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Governance & Compliance

The Proactive CISO’s Guide to CCoP 2.0 Regulations

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‘A lot more is now required.’ 

 

That’s how I’ll summarize the huge lift in requirements in version two of the Cybersecurity Code of Practice (CCoP 2.0) Regulations. Per KPMG’s assessments, to become compliant, clauses companies must now adhere to jumped 116%, from 102 to a whopping 220: 

 

 Per KPMG’s assessments, to become compliant, clauses companies must now adhere to jumped 116%, from 102 to a whopping 220

 

This increase leaves you, a CISO or company executive charged with leading your team’s compliance efforts, with much more to do. It’s also crucial to note that, after CCoP 2.0 went into effect in July 2022, Singapore’s CyberSecurity Act (CSA) allowed a grace period of just twelve (12) months. The implication of this is that you need some urgency to avoid the hammer. 

 

But, first, why so many new security clauses? 

 

Lionel Seaw succinctly answered that: 

 

Lionel Seaw - Quote

 

Who Is CCoP 2.0 Compliance For?

 

There are two ways to answer this one. 

 

The first are the organizations in sectors explicitly spelled out by the CSA. Per their official statement, Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) of companies in designated sectors responsible for essential services in Singapore must comply. 

 

They include: 

  • Government
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Banking and Finance
  • Transport (Land, Maritime, and Aviation)
  • Media
  • Infocomm, and
  • