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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 the Modern Identity Governance Solutions Enhance Security of the Digital Enterprises?

In times of progressive digital transformation, Identity governance is one of the most neglected branches of cybersecurity. That is why it is crucial for the enterprises to adopt or to update their current identity governance in 2022. And before implementing or updating such identity management tools, the companies should ask several important questions such as: How they ensure the permissions their users have are appropriate to their roles? Can enterprises prevent users from accumulating unnecessary privileges? How can enterprises improve their visibility into their users’ identities?

In case your corporation enterprise doesn’t take these questions into account, you may face challenges with external and internal threats. It is critical for the companies to be able to see, understand and govern their users’ access to all business applications and data. This turns identity into a business enabler for organizations, helping them to properly secure and govern all of their digital identities at the speed of business today.

Identity is not only a number of employees

When talking about identity governance, enterprises often think only about the individual users operating under their scope: their employees. That’s ok, but the corporations must bear in mind their contractors, partners, and other third parties when considering access management and identity governance in 2022. If all these groups of people have access to the network, their permissions should be as strictly controlled and monitored as any of your employees.

Furthermore, your identity governance in 2022 must extend beyond the identities of people including also the identities held by applications and software. These can move through your network and access data in much the same way a human user can. Allowing them free govern in your databases can only lead to serious issues. So, application identity governance tools are only going to become more important as cloud applications and cloud architecture continue to transform enterprises.

Identity Governance could be effectively combined with PAM

In fact, maintaining proper role management through identity governance in 2022 makes a key assumption. Specifically, the users logging in are the users to whom the account belongs.

Bad circumstances such as password sharing, stolen credentials, and phishing attacks can place your employees’ identities at severe risk; this applies doubly if the employees in question have significant administrative powers within the network. By incorporating robust privileged access management with your IGA solution, you can prevent hackers and insider threats from turning your role management against you. This can include implementing granular authentication, implementing multifactor authentication, and deploying behavioural analysis to observe discrepancies.

The benefits of modern Identity Governance solutions

Nowadays the benefits of modern Identity Governance solutions go beyond security. Modern Identity Governance solutions empower organizations with automated workflows that can streamline access requests, detect permission discrepancies, and handle temporary assignments to help your IT team prioritize other projects, thus, eliminating human errors. Organizations can also manage their non-employee identities e.g. – third-party vendors or partners without disruptions and ensure strict monitoring of their access in the network. Without proper identity access governance, it is challenging for organizations to assign and keep track of the applications and resources that identities have access to. Some organizations have hundreds, even thousands of applications.

Here are several important ways that identity access governance benefits your business:

  • Visibility

Let’s say it right: you can’t protect what remains unseen. That is why visibility represents the heart and soul of cybersecurity. Identity governance provides visibility and monitoring over employee and user permissions. Also, it helps IT admins get a high-level view of what’s happening across the IT environment, allowing them to quickly make changes and troubleshoot problems that could have easily become worse if left untreated.

  • Streamlined User Identity Lifecycle Management

When onboarding and offboarding, managers and IT personnel typically had direct physical access to the resources that they needed to manage and change, but now that’s not necessarily the case. This means that new solutions need to be leveraged to maintain the proper level of control over users, devices, networks, and other IT resources, and this is where an IGA solution becomes integral.

  • Enhanced Compliance and Security

Identity governance also helps businesses meet their compliance needs. Almost all IGA solutions provide out-of-the-box compliance reports for easy fulfilment; additionally, it can often fill those reports automatically, alleviating a burden on your IT security team. The modern Identity Governance solution reduces risk and improves compliance and security by managing access control in a comprehensive and streamlined manner. By using tools that streamline user identity lifecycle management, your organization is at less risk for the wrong users having access to confidential information, and you have higher visibility into what different users do and do not have access to.

  • Risk Management

IGA solutions enable a robust approach to managing and governing access by focusing on three aspects of access. First, they practice least privilege access, eliminating excess privileges and granting access to only those who absolutely need it in order to do their jobs. Secondly, they terminate “orphaned” accounts as quickly as possible. These accounts that are no longer being used, either because an employee is no longer with the company, or any other reason, are perfect targets for those looking to breach the environment. Finally, IGA solutions monitor for segregation of duty (SoD) violations. This critical risk management concept dictates that no single individual should be able to complete a task, creating a built-in system of checks and balances.

With these clear, measurable benefits, it’s easy to see why Identity governance solutions are quickly becoming an essential component in many organizations’ security strategy. Identity governance in 2022 will not be a panacea. It must be a part of a comprehensive cybersecurity platform, made of well integrated and well-thought-out solutions.

PATECCO launches a new Whitepaper – “Digital workspace compliance through Managed Services for Privileged Access Management to effectively prevent insider threats and data loss”

Privileged Access Management (PAM) is one of the most important areas of risk management and security in any business. The constantly changing business practices and the digital transition more and more provoke the necessity of PAM solutions. They reduce the risk of cyber attack and secure digital business with privileged access management, application control and endpoint privilege security.

