How security teams manage governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) with Tines

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With a growing list of regulations adding to the pressure on already-stretched security teams, it's no surprise that many organizations are rethinking their approach to governance, risk, and compliance (GRC). Even the best-resourced security teams struggle to balance meeting regulations with pursuing their individual goals around improving security posture. The good news is that workflow automation and orchestration can help - let’s find out how.

What is governance, risk, and compliance (GRC)? 

GRC stands for governance, risk (management), and compliance.

Governance: writing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure the organization reaches operational objectives.

Risk: identifying, assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating risks that could impact a company's ability to reach its objectives.

Compliance: Ensuring the company conforms to the laws, regulations, and standards it’s held to. This includes identifying and defining relevant policies, documenting decision trees and ownership, monitoring to identify breaches or failure to adhere to those policies, and communicating the impact of the policies and procedures to stakeholders. Compliance teams are often focused on adherence to frameworks like ISO 27001, NIST SP 800-53, SOC II, PCI, and HIPAA among others. 

While these three practices are often grouped together, they tend to be worked on by separate departments in an organization. These departments often have competing goals, and goals that compete with those of the broader security organization.

Many companies take an integrated approach to GRC, which can improve their overall efficiency and resilience.

Compliance is a fundamental baseline for many organizations but doesn’t guarantee security. While there is some overlap, today’s security leaders must recognize the need to go beyond what compliance frameworks call for to achieve an extra layer of protection and peace of mind against potentially devastating breaches.

Brandon Maxwell, Head of IT Operations and Information Security at Tines

6 common challenges with GRC management 

Let's take a closer look at some of the challenges that GRC analysts and managers face:

1. Increased regulatory complexity  

The regulatory landscape is constantly evolving, with new laws, regulations, and compliance requirements being introduced regularly. GRC teams must stay up to date on these changes and ensure that their organization complies with all relevant regulations. The complexity of regulatory requirements can pose challenges in interpreting, implementing, and maintaining compliance, especially for organizations operating in multiple jurisdictions or industries.

2. Data management and privacy concerns 

GRC teams grapple with the growing volume and complexity of data, including sensitive information subject to privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA. Ensuring data accuracy, integrity, and security while complying with privacy laws presents significant challenges. GRC teams must implement robust data management practices, including data classification, encryption, and access controls, to protect sensitive information and mitigate privacy risks.

3. Cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities  

The increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats pose significant risks to organizations' data, systems, and operations. GRC teams must address cybersecurity risks effectively by implementing robust security controls, conducting regular risk assessments, and monitoring for emerging threats. Balancing cybersecurity requirements with regulatory compliance mandates adds complexity to GRC efforts and requires a holistic approach to risk management.

4. Time and budget constraints 

Many GRC teams face time and budget constraints that limit their ability to implement comprehensive governance, risk, and compliance programs. Limited resources may result in gaps in compliance coverage, inadequate risk mitigation measures, and challenges in managing compliance-related tasks efficiently. GRC teams must prioritize activities, leverage automation and technology solutions, and advocate for adequate resources to address critical compliance and risk management needs effectively.

5. Cross-functional collaboration and communication 

Effective governance, risk, and compliance management require collaboration and communication across various departments and stakeholders within the organization. GRC teams often struggle to foster collaboration and alignment between business units, IT departments, legal teams, and executive leadership. Siloed information, competing priorities, and communication barriers can hinder GRC efforts and lead to fragmented risk management practices. Building a culture of collaboration and promoting cross-functional communication are essential for addressing GRC challenges effectively.

6. Balancing compliance requirements with other security goals  

As we discussed above, meeting compliance requirements can take resources away from other initiatives that are crucial to the organization’s success. How do teams strike the right balance between what they’re required to do and what they know will have the greatest impact on their business goals? The answer - orchestrated process that are well integrated.

Before implementing Tines, managing erasure requests was a fully manual and labour-intensive process, requiring a dedicated, full-time resource. This approach posed significant challenges for our team. Since automating the process with Tines, we have experienced a dramatic improvement in efficiency and innovation within our GRC team. The automation has significantly reduced the workload, positively impacting all related teams and underscoring the substantial transformation in our operations.

  • Steve Hayes, Head of Data Security, Holland and Barrett.

Managing GRC with workflow automation and orchestration: 4 key use cases 

Let’s explore some opportunities for automation and orchestration in governance, risk and compliance (GRC).

