[4 minute read]
“How can we reduce spending while attaining the same security and compliance goals?”
While this has been a popular question in recent conversations with CISOs, we’ve been advising security and compliance professionals on this topic for over a decade.
And when we dig a bit deeper, we’re often surprised at how much time, effort, and resources organizations waste on security and compliance without ever realizing it.
Save time and resources on your security program
Serious security professionals can take these five practical steps right now to streamline their security compliance program and optimize efficiency:
1. Move away from an annual audit process.
Each year, organizations waste time and money by relying on an annual audit process for their security and compliance. They rush to gather evidence from previous years or other audits at the last minute, unaware that they already possess some of the required information. As the organization grows, these extra efforts accumulate, resulting in thousands of unnecessary expenses. Operationalizing security programs with overarching processes throughout the year can save significant costs.
2. Align your integrated tech stack with company goals.
Integrations can seem like a time-saver, but auditors may ask you to clarify the data and its purpose. Increasing the number of integrations you use without enough thought can make your organization more vulnerable to attack. The CISOs we talk to are open to the idea of integrating their tech but are challenged with how to make it work for them productively.
For example, when data from third-party systems are integrated into a GRC or security and compliance platform, security professionals must first understand:
- How do they know which SaaS tools should be integrated and prioritized?
- Which controls are in compliance and which ones must be addressed/fixed?
- What steps must be taken to address non-compliant controls?
Reviewing the information that is imported to their data security platform, and only importing necessary information, will help streamline their compliance process and reduce their attack surface. When each integration point is purposeful, organizations can save time and effort in their compliance planning.
3. Include all employees, not just the IT team, in the security and compliance process.
Some organizations attempt to reduce costs and effort by only involving a select few to utilize their compliance and data security tools, but in reality, they are opening up their organization to security issues.
As famous hacker and cybersecurity expert, Kevin Mitnick said, “Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption, and secure access devices and it's money wasted because none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain: the people who use, administer, operate and account for computer systems that contain protected information.”
Research in 2023 shows 74% of breaches are attributed to "human error." Combine this with the rise of sophisticated phishing attacks, and it becomes clear that involving every employee in the security and compliance program, coupled with regular training, is vital. This proactive approach not only saves thousands in the long term but also speeds up audit preparation.
4. Understand there’s no “Easy Button” in Security and Compliance.
While using an “easy button” is tempting for many projects, there’s no such thing when it comes to compliance for complex audits like SOC 2, HITRUST, and ISO 27001. Simple automation tools are not an option for serious security professionals.
At Ostendio, we regularly speak to organizations who have tried a cheap and fast audit route and quickly regretted their choice. The most common security audits like SOC 2, HITRUST, and ISO 27001 are constructed in a complex manner for a reason. If you pass one of these audits, you are demonstrating to customers and partners that you take security seriously. Doing it right the first time will save your organization money in the long run.
In your search for streamlined audit preparation, consider tools that provide efficiency, like crosswalking evidence across various frameworks. However, beware of hidden costs for each additional framework. Opt for a platform that offers both functionality and economical scalability, granting access to a wide range of frameworks under one transparent price.
5. Educate C-level executives and board members on the importance of data security and compliance
When implementing a people-first approach to security and compliance, a top-down approach is critical to success. With recent examples of C-level executives being held accountable for data security practices, it is more critical than ever for organizations to understand the return on their security and compliance investments. Recent research shows “Just 69% of responding board members see eye-to-eye with their chief information security officers (CISOs). Fewer than half (47%) of members serve on boards that interact with their CISOs regularly, and almost a third of them only see their CISOs at board presentations. This means that directors and security leaders spend far from enough time together to have a meaningful dialogue about cybersecurity priorities and strategies.” CISOs need to improve their relationship with their C-level executives to raise awareness and understanding about cybersecurity issues facing their organization. Start by reviewing the ROI that your current security platform offers and scheduling time to discuss it with your C-level executives.
By taking some simple steps to operationalize their security and compliance programs, organizations can save money by moving to a more people-focused approach.
Meeting the needs of your ongoing security program
Another common concern we regularly hear from CISOs and CEOs revolves around the challenges of hiring experienced cybersecurity professionals. Budget-strapped organizations can scale budgets by partnering with an external virtual compliance manager. While this option offers many benefits, including cost-effectiveness, expertise on demand, and flexibility, don’t commit to any partnership without taking the aforementioned five steps.
Speak to the experts
Is it time for you to seek professional guidance and oversight of your cybersecurity compliance program by a team of experts with decades of combined expertise? Ostendio Professional Services offers a virtual compliance manager service to help organizations with their overall security program. By using the Ostendio platform, your organization can manage compliance with over 200+ frameworks, crosswalking evidence to multiple frameworks.
Speak to an expert at Ostendio to learn more about how using the Ostendio platform could save your organization money, including up to 80% on audit preparation costs.