Risk management can be an overwhelming, tedious process, but it doesn’t have to be. There are abundant technology solutions available to incorporate automation across manual processes to increase efficiency and deliver previously unattainable insights.
Streamline Risk Identification
How do you track and map your organizational assets to identify and assess your risk appetite? It’s essential to build a dynamic hierarchy of data, but when it comes to maintaining and updating this information, scheduled IT reviews or audits do not keep up with the fast pace in which businesses operate today. Using integrations, workflows, and conditional logic, your GRC solution can house a dynamic ecosystem of data reflective of near real-time processes and circumstances within your business.
Most organizations utilize assessments to provide context-rich questionnaires to first-line business units. Assessments are a proven industry-standard of an effective means to collect and measure risk. The more significant problem with this method is keeping the assessment in a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets are efficient until they are not. The data is siloed apart from your GRC solution until an internal stakeholder manually migrates the data from a static source and evaluates the individual answers to assign a risk score. Dynamic assessment tools based on a flexible GRC infrastructure can be purpose-built with context-rich questions aligned to your risk scoring methodology to automatically identify risk and update or assign a risk score based on the answer provided.
Other sources to consider include incidents, additional enterprise software solutions, and external sources such as regulatory updates, company breach announcements, and changes in enforcement actions.
Evolving Technology and Threat Landscape
The digital transformation has led to an explosion of technology solutions from niche productivity and communication tools to enterprise solutions and security and risk management softwares. Today, the breadth of technology applications used within an organization is extensive. Security is a particularly complex perspective. The threat landscape of an organization is always changing due to both internal and external factors, leaving organizations exposed to harmful events.
The connected and extended means in which organizations operate have created many pathways for threat events to occur. To combat the breadth of the threat exposure possibilities, the technology offerings within security have exploded. Software applications and professional service programs are available across the board with varying capabilities to tackle any identified angle of cybersecurity.
Due to the sliding scale of business dynamics and evolving vulnerabilities, a single solution rarely offers every desired security function a business requires. The amount of overlap between solutions is extensive. Enterprise solutions often over invest in software to cover all their bases. In effect, the over-investment is overcorrecting in an attempt to solve for the uncertain possibilities. These organizations end up with multiple applications in place across their business to address the same issue.
The overwhelming perspectives and number of security solutions on the market is a complicated ecosystem for businesses to navigate. Thoughtful considerations of where to connect and what practices should be stand-alone is a process that can leave companies feeling exposed as they strategize on the best product suite for their needs.
Many software solutions claim to be extendable with the ability to easily connect to various data sources. Facilitating the opportunity to connect and integrate business functions across systems. Executing this connected infrastructure typically puts most of the work back onto the business with requiring API development. Writing to API technology translates into custom development for any solution.
Connected Data and Initiate RPA for Risk Remediation Tasks
Connecting systems from a real integration platform should be as simple as a click of a button, not custom code. The ability to select an application and map specified fields tied to conditional logic to power data transfers is a powerful tool to optimize your system use and eliminate manual system maintenance. Applying this type of robotic process automation is something that can amplify the synergies between software applications and improve the value to your business, providing a productive, connected software infrastructure.
Some examples of this connectivity include syncing your GRC platform and your configuration management database (CMDB) while using scanning tools across other enterprise applications in use. Although your CMDB should be a source of truth, in practice, it provides only a single perspective. Most security and compliance teams do not feel confident reporting solely or directly from their CMDB. By integrating into your GRC and applying added system identification, you can effectively maintain your CMDB and recognize new tools that may be sharing or accessing corporate data not currently indexed.
Eliminating overlap and empowering systems to work together adds more significant business value to every layer of technology in use across your organization. Once you’ve built the connectivity and automation layers between systems to maintain and update your risk and asset inventories, you have the foundation of an ongoing risk monitoring platform. Incorporating simplified connection points between systems enhances data access in the short-term and alleviates system maintenance in the long-term.
An additional opportunity for automation is at the engagement level. Trigger and initiate action within your GRC platform or push notifications to communication tools to engage stakeholders across your organization. For example, when a risk score changes, or workflow updates such as a task, process, or assignment. Utilizing automation, you can speed up the action and increase overall adoption and ownership of risk management activity at the business level. Leveraging an extended platform, you can automate risk identification, communication, and action planning to automate your risk remediation efforts.
Advanced Automation and Artificial Intelligence
Automation is a broad category within technology; new solutions to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) can reinforce an already mature GRC program. Predictive analytics and machine learning are the next level of solutions to elevate your pro-active risk management program.
Once you’ve built a solid foundation of data structure between systems in use and integrated both processes and technology along with your GRC policies and initiatives, tackling some of these more advanced use-cases is a great path forward. To successfully use AI technologies, you need a foundation of integrated GRC processes. If you have mature technology programs within a concentrated division of your organization, you can effectively apply AI technology. However, the insights will be limited to your data points and inputs.
Predictive analytics systems can trend and forecast your data to project how your risk remediation efforts may impact your business long term. In tandem, machine learning can apply context to your data that was previously only available from manual or human analysis of circumstances and data points. By modeling data trends, you can update relevant risk data based on your actual business operations.
For example, by anticipating an uptick in employees working from home over seasonal intervals, your system can increase the risk score associated with your Virtual Private Network, and you may decide to issue compensating controls.
Using machine learning, you can layer context on to your data from both internal and external sources. Machine learning technologies range from scanning technologies that can pick up on keywords to then tag and index information aligned to source categories and topics. Alternatively, you can use machine learning to read already tagged and indexed information to layer on external context to your business data. By using external sources of data such as global data breaches or enforcement actions, your GRC system can account for changing threat landscapes. For example, if there is a rise in ransomware targeting a specific sector of communication companies such as mobile providers, you may want to increase or escalate the probability it may impact your business.
GRC is an evolving strategy to grow and adjust as your business matures and navigates through the changing landscape of threats and opportunities that can contribute or hinder your business. The technology options available can be overwhelming in what to pursue. Building a strong foundation of integrated processes and connected data infrastructure will translate to a dynamic GRC solution that can adapt alongside your organization.