1. Streamlining compliance processes 

Automation and orchestration helps GRC teams streamline compliance-related activities such as regulatory research, policy management, control testing, and audit preparation. By automating routine tasks, such as data collection, analysis, and reporting, GRC professionals can free up time for more strategic work.

2. Enhancing risk management 

Risk identification, assessment, and mitigation can be facilitated by integrated processes for aggregating data from various sources, including internal systems, external databases, and threat intelligence feeds. Automated risk scoring and analysis enable GRC teams to prioritize risks effectively, allocate resources efficiently, and implement proactive risk management strategies to mitigate potential threats.

3. Improving policy enforcement and monitoring 

Automation aids in the enforcement and monitoring of policies and procedures by automating policy distribution, tracking employee compliance, and detecting policy violations. Automated alerts and notifications notify stakeholders of compliance deviations or policy breaches in real-time, enabling prompt remediation actions to be taken to address issues and maintain compliance.

4. Accelerating audit processes  

We can use integrated processes to optimize data collection, documentation, and analysis, reducing the time and effort required to conduct audits. Automated audit trails and reports provide auditors with comprehensive insights into controls, processes, and compliance status, facilitating smoother audit cycles and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Case study: Oak Ridge National Laboratory 

A federally-funded organization and pioneer in technological advancement, Oak Ridge National Laboratories looked for a solution that would help them accelerate their zero trust goals.

Key workflow:

Crucial to the organization’s zero trust strategy was the ability to connect systems that don’t normally talk to each other. Matt Lindsey, Defensive Cyber Operations Group Lead, tested Tines for the first time using three to four playbooks that the team uses on a recurring basis. The playbooks were nuanced and had lots of steps involved for things like evaluating the trustworthiness of an IP, but within days they had a process that was saving the team dozens of analyst hours per week. Previously, it would take them 20–30 minutes to get data from internal and external tools and put together a portfolio, but with Tines, this was done in seconds.

In their own words:

“Our zero trust strategy relies heavily on integration and automation. With Tines, we're able to quickly and easily build integrations and automated workflows across our tooling to ensure our zero trust-related processes are repeatable and reliable.“ - Maria Mcclelland, Chief Information Security Officer, Oak Ridge National Laboratories

Read the full case study.

Tines for GRC automation and orchestration 

What is Tines? 

Tines is a smart, secure workflow builder that powers the world's most important workflows, including security orchestration, automation, and response.

Security teams, including practitioners at Mars, McKesson, Snowflake, and Elastic use Tines workflows to operate more effectively, mitigate risk, and reduce tech debt to free up time and focus on the work that matters most.

Why security teams choose Tines for GRC automation 

  • Customers rely on Tines to automate a long list of compliance processes for frameworks, including SOC 1, SOC 2, GDPR, CCPA, PCI, CIS controls/SANS top 20, various NIST frameworks, ISO 270001, and different ISO and industry-specific standards.

  • Tines helps connect the dots between systems and plug GRC processes into the broader security automation and orchestration strategy.

  • Tines simplifies compliance procedures, allowing you to save time and resources and guarantee a systematic, consistent approach.

  • Tines helps streamline processes and reduce human error. Collecting relevant evidence to achieve compliance can be error-prone; the risk of pulling the wrong data is high. Automating security and compliance tasks allows for standardization, reducing the likelihood of human error. 

  • Tines workflows can improve visibility and understanding of your environment. Tines allows anyone on the team to build, run and maintain workflows, making it easier to verify that tasks are being done correctly.

  • Tines offers fast time to value for with a library of pre-built workflows for GRC.

GRC technologies commonly used with Tines 

While Tines can connect to any tool or system that offers an API, some tools are particularly popular for GRC. 

They include:

Pre-built workflows for GRC 

Let’s look at five pre-built workflows from the Tines Library, which are easy to import to your tenant and adapt to meet your unique needs.

Don’t have a Tines account? You can sign up for the always-free Community Edition. Free access includes three active workflows and 5000 daily events.

These workflows are just a sample of what you’ll find in the Tines library, which is home to 60+ pre-built workflows for GRC.

Getting started with automated GRC 

A growing number of regulations of increasing complexity can force security teams to choose between GRC and other security goals. Tines helps to embed GRC processes in the broader security automation strategy so these teams can do more with less. It's about more than just achieving compliance - with effective automation and orchestration, there are endless opportunities to make impactful improvements to your security posture.

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