Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is a coordinated approach in information technology that aims to align business objectives, risk mitigation, and compliance efforts. Without the synergy of GRC, an organization can accumulate financial losses, severe risks, and inefficiency problems.
Think of GRC as hitting three birds with one stone: governance, risk management, and compliance. There is strength in unifying all these essential corporate aspects.
Origin of Governance, Risk, and Compliance
In a 2007 publication, Scott L. Mitchell of the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) first mentioned the term “GRC” to describe “the integrated collection of capabilities that enable an organization to achieve objectives reliably, address uncertainty, and act with integrity.”
The research grouped corporate activities that monitor the overall challenge of the organization. The findings mentioned risks, compliance requirements, and governance issues as critical issues that a company must always address to sustain its success.
The initial motivation behind GRC emerged from the evolving nature of threats, compounded by the evolution of cybercriminals. At the same time, corporate decision-makers always faced the challenge of developing increased capabilities for the enterprise while making sure the company is compliant with government regulations.
These were all too much to juggle all at once. However, GRC made it easier to manage all essential aspects of the company with a structured and unified approach.
Governance refers to corporate management, mainly how senior executives direct the timeline and progress of the organization. GRC understands that management control is dependent on hierarchy and that vital facts must reach the executive team so that well-informed decisions.
Corporate decisions affect the control mechanisms of an organization. Governance will ensure that these directions and strategies have a cost-efficient and systematic execution.
2. Risk Management
Risk management is the corporate process that determines and analyzes potential threats and the damage they can cause to the company.
Ignoring risks can hurt achieving business objectives. The nature of threats is multi-faceted nowadays; here are some of the common dangers that several industries face:
- Financial risks
- Technological risks
- Information security risks
- Strategic risks
- Operational risks
The GRC approach integrates risk management to assess the gravity of a particular threat. Typical responses include avoiding or controlling the harmful effects of the risk.
Compliance is the process of following legal requirements to keep up with industry standards. The GRC approach outlines a set of management activities that track all criteria that a company must accomplish within a set deadline.
Legal provisions, government regulations, and active contracts typically compel organizations to follow guidelines on conducting their daily operations. These are in place to protect industries from abuse or exploitation.
The GRCapproach must assess the present state of compliance of the organization. In addition, evaluate the cost of non-compliance (penalties and fees) and other risks such as reputational damage and delay of operations.
If there are corrective actions that an organization must undergo for compliance, the GRC must also determine if these are necessary.
An organization must also update its existing policies and spread awareness to personnel about new legislation and amendments with which the company must comply.
One example of compliance with government regulations is how Department of Defense contractors must follow the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification guidelines.
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification
It is vital to protect the defense industrial base (DIB) of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) because of the essential nature of its data. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is essential to counter cybercriminals and other digital threat-actors who target the DIB.
The DOD implements the CMMC to create a standard for cybersecurity awareness and preparation that contractors can follow. There is sensitive state data within the database of the Department of Defense that cannot be left to chance. The CMMC acts as a shield to prevent criminal elements from hacking this critical content.
External contractors and service organizations who agree with the DoD must comply with the CMMC to sustain their partnerships. The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification has foundations from existing compliance requirements, namely the following:
- DFARS 252.204-7012
- NIST SP 800-53
- AIA NAS9933
- NIST SP 800-171
The requirements are strict. But a company that is using the GRC approach will find it easier to determine which Level of the CMMC the organization belongs to:
Level 1: Basic Cyber Hygiene for Practices and Performed for Processes
Federal Contract Information (FCI) must be safe under this Level. An organization must perform basic cyber hygiene activities such as installing antivirus software and empowering personnel with regular password changes.
FCI is “information not intended for public release, that is provided by or generated for the Government under a contract to develop or deliver a product or service to the Government.”
Level 2: Intermediate Hygiene for Practices and Documented for Processes
The CMMC differentiates Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) at this level. Organizations must have intermediate cyber hygiene practices to qualify at this level.
CUI is “any information that law, regulation, or government-wide policy requires to have safeguarding or disseminating controls,” compliant with the US Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Special Publication 800-171 Revision 2 (NIST 800-171 R2).
Level 3: Good Cyber Hygiene for Practices and Managed for Processes
Good cyber hygiene is the objective at this level, and an organization must prove that it has a management plan to protect the CUI.
The GRC must also comply with the security standards of NIST 800-171 r2.
Level 4: Proactive for Practices and Reviewed for Processes
This CMMC Level requires a mechanism for organizations to review and measure the effectiveness of their cybersecurity plan. The primary concern is the presence of APTs or advanced persistent threats. These are cyber-criminals with sophisticated expertise and resources to mount a complex digital attack.
