Your Five Step GRC Implementation Roadmap

The concept of Governance, Risk and Compliance has been around for some time. Although there is no single, universally accepted definition for GRC, it is basically a comprehensive business strategy that aims at ensuring corporate governance and mitigating enterprise risk while staying in compliance with regulatory policies. It establishes clear guidelines for operations and a mechanism to prevent and fight business risks. It comprises of three main pillars.

Governance, ensuring business processes and corporate policies are practiced throughout the organization.

Risk, identifying the potential areas of risk and preparing the organization to minimize and prevent them.

Compliance, the ability to comply with legal and regulatory requirements and business policies.

For years, businesses have followed old school ways of implementing GRC programs using traditional methodologies such as spreadsheets and in-house tools. However, with emergence of breakthrough technologies like AI, Cloud and automation, the concept of GRC has evolved and modernized.

Although we have been slow in adopting technology-driven GRC practices, lately there has been a significant shift towards businesses leveraging automated GRC strategies at enterprise levels. So much so, that the global GRC market is expected to reach $64.61 billion by 2025.

Today, all modern enterprises need to let go of traditional GRC practices and modernize their approach. But how do you get there? How can you adopt a winning GRC strategy? Here is a five-step GRC implementation roadmap that can help you plan, strategize and implement modern GRC practices effectively in your organization.

Revisit your GRC framework

To start with, you need to review your existing GRC framework and identify the gaps that technology can fill. It would mean redefining what governance, compliance and risk means for your enterprise. A clear understanding of your key business objectives and important business processes will help you adopt the right GRC technology and develop appropriate policies, procedures and guidelines for your business.

Select a GRC Solution

In order to ensure effective functioning of a GRC initiative, it is important that you pick the right implementation partner and an ideal GRC solution for your enterprise. There are tons of GRC tools and hundreds of vendors in the market.Cloud based GRC solutions are most popular nowadays. MetricStream, BWise, SAP, Riskonnect, RSA Archer etc. are some market-leading GRC products available today. Go for a solution that comes with all the features you’re looking for. Also, do your research and select an experienced vendor that can implement GRC within a reasonable time-frame with maximum efficiency.

Project Planning

This step involves chalking out a well-defined GRC implementation plan. A business analyst or project manager appointed by the vendor visits your premises and spends time understanding your existing business processes and policies. He also conducts a risk assessment of your business and identifies areas that need to be protected.

He then develops an integrated GRC plan that best suits your organization, including a detailed demo of the selected GRC product, assigning roles and responsibilities and defining project timelines.

Implement GRC Practices

Once a detailed plan is developed, the next and the most crucial step is implementing GRC practices at your enterprise. Today, most GRC programs are Cloud driven and automated. Implementation involves policy and document management, operational risk management, IT risk management and corporate compliance management. It also includes spreading awareness about the new GRC policies and training people within the organization to practice them.

Monitor and Improvise

Implementing a GRC program is not a one-time activity. It is a continuous business practice and must be followed every day across all departments. It is therefore important to closely monitor and ensure that GRC practices are well followed within the enterprise. Also, since the business world is highly dynamic, you must modernize your GRC platform and revise your policies regularly to match business, industry and regulatory requirements.

GRC is essential because it brings about a stability in the way a business performs. It improves the quality of people, processes and information within an organization providing meaningful insights for better decision making. It is not just a good initiative anymore, it is an essential business requisite. Adopting a modern GRC program leads to a remarkable organizational change. However, the key to successful implementation is to have a clear strategy and take one step at a time.

How is GDPR impacting Indian Data Privacy Laws?

GDPR is a trendsetter in the world of data protection and is widely impacting worldwide data privacy laws. Can we expect something similar in India?

Data privacy is one of the biggest risks that modern businesses face. The use of big data elevates the complexity of this challenge even more. The question is; are you doing enough to fight the risk? If you think installing anti-malware software and conducting an audit every six months is enough to keep your sensitive information safe, you certainly need to revisit your data privacy measures. There have been some mega data breaches in the recent past; at massive business groups such as Verizon, Equifax and even Facebook. These data breaches teach us a very important lesson; no business is completely safe from the risk and cybercriminals are never at rest.

Data privacy is now a matter of universal concern, a serious problem; just like global warming and terrorism. Today, every nation needs stringent data privacy laws and regulations to ensure fair and safe use of sensitive information. With an aim to discuss the various challenges and concerns underlying in the Indian Data Protection Framework, ASSOCHAM recently conducted a Global Data Privacy Summit in Bangalore. The idea behind the summit was to invite views and suggestions from a multi-stakeholder community on the regulatory and judicial processes around nation-wide data privacy concerns.

