Increasingly, issues surrounding governance, risk management, and compliance — also known as GRC — are being addressed by companies outside the enterprise realm. As more consider GRC as part of their broader business strategies, there is an increasing collective awareness of the strong link to cybersecurity. In fact, a solid approach to governance, risk management, and compliance is now widely considered to be a vital component of an organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
What is GRC, Exactly?
Governance, risk management, and compliance affects virtually every aspect of a company’s operations, employees, and even its policies and strategies. If we break down the three components into their most basic forms, the nature of GRC becomes more apparent.
- Governance refers to the operations, policies, and activities, which are architected and conducted in a GRC-friendly way — all while serving in the best interests of the business.
- Risk management refers to the process of identifying and addressing the risks that arise in the course of doing business.
- Compliance refers to the policies, procedures, and related efforts that are required to conduct business in a legal manner, while simultaneously maintaining any and all necessary regulatory compliance.
How is GRC Related to Cybersecurity?
At first glance, the connection between cybersecurity and GRC may not be apparent. But the link centers around the risk management component of the governance, risk management, and compliance equation.
A company’s technology represents a tremendous vulnerability from a security standpoint; where vulnerabilities exist, risk can be found as a constant companion. An organization’s GRC approach should include a robust risk management strategy that addresses cybersecurity risks in a comprehensive manner. In short, by implementing those GRC-friendly risk management measures, you can effectively minimize cybersecurity risks in the process.
How Do Good GRC Practices Affect Cybersecurity?
There are a few ways that GRC practices impact cybersecurity risk.
- Data security is an important part of any GRC risk management strategy. An organization’s data may be vulnerable to data breaches and more malicious exploitations such as ransomware. By architecting solutions to ensure data security and data privacy, you will be implementing measures that will protect that data from cybersecurity threats.
- Policies and procedures are a big part of the GRC framework and many apply to a company’s IT and its overall cybersecurity situation. By implementing policies and procedures that promote good GRC practices, you can also drive down cybersecurity risk. For instance, by mandating a specific process for data collection and data handling in an attempt to achieve regulatory compliance, you effectively reduce the risks of a data breach — a measure that simultaneously addresses multiple cybersecurity threats.
- Centralization is a key element of the GRC framework, which serves to promote greater awareness of threats and risks that may otherwise go unrealized as a result of the “siloing” that arises among an organization’s departments and divisions. This applies to cybersecurity threats too. Cohesion and alignment across an organization allows for the identification of cybersecurity threats and the efficient implementation of a solution.
- A GRC task force is critical for developing and maintaining good GRC practices. These individuals may also play an essential role in responding to a cybersecurity incident, particularly if an organization lacks a crisis response team. Your GRC taskforce typically includes leaders from every division within the organization; the same should be true of a crisis response team. This overlap means that your GRC team would be well-positioned to act if an incident occurs; they will also have experience working together which enables them to be more effective as a decision-making body during a crisis.
- Regulatory compliance is a major driving factor in the GRC equation. A large portion of all GRC practices are related to achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance and much of this compliance surrounds data, data handling, and auditing that data in cases when an organization is faced with proving compliance. As we previously discussed, data represents a key area of cybersecurity vulnerability. But beyond this, it is important to understand that it is considered a best practice to architect IT systems so that they support compliance. In doing so, this means that you are building an IT infrastructure that will guard against cybersecurity threats.
- Vendor vetting is a critical part of a GRC strategy, a third-party risk management (TPRM) strategy and it’s a critical component of a company’s business policies. A large portion of today’s third-party vendors involves technology. But an IT vendor represents a major risk from a cybersecurity standpoint since they are often afforded access to multiple systems and a multitude of data. If a company’s third-party risk management-related policies and GRC practices call for a comprehensive background check and vetting for all vendors, you can effectively minimize the risk of hiring a less-than-reputable — or downright criminal — IT vendor. This, in turn, reduces the associated cybersecurity threats facing your organization.
Notably, the converse is also true: a good cybersecurity risk management strategy will promote good GRC practices.
Emphasizing the Importance of GRC as Part of a Business Strategy
As business decision-makers become increasingly willing to invest in technology — and cybersecurity — the connection between good GRC practices and cybersecurity can be leveraged to bring increased attention to the issues surrounding governance, risk management, and compliance. The strong connection to cybersecurity serves as an effective strategy for emphasizing the importance of GRC for situations where business leaders remain unconvinced that it’s important to their company and its future.
Said simply, governance, risk management, and compliance is complicated. The comprehensive nature of GRC makes strategizing a challenge, although there are tools such as GRC software that can help to simplify and streamline the process.
At iTech, we have extensive experience in the realm of GRC and risk management solutions, especially as it relates to your organization’s technology. The sooner you begin addressing GRC, the sooner you will reap the many benefits — including peace of mind that you are managing (and minimizing) risk to the best of your ability. Contact the iTech team today to discuss cybersecurity, its link to GRC, and how our GRC solutions can benefit your organization.