Level 5: Advanced/Progressive for Practices and Optimizing for Processes
Prevention is better than cure. Level 5 requires organizations to have advanced capabilities to detect APTs before they occur. There must also be an intricate program in place to respond and defeat advanced cybercriminals.
The rationale of the CMMC
US Department of Defense contractors interact with high-level government information. If service organizations are the weakest link in the supply chain, cybercriminals can cause a lot of damage with the data they can steal. Therefore, the CMMC ensures that all DoD project partners have the same rigid security features as everyone else in the supply chain.
The first version of the CMMC began in January 2020 after a partnership between the following thought leaders:
- Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC)
- University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs)
- The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment
How GRC Improves CMMC
The CMMC has strict regulations that a service organization must accomplish to be a DoD contractor. GRC helps facilitate the information security of the company to achieve these strategic goals.
There are many effective software options to increase the productivity of GRC efforts. In addition, standards and frameworks are available to help service organizations determine the best GRC plan for them. The practical options in various industries include COSO, COBIT, and ITIL.
The COBIT framework refers to Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology. It is a supportive tool for corporate managers for IT management and governance. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) created COBIT to bridge gaps between corporate risks, control requirements, and technical problems.
COBIT is not limited to one industry. It is widely recognized and can be applied to any organization, making its versatility a significant advantage. As a result, COBIT can efficiently manage the reliability and quality of information systems.
The COBIT business perspective fuses business objectives with the information security infrastructure. The framework creates several metrics and maturity models to help organizations determine if their IT processes are reliable. There are four domains for this process-based model:
- Delivering and Support
- Planning and Organization
- Acquisition and Implementation
- Evaluation and Monitoring
The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) is the collaborative result of five private sector groups. They provide insights and guidance on internal control, enterprise risk management, and fraud prevention.
COSO focuses on the progression of enterprise risk management and the need for companies to improve their approach to risk management. Cybercriminals are more aggressive, and their technology is scaling up too.
Risk is present in both the strategy and performance of a company. The evolving demands of business environments make COSO essential in responding to governance, risk, and compliance challenges.
The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a compendium of best practices in information technology services. It is a collection of five books detailing the phases of the IT service lifecycle. Through the years, ITIL undertook several revisions to keep up with the evolving nature of cybersecurity.
The ITIL perspective can help corporate decision-makers manage risk, build a scalable IT environment, strengthen clientele interactions, and standardize cost-efficient practices.
The British government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) created ITIL during the 1980s. If you thought five books are a lot, wait until you know that the early version of ITIL is a collection of thirty books. The archives gathered all the best practices of information technology and helped several organizations with their GRC efforts.
How GRC Boosts the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification
GRC can significantly speed up the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification process because this approach helps organizations manage their resources efficiently.
The proper prioritization of Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance can help service organizations achieve the security requirements of CMMC. By complying with industry standards, CMMC-certified organizations can conduct business with the US Department of Defense with utmost confidence.
The US Department of Defense knows that their work will always be the target of cybercriminals. Thus, the CMMC will help service organizations retain their contracts by consistently proving to the US Government that they are not liable for cyber attacks.
The GRC can provide an overview to corporate decision-makers about aspects of their organization that may need remediation. Will it be specific to the risk management program? Will it be about the governance style of the company? Or are there compliance requirements that the organization may be overlooking? The GRC framework gives insights into issues senior executives must prioritize to get that elusive Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.
Expert Guidance for Governance, Risk, and Compliance
RSI Security is your trusted industry partner in implementing the Governance, Risk, and Compliance program. We recognize that corporate executives find it challenging to integrate governance, risk management, and compliance under one systemic approach. Accordingly, we are here to help you achieve cost efficiency and user-friendly impact on personnel and processes through GRC.
Our team will assist you with determining regulatory responsibilities and deflecting information risks. Here are some of the compliance activities that our GRC services can help you with:
- Information security assessments
- PCI DSS reviews
- Vulnerability evaluation
- Penetration tests
- Awareness training
Our recommendations come from years of expertise and experience to help you manage your risks and compliance needs. Our portfolio of security solutions will give you everything you need, from technology to training.
We are the premier cybersecurity and compliance provider to help your organization detect and destroy risks. The unique blend of our software-based automation and managed services can assist your company in IT governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC). Contact RSI Security for the most cost-efficient GRC package as you pursue Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification.
Set up an appointment with RSI Security to get the best Governance, Risk, and Compliance solutions.