance program maturity and risks, you may have more or less work to do. Either way, stack-rank and prioritize your work—including into iterations or phases—to make investments more palatable and prevent too much change occurring at once
- Elevate as an executive conversation. Take steps to make sure executives understand how mitigating compliance risk can support the company strategy, and help with getting compliance efforts prioritized
In today’s evolving threat landscape and regulatory environment, compliance is more important than ever. Tackling these numerous challenges involves the effective use of people, processes, and technology such as the 1E Platform to implement effective proactive and reactive compliance strategies. Check out how the 1E Platform can support your compliance strategy today.