In an increasingly digital and connected world, organizations must protect their assets, maintain customer trust, and safeguard sensitive information. With statutory bodies doubling down on governance and asset visibility, organizations are under pressure to strengthen their cybersecurity governance. This includes but is not limited to adopting advanced practices such as IT General Controls (ITGC) and NIST 800-53 to ensure proper cyber security audit compliance.
For example, ITGC is essential for organizations to ensure the effectiveness, security, and reliability of their information technology (IT) estate at the base level. It helps organizations mitigate risks, prevent unauthorized access or data breaches, maintain data accuracy, and comply with regulatory requirements. For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR 2018) are some of the most influential regulations in the world to ensure cyber security and privacy. A robust cyber security audit against standard compliance regulations can enable organizations to adapt to evolving compliance requirements and enhance the security of their governance, operations, and management lifecycle.
An overview of governance and controls
Vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems and networks can often lead to data theft, unauthorized access, operational disruption, and data breaches. Sometimes setting up new procurements and applications could also leave gaps in security. An effective cyber security governance in place helps organizations ensure their systems are well-upgraded, tested, and protected at all times. Organizations must thoroughly monitor and assess the various controls to ensure compliance with evolving cyber security, data protection policies, and requirements. Let us have a look at some of the internal controls and their relevance in organizational security:
Access management: Employees who join an organization are assigned specific roles and responsibilities. The IT and HR teams collaborate to allocate and divide resources, networks, and assets among employees to achieve organizational goals. When employees’ roles change, or new resources are added, the IT team adjusts their access to resources like applications, systems, data assets, etc., to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and accountability. While biometric solutions take care of physical access to the IT assets, identity and access management solutions manage logical access to the IT assets, thus, creating a dynamic and complex access matrix. Managing this access matrix is challenging for organizations while sustaining their cybersecurity posture. The goal is to ensure that every employee has the right level of access required for their specific role.
Endpoint management: Employees access resources through endpoints such as computers, smart devices, equipment, etc. Unintentional omissions, errors, or malicious activity at endpoints can lead to digital gaps in an organization’s security posture. The IT team carries out a series of complex checks to sustain the posture through processes, tools, and technologies. IT managers must be vigilant and take proactive measures while integrating devices and equipment into the organizational network. Such measures include but are not limited to installing reliable anti-virus and encryption systems, regular patch management, and continuous control monitoring.
Patch management: Organizational applications are built with a collection of software components defined through software bill of materials (SBOM) and system software to meet business goals. Each component of the BOM needs validation and patching to ensure protection. Irregular patch management might lead to outdated security, leading to instances where attackers may infiltrate ERP systems with malware or ransomware. Patch management must include the identification and maintenance of key performance indicators (KPIs), service level agreements (SLAs) and operational level agreements (OLAs) as well as periodic compliance checks, peer reviews, and audits. Inputs compiled from such activities and outcomes are generally collated and displayed in interactive dashboards in reporting tools.
Deploying a managed security services provider (MSSP) can ensure a round-the-clock assessment of the IT assets, including efficient monitoring in the event of system changes, software upgrades, or organizational modifications.
Some best practices for governance and control:
Today, managed security services leverage novel technologies to help organizations streamline their security operations and augment human decision-making supplemented by analytics to derive contextual insights. Building on the importance of data enrichment and reporting from part 1 of this blog series, advanced technologies can also help enhance these capabilities. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help organizations improve data input, analysis, and reporting, leading to better audit quality. Organizations prioritizing future-proof governance and compliance should focus on designs that include the following types of controls for elevating audit quality:
Detective controls: IT managers must focus on securing endpoints on a granular level. A better way would be to optimize controls that can be used to detect errors, omissions, and deficiencies in internal controls.
Corrective controls: It is equally important for IT teams to focus on appropriate corrective action to ensure high data confidentiality, reliability, availability, and transaction processing capabilities.
Predictive control: Automated controls can help organizations adopt a proactive approach by identifying patterns, anomalies, and trends that could indicate risks or non-compliance.
Technical control: Including software and hardware components, technical controls are designed and deployed to protect data at rest and in motion. Decisions pertaining to the selection of controls and design depend on the understanding and experience of the technical control designers (part of MSSP), leading to the measure of its effectiveness.
Design-testing and effectiveness testing: Once organizations have optimized their internal controls, the next step is to shift them from the drawing board to the field. Further, to find out whether the design is right or wrong, the internal control designs undergo rigorous testing for effectiveness, with sampling done quarterly.
Governance is a vital component of MSSP services which provides a comprehensive assessment of security posture across the spectrum of security devices in any given organization. The evaluation encompasses SIEM-related compliance, vulnerability management, asset management, incident management, and business continuity.
Benefits of MSSP solution
HTC’s MSSP solution is powered by application programming interfaces (APIs) on AWS. It gives a 360-degree view of an organization’s data estate and security status in both on-premise and cloud-based environments. The ‘single pane of glass’ gives organizations a strategic advantage in data visibility and management while seamlessly aligning with business goals and ROI. The primary benefits include:
SIEM-as-a-service: The solution offers a collection of SaaS tools that provide real-time incident monitoring and threat detection. Through efficient automation, SIEM can help organizations monitor processes, adhere to rules, and ensure compliance.
Continuous monitoring: Our MSSP offers 24×7 automated screening of the IT estate, including gateways, file servers, and endpoint EDR logs. Data is then correlated across domains to screen for abnormal deviations or false positives.
Governance and compliance: When technologies and businesses evolve, so do data protection policies and frameworks. The MSSP solution can adapt to evolving operations and compliance standards. High-performance bots generate real user monitoring (RUM) reports that adhere to ITGC guidelines and are engineered to cater to GDPR implications that businesses might encounter in the coming years.
Vulnerability management: Cyber intelligence collated by SIEM tools is forwarded to a vulnerability management system, which uncovers potential threats or weaknesses across the IT estate. Such gaps are then eradicated using vulnerability assessments and sometimes penetration testing.
MSSP enables organizations to prevent statutory violations through efficient compliance reporting that helps organizations meet legal requirements and global standards. The solution also helps sustain security certificates, through which organizations can assure stakeholders of IT asset security.
Making customer journeys safer with MSSP
An ideal MSSP solution must support customer journeys through customized reporting to address governance risk and compliance needs, covering features like onboarding and lateral movements, apart from meeting specific industry compliance verticals. In the coming days, MSSPs are touted to add value to threat intelligence through expanded cloud-based and edge security capabilities. This will include next-gen SIEM and single-click compliance reports that can be set and downloaded on a weekly, quarterly, or monthly basis. It is time for organizations to embrace intelligent SIEM solutions to achieve sustainable and secure growth.
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