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What Are the Business Benefits of GRC Integration

Nowadays the concept of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is of a great importance for many companies. With growing regulations and added organizational threats (both internal and external), GRC continues to become more valuable, as it allows organizations to achieve objectives, address uncertainties and operate with integrity. Integrated GRC demands that several roles work in harmony. Audit, risk management and compliance teams must come together to share information, data, assessments, metrics, risks and losses.

GRC as a discipline is aimed at collaboration and synchronization of information and activities. If implemented effectively, it enables stakeholders to predict risks with higher accuracy, and capitalize on the opportunities that truly matter. By adopting a federated GRC program, process owners at the business unit level can independently assess and manage their own risks and compliance requirements; at the same time, key risk and compliance metrics can be rolled up to the top of the organization for reporting and analysis.

  • Why should we integrate Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)?

Risk and compliance information in the right format, at the right time and in the right hands is crucial for the organisational success. It supports quick and informed decision-making, which can save an organisation from financial and reputational loss, data breaches, compliance violations and more. Stakeholders need to always be mindful of issues such as ineffective controls, unmitigated risks and policy conflicts. The path to achieving this objective lies in integrating GRC. Now that we know that integrated GRC solution is important, let us understand why it is essential.

  • Secures Assets

Assets in an organization can be anything, such as physical infrastructure, stored data, intellectual properties, data centers, human capital, e-assets, etc. Companies require their assets to be protected from all kinds of threats, such as natural calamity and cyber threats. There is a close competition between the data protectors and the data thieves. The point to be noted here is that as we develop more mechanisms to reduce cyber threats, cyber-crimes have evolved technologically as well. Government regulations and compliance standards help determine and implement controls to secure these assets. However, a centralized system and process that can monitor the smooth functioning of business in real time and raise a flag in case of any issue are essential to reduce the various risk exposures of the organization

  • Regulatory Changes and Control Implementation

Regulations are not simple and common anymore. Each country has different regulations in place and enforcement level of these regulations varies up to a large extent. For example, companies operating with North American health data needs to comply with HIPAA, whereas, companies dealing with European personal data needs to comply with GDPR. Since multinational corporations generally operate in different regions, implementing controls requires identifying commonality between different regulations and standards in order to ease the process of compliance. Hence, it becomes efficient to handle controls and control failures when the integration of GRC is done.

  • Cost Saving and Revenue Generation

Couple of years back, risk management and compliance were considered to be a part of the cost centre. Earlier, companies used to spend on GRC without understanding the financial benefits. Complying with standards was like a mere advantage and not a need. But the scenario has changed drastically today. GRC acts as a cost saver for the customers by ensuring automation of common processes and implementation of common controls to mitigate risks. From a service provider’s perspective, it acts as a revenue generator because GRC has become a necessity for all the customers and expert services are in huge demand.

  • Streamlined Management

Tracking down important information across multiple documents, computers, and/or storage methods is time-consuming and makes data and task management a bigger challenge than it has to be. Automating manual activities and developing repeatable processes and workflows, on the other hand, simplifies day-to-day GRC management tasks, reducing time and resource requirements and minimizing human error.

  • Greater Agility

Many organizations struggle with a lack of visibility into their business processes, vendor relationships, risk exposure, and other critical considerations for integrated risk management. Uniting analytics and reporting for these and other areas under one platform enables organizations to quickly analyze risks and opportunities and develop data-driven action plans. As a result, launching a new product or service, contracting with a new vendor, or responding to market changes becomes faster and more efficient.

Even though organizations may have different teams or managers handling ERM, vendor management, compliance, or business continuity, their management processes and data don’t have to be siloed. However, the benefits of GRC integration are only possible with a two-pronged approach of – strong policies and procedures for governance, risk, and compliance management, and  a flexible technology architecture that supports and enhances your GRC initiatives.

If your organization is looking for ways to tie those two pieces together, PATECCO is able to support you. We help businesses quickly implement a holistic, integrated GRC program using built-in best practices.

