It’s no surprise that cyber compliance is a moving target; it isn’t just the threats that evolve, but systems, applications, user bases, as well as Federal regulations. Many agencies are at risk of falling behind, leaving their data, systems and users exposed to threats. There’s no greater risk than in the realm of cybersecurity. In fact, in an OMB report from just last year, approximately 74% of agencies were found to be “at Risk” or at “High Risk” due to their management of cybersecurity practices.
Security starts with organizational goals, which lead to policies, which in turn lead to procedures and controls, including compliance with required standards. Too often, tracking cyber compliance is done inconsistently, or through low-tech methods, such as documents, lists, and spreadsheets, or through multiple applications. The “disconnected” nature of this data, which doesn’t allow for a simple, unified view, presents its own risk to the organization, since important details or potential issues may be missed.
Cybersecurity is a continuing process, not a matter of “one-and-done” compliance with government standards. An enterprise-wide audit and tracking automation system collects all of the data in one place, delivering more accurate, up-to-date reporting and highlighting red flags.
A well-tuned compliance management system can not only identify potential trouble spots, but also allow the cyber team to triage issues remotely, and then run processes that recommend fixes and timeframes to resolve out-of-compliance issues.
Checklist compliance isn’t enough. In fact, as NIST Special Publication 800-53A, Revision 4, states, the purpose of cyber assessments is to “verify that implemented security controls and privacy controls are meeting their stated … objectives.” Also, the Department of Homeland Security describes the 2019 FISMA reporting metrics as a “minimum threshold” for IT security. NIST’s cybersecurity framework (CSF) leaves room for each agency to implement cyber risk management in the way that works best for them, and as we’ve seen, the guidelines continues to evolve.
Real cyber compliance means meeting and enforcing the standards that are both required and necessary to protect your systems, data, and people, so that your mission goals can be reached. But risk extends beyond an agency’s own systems and employees.
Not Just a One-to-One Issue for Agencies
Every agency’s prime contractors are required to confirm that they meet certain standards for security, financial, reporting… in short, the whole range of business practices. When your prime contractor uses subs, what’s your assurance that they meet the same compliance standards?
An agency’s primes should be enforcing compliance throughout supply chain. That means cyber compliance audits should be extended through the entire vendor ecosystem. To do this effectively, though, requires both awareness of the issue and the standards, tools and methodologies to ensure that the data is captured and collated, and that issues are identified and dealt with within a specified timeline.
Again, an enterprise automation solution can provide both. Without this top-down view that extends throughout the Agency/Prime/Sub relationship, as well as the ability to recommend and manage corrections, the agency’s exposure to risk increases dramatically.
Identify. Triage. Resolve.
Compliance is one crucial element in the ongoing struggle to limit cyber risk. An automation solution that allows cybersecurity teams to manage compliance with known Federal standards as well as their own organization’s processes can give agencies vital insight and capabilities. Most important is the enterprise-wide insight into cyber compliance, which really means ensuring that risk-management processes are being performed correctly and on time.
When choosing an enterprise solution, agencies should not only look for the ability to capture and report on whether standards are met — providing one, reliable source of information — but also if they can proactively manage corrections within a single system. A solution should be able to provide insight into compliance with any and all of the applicable standards, such as FISMA/NIST SP800-53, NERC – CIP, HSPD-12 and the Department of Homeland Security CDM Program. By pulling this data into one place. agencies and government contractors can also build a strong foundation for advances in machine learning and AI.
The goal is to make sure that the organization’s systems are always compliant with its defined policies and processes, including external standards. In other words, it’s not just a matter of, “Do you have standards?” but “Are your risk management processes and controls doing the job effectively?” Without an enterprise-wide solution that provides both visibility and timely remediation, the real risk is that CIOs and CISOs may not have sufficient awareness to protect critical assets.
To learn about low-code/no-code compliance automation solutions for Federal agencies that are cost effective, easy to implement, and simple to manage, visit ARMATURE.