Known with its expertise in PAM, PATECCO launches a new whitepaper – “Digital workspace compliance through Managed Services for Privileged Access Management to effectively prevent insider threats and data loss”. The Whitepaper contains useful information about PAM functions and capabilities, the latest trends in PAM implementation and explains in details why Privileged Access Management should be the highest cyber security priority of enterprises.

Click on the book image to read the new Whitepaper:

How Does Identity Governance Achieve Security and Compliance?

Nowadays, in the era of Digital Transformation, more and more organizations and people are using the new technologies of smart devices, cloud computing and social media to shop, to buy or deliver services and for other commercial purposes. In this hyperconnected world, Electronic Identities (IDs) provide the opportunity for organizations to know their customers and at the same time to secure information systems and sensitive data. Both objectives are successfully achieved by Identity Governance process.

Simply explained, Identity governance is a policy-based centralized orchestration of user identity management and access control. Identity governance helps support enterprise IT security and regulatory compliance. Organisations are facing rising demands and compliance regulations while managing the access and support of many devices and systems that carry critical data.

What Does Identity Governance Perform?

Identity Governance and Intelligence solutions help companies to create and manage user accounts and access rights for individual users within the enterprise. In this way the companies conveniently manage user provisioning, password management, access governance and identity repositories. IGI Solutions also enable companies to make sure that they take appropriate actions to meet compliance challenges. They help conduct a more accessible and useful review process with a reporting ability to meet significant government and industry rules. Besides, IGI solutions perform a great visual approach, allowing the users to witness privileges and certifications in a user friendly and graphical display.

  • Role Management

Key capability of identity governance and intelligence solution is role management, which is deeply tied into the Principle of Least Privileges. This Principle states employees and users only have the minimum permissions necessary to fulfil their job functions. Furthermore, role management allows your IT security team to monitor permissions and privileges on each user’s account. With the availability of the visibility, the security team can remove any unnecessary permissions they detect.

  • Centralized Access Requests

Without centralizing the access requests, the IT security team must handle each request manually, which is hard and time-consuming process. To avoid such situation, identity governance solution should include a centralization portal for all access requests. This portal helps you to connect all of the applications in your IT environment. Besides, the administrators can monitor the usage of the special permissions and can submit and process access requests, approvals, and denials in more efficient manner.

  • Identity Lifecycle Management

In identity and access management, Identity Lifecycle Management refers to the processes utilized in creating, managing, and removing a user identity from your network. Without the right permissions, your employees cannot perform their jobs properly and providing the wrong permissions could create cybersecurity issues. That is why Identity Governance solutions can help your IT security team onboard and offboard permissions efficiently and with securely.

  • Managed Services

It is crucial for the security of the enterprise to protect and monitor the permissions of your third party-users and applications, vendors, customers, and partners. Each of these identities requires identity governance to operate securely. In case your enterprise’s IT security team is not able to handle governing all of these users, your IGI solution provider can help you manage these tasks remotely. By the help of managed services, it is possible to provide 24/7 identity monitoring and to process the role management, compliance reporting, and access request features.

What Challenges Does Identity Governance Address?

  • Compliance

With regulations like the GDPR, SOX, and HIPAA industries pay attention to access issues more than ever. The security measure to limit and to monitor the access to those that need it, is not enough. Now it is becoming critical to stay in compliance with these regulations, as well.

IGI solutions not only ensure that access to sensitive information (such as financial data) is strictly controlled, but they also enable organizations to prove they are taking these actions. Enterprises can receive audit requests at any time. A good IGI solution makes the required periodic review and attestation of access business friendly, effective, and comes with built-in reporting capabilities to meet the government and industry regulations. Taking a visual approach to the data makes the whole process more accurate and easier to deploy to the business.

  • Risk Management

IGI solutions reduce the exposure of sensitive data by limiting and guarding access to information. They enable a robust approach to managing and governing access by focusing on three aspects of access:

First, they practice the principle of least privilege, eliminating excess privileges and granting access to only those who need it in order to do their jobs. Secondly, they terminate “orphaned” accounts as quickly as possible. These accounts that are no longer being used (because of an employee dismissal or some other reason) are perfect targets for cyber criminals aiming to breach the environment. Finally, IGI solutions monitor for segregation of duty (SoD) violations. This critical risk management concept dictates that no single individual should be able to complete a task, creating a built-in system of checks and balances.

  • Business Changes

Companies develop and change constantly and IGI solution makes these changes more efficient and less risky. IGI solutions provision access based on roles, and not on individual accounts, that’s why the strategy of Role Based Access Control (RBAC) works equally well for small changes (like individual promotions or transfers) and large changes (like mergers, acquisitions, and corporate reorganizations). IGA solutions efficiently shorten the timeline for executing bulk additions or transitions of user accounts by automating and streamlining provisioning and approvals.