Why Segregation of Duties is Important for Information Security

When we talk about IT security, the first things that come to mind are programs such as firewalls or malware detection software. However, security is as much about the organization systems and process your company has in place as anything else. Of those organizational structures, one of the most important matter is how companies assign responsibility for certain IT-related tasks. This is called Segregation of Duties.

What is Segregation of Duties

Segregation of Duties is an internal control that prevents a single person from completing two or more tasks in a business process. Separation of Duties, as it relates to security, has two primary objectives. The first is the prevention of conflict of interest, the appearance of conflict of interest, wrongful acts, fraud, abuse and errors. The second is the detection of control failures that include security breaches, information theft and circumvention of security controls. Organizations require Segregation of Duties controls to separate duties among more than one individual to complete tasks in a business process to mitigate the risk of fraud, waste and error (for example in financial enterprises).

SoD processes break down tasks, which can be completed by one individual, into multiple tasks. The goal is to ensure that control is never in the hands of one individual, either by splitting the transaction into 2 or more pieces, or requiring sign-off approval from another party before completion.

Breaking tasks down prevents risks, however, it doesn’t come without other costs. For one, it can negatively impact business efficiency. Payroll management, for example, often faces error and fraud risks. A common SoD for payroll is to ask one employee to be responsible for setting up the payroll run and asking another employee to be responsible for signing checks. This way, there is no short circuit where someone could pay themselves or a colleague more or less than they are entitled to.

The Importance of Segregation of Duties

The concept behind Segregation of Duties is that the duty of running a business should be divided among several people, so that no one person has the power to cause damage to the business or to perform fraudulent or criminal activity. Separation of duties is an important part of risk management, and also relates to adhering to SOX compliance.

Segregation of Duties is recommended across the enterprise, but it’s arguably most critical in accounting, cybersecurity, and information technology departments. Individuals in these roles can cause significant damage to a company, whether inadvertently or intentionally. Therefore, finance and security leaders should pay attention to separation of duties. It is important to build a role with IT security capabilities so that no one can abuse it.

Segregation of Duties in IT security

The issue of separation of duties is of a great importance. A lack of clear and concise responsibilities for the CSO and chief information security officer has fuelled confusion. It is imperative that there be separation between the development, operation and testing of security and all controls. Similarly, if one individual is responsible for both developing and testing a security system, they are more likely to be blind to its weaknesses.

To avoid these situations, responsibilities must be assigned to individuals in such a way as to establish checks and balances within the system. Different people must be responsible for different parts of critical IT processes, and there must be regular internal audits performed by individuals who are not part of the IT organization, and report directly to the CEO or board of directors. SoD in the IT department can prevent control failures that can result in disastrous consequences, such as data theft or sabotage of corporate systems.

An important part of SoD implementation is the principle of least privilege, as well. Everyone should have the minimum permissions they need to perform their duties. Even within a certain IT system, individuals should only have access to the data and features they specifically require. Permissions should be regularly reviewed, and revoked in case an employee changed role, no longer participates in a certain activity, or has left the company.

SOD in risk management

Segregation of Duties is a fundamental internal accounting control prohibiting single entities from possessing unchecked power to conceal financial errors or misappropriate assets in their specific role. SOD controls require a thorough analysis of all accounting roles with the segregation of all duties deemed incompatible. For example, someone responsible for inventory custody can’t also oversee transactional recordkeeping regarding inventory.

SOD policies can also help manage risk in information technology by preventing control failures around access permission. By segregating workflow duties, your team ensures the same individual or group isn’t responsible for multiple steps in the access permission process.

When it comes to risk management in Governance Risk and Compliance, effective SOD practices can help reduce innocent employee errors and catch the not-so-innocent fraudulent filings. Both can elevate compliance risk by violating regulations like the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, penalizing companies for filing incorrect financial information capable of misleading investors

Including a Segregation of Duties control component in your risk management strategy helps reduce risks that can be costly to your organization – whether it’s financial, damage to your brand, or the stiff penalties imposed for regulatory infractions. By segregating duties to minimize errors and potential fraud, your organization can remain at or below its desired risk threshold.  Working with experienced cybersecurity experts is crucial for companies of all sizes, across all industries. That is why businesses have to take charge of their own protection and implement strategies designed to limit the damage a single attack is capable of.

