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Continuous Controls Monitoring: Automatically Identifying Gaps in Security Controls

Posted by: Michael Greenberg
Continuous Controls Monitoring

Today, we are going to talk about something that might not score too high on anyone’s “Oh wow, I’ve been wondering about that” list. You guessed it (or maybe not), we’re going to talk about security controls and how to meet security compliance objectives leveraging Continuous Controls Monitoring (CCM).

A Quick Review – What are Security Controls?

Let’s take a step back – Security controls are the parameters and guardrails that help ensure an organization can achieve certain objectives, such as stronger cybersecurity, increased operating effectiveness, reduced losses, or full compliance with various regulatory or industry mandates or standards. They are the basis of any security compliance framework or standard. 

Effective implementation and operation of security controls is an ongoing concern for almost every organization, especially as compliance requirements increase. On average, organizations today use 80 security tools to manage and secure their data. But how can you really manage catalogs of security controls, countless security checklists, benchmarks, and recommendations, along with vulnerability databases, regulations, and best practices? 

Sad story – you may have no idea, with almost zero visibility into how your controls are working. Ensuring these controls or tools are configured properly, are aligned with security standards, and are operating as expected can be extremely difficult and time-consuming.

That’s where the need for Continuous Control Monitoring as a practice comes in. 

What is Continuous Controls Monitoring?

Gartner defines Continuous Controls Monitoring as “a set of technologies to reduce business losses through continuous monitoring and reducing the cost of audits through continuous auditing of the controls in financial and other transactional applications.” 

Essentially, CCM helps ensure that those controls are continually in place, operational, and working effectively.

Implementing CCM can help reduce the cost of audits by continuously monitoring the controls that are in place which govern key business functions. By ensuring that internal controls are closely monitored, and that documentation of all exceptions and subsequent remediation exists, auditors can quickly verify this information and spend less time testing or verifying.

Let’s take a look at how CCM is used within the specific context of cybersecurity, and how it helps businesses manage urgent risks to reduce the likelihood of being affected by breaches. 

Understanding the Continuous Control Monitoring Framework

Aside from making audits less burdensome, CCM helps businesses contend with an environment of increasing risk, tighter or changing regulations, and higher compliance costs. When implemented properly, it provides peace of mind and helps businesses scale by continuously validating the efficacy of their security controls.

To implement CCM, organizations use supporting technologies that ensure processes or controls are appropriately present and operating according to industry frameworks and best practices.

Continuous monitoring can be implemented with automated tools that have common characteristics. Typically, these solutions allow businesses to monitor and manage their security controls in a way that is aligned with cybersecurity best practices, ensures that critical assets are secured and is compliant with regulations.

For example, automated continuous monitoring can identify a lack of security controls or provide continuous control validation for security tools ensuring they are well-configured and functioning as intended.

By validating that controls are configured properly, aligned with security standards and operating as expected, CCM tools grant real-time visibility into the strengths and weaknesses of security posture. This enables organizations to manage risk, get ahead of problems before they develop, and lower the costs and time associated with formal audits.

With the right approach to dealing with Continuous Controls Monitoring, organizations can gain a continuous view of their security controls gaps and automate compliance validation and reporting for key standards like ISO, NIST, GDPR, SWIFT and PCI, among others, across On-prem, Cloud, and SaaS systems. Organizations can prioritize remediation of security findings coming from various tools’ analytic engines, delivering recommended steps to improve security posture, and deliver immediate alerts on deviations from normal behavior as a result of a possible attack or changes in configurations.

This approach makes it possible for security teams to see both their cyber exposures and how their existing security controls and detection and response tools react to these threats at any given moment. This provides the most accurate reflection possible of the true risk to the business.

The Takeaway

If you want to get a clear view into your critical business objectives and reduce your cyber exposure risk, leveraging CCM is a great way to start. It may not make dealing with security compliance more enjoyable but it will definitely help ensure it’s manageable and sustainable.


Michael Greenberg

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