Several business groups, IT delegates and data privacy enthusiasts from India and other countries participated in the event. The panelists discussed the challenges, opportunities and probable measures on stimulating issues like Big Data, worldwide Data Privacy, and effects of disruptive technologies on Data Protection among many others. Each discussion was followed by an interactive Q&A and networking session.

Estuate too, was a key participant at the event as the GDPR partner. Our Data and Analytics Head, Mr. Vishwas Balakrishna drove the discussion on “The influence of GDPR on global data privacy laws”. “GDPR is a game-changer in the world of data privacy. If nations across the globe get influenced by this revolutionary law and impose similar regulations, the status of worldwide data privacy will be stronger and more resilient in the days to come.” Vishwas stated.

The European Union’s GDPR is a rather bold and revolutionary step against global cyber risk. The law sets stringent restrictions on the usage of personal information of EU citizens. The good thing is, it is not just confined to the European borders, but applies to all companies across the globe. It is a strong, solid measure that strengthens data privacy despite the uncontrollable risk of breaches.

Data privacy is certainly a burning issue in the Indian ecosystem. In order to address this concern, the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 has been recently submitted by the Justice BN Srikrishna committee. The proposed bill is similar to GDPR in many ways. It states that “The right to privacy is a fundamental right and it is necessary to protect personal data as an essential facet of informational privacy.” It also binds any person processing personal information of Indian citizens to do it in a fair and reasonable manner. Non-compliance would lead to penalties up to Rs. 15 crores or 4% of business turnover.

Although it is still a proposed bill and is awaiting approval by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, it is a huge step in the right direction towards fighting cybercrime. If implemented, it could potentially change the face of the Indian Data Protection Framework for good.

How to build Cyber Resilience in your enterprise?

As a business grows and modernizes, it demands higher and more efficient governance. Cyber Resilience is an end-to-end governance framework to keep the security of your business intact.

Technology comes with its own pluses and minuses. It brings with it tons of opportunities to grow, but also carries some challenges that cannot be overlooked.

As enterprises embrace modern ways of conducting business and move closer towards digitization, the vulnerabilities associated with data and technology increase. The rising number of data breaches and cyber security incidents is a caution for businesses around the world to rethink their risk management strategies.

Today, businesses need more than just an Information Security plan or a Governance policy to fight hacks and cyber-attacks. They need an end-to-end strategy to prevent security incidents and a bulletproof plan of action to cope with it if need be. That’s where Cyber Resilience comes into picture.

What is Cyber Resilience?

Cyber Resilience is a fairly new concept in the world of Information Technology and has lately gained huge momentum. Simply put, it is the ability of organizations to withstand cybercrime, prepare for the possible threats and build an action plan to recover from it if it ever hits them. It is a comprehensive framework that aims at protecting the entire organization including its people, processes, and information from cyber crisis.

How is Cyber Resilience different from Cybersecurity?

From a broad prospective, Cyber Resilience and Cyber Security sound synonymous. The two terms are closely related, but cannot be used interchangeably. While Cybersecurity mainly focuses on protecting business information, Cyber Resilience focuses on protecting the business from attacks that can potentially disrupt the entire operations. Cyber Resilience is an integrated and more proactive approach that includes Cybersecurity as a key element.

But why should you care?

Almost all data driven organizations have a governance policy or a risk management framework. You would too. But looking at the huge data breaches at companies like Facebook and Equifax, do you feel confident about your security measures?

As the size of your data and operations increases, cyber threats increase equivalently. Your business is prone to threats like theft of sensitive data, insider breaches, poorly managed processes, and technology driven attacks. In this highly risky digital landscape, attacks can happen anytime, anywhere. A Cyber Resilience framework can keep you immune from security incidents for a long term, without hampering business operations.

How to achieve Cyber Resilience?

Identify

For a scalable Cyber Resilience strategy, you must first take a closer look at the vulnerable areas of your enterprise. Where is all your sensitive information stored? Who are the people using confidential business information? Which devices are used to carry out sensitive processes? Perform a thorough hygiene check at your enterprise, and identify the areas where cyber resilience measures are much needed.

Protect

Once you’ve recognized your most critical assets and processes, you must develop a strategy to protect them from cybercrime. This would involve a change in the security policy, stronger device encryptions, restricting unauthorized usage of external devices, training employees about the importance of cybersecurity and inculcating the best practices to prevent malicious activities.