Considered as a part of Identity and Access Management (IAM), Identity Governance offers organizations increased visibility of identities and access privileges of users. That gives them the opportunity to effectively manage who has access to what systems and when. Identity governance empowers the business to do more with less, meet increasing audit demands, and make the companies more secure, while enabling them to develop at the same time.

Why Privileged Access Management is Essential for all Businesses

Privileged Access Management is principal to controlling access and delivers the required balance between system administrators and users. In contrast to Identity Management solutions, often confused with PAM, a Privileged Access Management solution offers a secure way to authorise, track, and protect all privileged accounts across all relevant systems, which ensures absolute control and visibility. That process allows the organisation to control users’ access and it is considered to be its most valuable asset. This process also proves the fact that PAM is one of the most important areas of risk management and data security in any enterprise.

In a time of digital transformation, business models are constantly changing which leads to more numerous and widespread privileged accounts. When they are not managed securely, businesses are exposed to the risks of abandoned accounts, unmanaged shared accounts. That is a favourable situation for criminals and hackers to steal and to use credentials for privileged accounts to gain access. To reduce this risk, implementing a cost effective PAM solution is essential.

The modern PAM implementations focus on implementing and maintaining a least privilege model and monitoring activity with advanced data security analytics. Least privilege gives users the access they need to do properly their job. Monitoring and data security analytics detect changes in behaviour that could indicate external or insider threats at work. Those two paradigms keep your business well protected.

Why is Privileged Access Management Important?

According to Gartner’s 2019 Best Practices for Privileged Account Management, a quality PAM solution should be based on four pillars: Provide full visibility of all privileged accounts, Govern and control privileged access, Monitor and audit privileged activity and Automate and integrate PAM tools. In this article, we list the most essential features that can help you secure privileged access to your company’s sensitive data according to these four pillars.

#1 Enhanced security with Multi-factor authentication

MFA feature is a necessary measure for making sure that only the right people have he right access to the critical data. It also prevents insider threats by mitigating the risk of malicious insiders “borrowing” passwords from their colleagues. Most MFA tools offer a combination of two factors: Knowledge (user credentials) and Possession. Validation techniques such as E-mail OTP, SMS OTP, biometrics, soft taken, challenge-response questions, etc. add an extra layer of security to the passwords making it almost impossible for hackers to decode it.

#2 Session management

A lot of security providers offer Privileged Access and Session Management (PASM) as a standalone solution or as a part of their privileged account management software. The capability to monitor and record privileged sessions provides security specialists with all needed information for auditing privileged activity and investigating cybersecurity incidents.

The main challenge here is to associate each recorded session with a particular user. In many companies, employees use shared accounts for accessing various systems and applications. If they use the same credentials, sessions initiated by different users will be associated with the same shared account. To deal with this case, you need a PAM solution that offers a secondary authentication functionality for shared and default accounts. So if a user logs in into the system under a shared account, they will be asked to provide their personal credentials as well, thus allowing to confirm that this particular session was started by this particular user.

#3 Quick detection of cyber risks

The security provided to privileged accounts is quite strict. As soon as any suspicious activity is detected the response comes immediately. That’s the reason why the incidences of data breaches and cyber attacks on privileged accounts are relatively less.

#4 Real-time privileged session monitoring and recording for detecting suspicious activity

The earlier the attack is stopped, the lesser the consequences will be.  In order to be able to respond to a possible security incident in a timely manner, you need to be notified about near to real-time.. Organizations with real-time privileged session monitoring and recording can detect suspicious activity the moment it occurs and automatically terminate such sessions hence reducing potential damages. Besides, session monitoring and recording enable for hackerproof storage of searchable audit logs which prevent privileged users from deleting their history or even editing them.

Most PAM solutions offer a set of standard rules and alerts. For instance, responsible security personnel will be notified every time the system registers a failed login attempt for a privileged account.

# 5 Comprehensive reporting and audit

A well-designed Privileged Access Management solution keeps a track of who is accessing the accounts, the number of times passwords change or updates are requested, how many times the accounts are being accessed, etc. A detailed report is generated and gives the organization a clear insight into the usage and security of the privileged account.

You should also be able to form different types of reports according to your specific needs and requirements. The best option is to get a full report about all activities performed underprivileged accounts or privileged sessions that were initiated out of the usual work hours.

# 6 PAM Enables Fast Track to Compliance

To comply with the standards of the organizations that handle regulations, you should have strong policies which cover privileged accounts, revoking of privileged accounts, audit usage, the security of logins for privileged accounts, and changing of the vendor default passwords amidst many other security control essentials. A PAM solution allows the organization to take control of the management and monitors the security of privileged accounts to meet the standards of the access control demands for a good number of the industry regulations.

Privileged access management remains a crucial element in the security infrastructure for all organizations as it offers solutions and benefits useful for defence against data threats. With privileged access management, companies can solve all potential dangers that might target their data. Here’s why PAM should come first for any business.