How Cloud Access Control Enables Security and Innovation in the Digital Age (Part 2)

Each organisation should take into account that security must remain the cornerstone of the cloud deployment strategy. There are several forces driving big companies toward public clouds – reduced costs, scalability, reliability, efficiency and the ability to attract and retain technical staff. But in most cases, the success or failure of any project is measured by the level of security that is integrated to safeguard an organization’s data and that of its customers.

In the past two years, several high-profile security breaches have resulted in the theft or exposure of millions of personal customer data records. The headlines are a constant reminder of the disruptive impact on a business in the wake of a breach. Concern about the security of public cloud technology itself, however, is misplaced. Most vulnerabilities can be traced back to a lack of understanding of cloud security and a shortage of the skills necessary to implement effective security measures.

Security should need not altogether be viewed as an impediment to migration efforts, but it must not be swept aside due to pressure or demands from business units. While companies cannot prevent every attack, building cloud security awareness at the right levels of the organization from the outset is a first line of defence for blocking the malicious activity that often precedes a breach.

Which are the biggest security threats of the companies when using cloud technologies?

1. Data breaches

The risk of data breach is always a top concern for cloud customers. It might be caused by an attacker, sometimes by human error, application vulnerabilities, or poor security practices. It also includes any kind of private information, personal health information, financial information, personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and intellectual property.

2. Data Loss

Data loss may occur if the user hasn’t created a backup for his files and also when an owner of encrypted data loses the key which unlocks it. As a result it could cause a failure to meet compliance policies or data protection requirements.

3. Ransomware attack

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish the victim’s data or block access to it. The attack leaves you with a poor opportunity for get your files back.  One of them is to pay the ransom, although you can never be sure that you will receive the decryption keys as you were promised. The other option is to restore a backup.  

4. Account hijacking

It happens, when an attacker gets access to a users’ credentials, he or she can look into their activities and transactions, manipulate the data, and return falsified information.

5. System vulnerabilities
System vulnerabilities can put the security of all services and data at significant risk. Attackers can use the bugs in the programs to steal data by taking control of the system or by disrupting service operations.

6. Advanced persistent threats (APT)

An advanced persistent threat is a network attack in which an unauthorized person gets access to a network and stays there undetected for a long period of time. The goal of such kind of attacks is to steal data, especially from corporations with high-value information.

7. Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Denial-of-service attacks typically flood servers, systems or networks and make it hard or even impossible for legitimate users to use the devices and the network resources inside.

How does the Cloud Infrastructure protect the business from the dangers?

Nowadays most companies are still in a process of searching for the right formula and developing successful strategy to prevent all of the above mentioned threats.  What they should do is to adhere to strong security requirements and proper authorization or authentication.

In the report, “Assessing the Risks of Cloud Computing,” Gartner strongly recommends engaging a third-party security firm to perform a risk assessment.  Coding  technology is also a way to  give  no  chance  to  hackers to  hijack  your  computer  or spread ransomware infection. Data  is  encoded  in  your  computer  and  the  backup  data  is  uploaded directly to the cloud storage locations.

Another effective way to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and apps is to ensure secure access with modern, mobile multi-factor authentication. Cloud security is enhanced with compliance regulations which keep high standards of privacy and protection of personal data and information. In such situation PATECCO recommends organizations to focus on Cloud Access Control, Privileged Access Management, Role Based Access Control, GRC, SIEM, IGI.

It’s important to have a full understanding of the services available to protect your infrastructure, applications, and data. And it’s critical for teams to show that they know how to can use them for each deployment across the infrastructure stack. By implementing security measures across your deployments, you are minimizing the attack surface area of your infrastructure.