Detect

Apart from being proactively involved in preventing cybercrime, you also need to closely monitor your business processes, employee activities and sensitive information. Early detection of fraud or malware can minimize the drastic impacts it can have on business operations. Any disturbing act must be notified immediately and appropriate action must be taken.

Respond

Cybercriminals are never at rest, and despite the security measures taken, you could experience a security incident at your enterprise. It could be as minor as use of personal device by an employee for an official task, or as major as leakage of sensitive client data. Once detected, a suspicious activity of any kind must be immediately attended to, and communicated to the right individuals within the enterprise to be able to fight it effectively.

Recover

What’s done is done, but you can always reduce the adversity of a cybercrime with the right measures. This step involves the actions that can be taken to fight back the malicious activity, to avoid it from spreading across different departments and to rectify the fault under your control.

The aftermaths of a security incident can be devastating. Not only does it hamper business activities, the enterprise encounters huge financial losses and its brand value is harshly affected. A bulletproof strategy to prevent cybercrime is a must for all businesses, regardless their size and nature. Cyber Resilience is a smart choice to keep your business data, processes, technologies and people away from cybercrime in the long run.

Top 5 Managed Services for modern enterprises

Hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP) could be your most cost-effective business decision. Here are the top 5 Managed Service offerings that will optimize your IT operations while cutting company costs.

As technology becomes an integral part of all modern businesses, managing IT operations effectively becomes critical too. Not all businesses are equipped with the best IT staff, and not all of them need one.

That’s where Managed Services come to rescue. Managed Service Providers are third-party vendors that specialize in IT services. They undertake the responsibility of maintaining all IT activities on a 24×7 basis.

There are several benefits of hiring a Managed Service Provider. You get expert IT services at low cost while you can focus on your core business goals. However, with so many Managed IT Services available, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which ones to manage internally and which ones to outsource. Here are the 5 most critical IT operations you might consider outsourcing to a Managed Services Provider.

Managed Network Services

Managed Network Services are a set of hardware and software communication networks that are operated, secured and managed by a third party. It includes networking infrastructure resources like servers, routers and operating systems as well as software solutions like firewall security, managed WAN and LAN and network monitoring services. It is ideal for non-IT businesses to outsource network services to an MSP since it eliminates the cost of the entire network set-up and in-house maintenance.

Monitoring and Help Desk Services

IT operations in an enterprise must be monitored and looked after vigilantly. A little negligence can cause system downtimes, connectivity issues and a deep impact on the end-user productivity. Hiring a dedicated MSP to monitor your IT activities helps you carry out business operations smoothly and fix system errors immediately. It keeps your IT performance worries at bay and allows you to focus on core business activities effectively.

Managed Security Services

All businesses today deal with personally identifiable client information and other confidential business data. Usage of sensitive information implies a direct risk of cyber security incidents. Also, ensuring information security is not just a good practice, it is a mandate. Hiring experts to look after your IT security is an ideal strategy to avoid cyber risk and maintain data security at a fair cost.

Managed Data Storage

In a data-centric world, almost all businesses face the problem of storing huge data sets efficiently. Traditional data storage systems are no longer effective and investing in new-age data warehouses is an expensive affair. The best solution is to let a third-party host store and manage growing business data effectively. Managed Service Providers offer a host of data storage alternatives based on varied business demands. These include shared or dedicated data storage solutions and outsourced database support with massive storage and archival capacity. The most widely adopted data storage service is Cloud hosting, where the MSP stores business data safely over the Cloud.

Managed Application Services

Businesses need numerous apps to ensure efficient business operations. These apps range include but not limited to end user portals, reporting dashboards, advanced analytics, and ERP applications. Managed application services help you build high performing, customized business apps at low cost, and also maintain those applications remotely. Managed application services include designing, building and maintenance of a range of interactive web apps, portals and dashboards, mobile apps for customer engagement and internal communication and a range of platform modernization applications.

Successful entrepreneurs know how to play to their strengths and how to delegate trivial tasks. Managed IT services is a boon for non-IT companies and the industry is gradually picking up pace. Hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for your IT needs is a strategic business move that will optimize your IT operations, while letting you grow your business peacefully.

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal: What you need to know

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has caused a worldwide debate. Here’s all you need to know about it and more.

You thought Facebook was safe? Well, we all thought so until the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal shook up social media and global politics like never before.

What is this scandal all about? Should you, as an entrepreneur be more concerned about data security at your enterprise now? This article gives you the inside story of what exactly happened and what you must learn from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Cambridge Analytica is a London based data analytics and political consulting firm incorporated in 2013. It helps political parties with data mining and elections strategies. It all started in 2014 when Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher developed a personality quiz app on Facebook. As much as 270,000 Facebook users installed the app and took Kogan’s quiz. Little did they know that the developers were able to access their personal data through the app. That’s not all; they could access personal information of their “Facebook friends” as well (without their permission).

All this personal information, which should have ideally been deleted, was being saved in a private database and sold to Cambridge Analytica. Allegedly, personal data of about 50 million Facebook users was hacked in this manner. Cambridge Analytica used this information to create about 30 million psychographic profiles to influence elections. The company has worked on elections all over the world, including the Bihar Assembly Elections in India in 2010. It is also said to have a major role in influencing the recent US Presidential Elections.

Quite obviously, this massive scam has affected the social media giant too. Soon after the news was out, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook went viral on social media, impelling people to quit Facebook. The company’s shares immediately tumbled in the stock market, and accounted for a loss of $35 Billion in a single day.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his account, “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.” He also addressed the media expressing his apologies on the matter and assured that the Facebook team is investigating all applications that use personal user data and auditing suspicious activities more closely.

Cybersecurity incidents affect an enterprise adversely in multiple ways. They lead to legal implications, cause loss of reputation and create financial dents too. But does it affect you? When a data breach as big as that can occur at Facebook, it can affect any business any time. Enterprises collect heaps of information from a variety of devices on a daily basis. The more information you collect, the more accountable you are to protect it and avoid any kind of misuse.

This incident has increased the need for IT security across the globe. It’s time to learn a lesson from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and review your Information Security programs for better. To prevent cybersecurity incidents at your enterprise, you need more than just a data security program. You need to educate your employees about the importance of business data, instill best practices around data privacy and monitor your IT operations more diligently; and continue this throughout the information lifecycle.

Data Governance – What challenges do you face as a CIO?

Implementing an enterprise-wide Data Governance program sets multiple challenges for CIOs and business owners. What’s holding you back?

In today’s technology driven expanse, enterprises recognize the critical importance of their data. It is not just a strategic asset; it is also growing in volumes at an alarming rate. When left unmanaged, this sheer volume of data proves to be a costly affair in terms of storage and risky in terms of security and maintenance.

This is where data governance comes into picture. Data governance (DG) is a set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies and procedures that encompasses an enterprise’s people, processes and information to ensure high quality of business data throughout its lifecycle. It performs the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise.

A robust data governance program ensures that CIOs and CXOs can derive the maximum benefit out of their data and can channelize it towards achieving business goals. However CIOs and CXOs face several setbacks in executing a successful data governance program.

Planning out a governance strategy
A data governance strategy involves clear decision making, management and accountability of the enterprise data at stake. Many enterprises understand the need for a strong data governance framework, but they’re not sure where to start from. Especially when there’s heaps of historical data, and fresh data that won’t stop piling up, it becomes all the more complicated. An effective data governance needs a well thought plan that can be built with the assistance of top management and stakeholders, and consulting from industry experts.

Bringing together IT and Business stewards
A successful governance strategy is a result of a solid partnership between business and technology. In most enterprises, there’s no clear understanding between the IT and business heads.  Most DG programs revolve around the IT front, because that’s where all the data sits, but they fail to address critical business challenges. The IT and business sides of an organization need to come together and build a holistic plan that works for the optimum best.

Resource allocation
Implementing a DG program starts with appointing a committee that would be responsible for the enforcement and supervision of the project. Finding the right people, with the right understanding to carry out data governance effectively becomes a key challenge. Another key aspect of data governance is selecting the right technology or software for the best results. With so many software tools in market, going with the right governance solution is critical for decision makers.

Getting it done right
As much as setting the right goals and assigning the right roles is essential, getting it done right is very critical. Executing enterprise-wide data governance is a huge responsibility for CIOs. And even if the DG strategy is ideal, the model is perfect and the resources are experts in their areas, successful implementation is subject to other dynamic factors. In absence of a holistic platform, where all the elements of a DG initiative can be integrated, the best of the strategies can sometimes crumble down.

Compliance with DG policies
CIOs and decision makers put a lot of effort into developing data governance policies. However, over time, these policies become merely printed words and lose their value because they’re not followed in day-to-day operations. Organizations fail to ensure that their governance practices are in compliance with the standard policies, and this affects the quality of data in the long run.

Conclusion:
Good governance allows businesses to tame their data effectively, builds confidence in business data and brings value to it. Pitfalls like these can turn the best practices into the worst practices. However, when the top representatives from IT and business work together with the right software, data governance can lead an enterprise to newer heights.

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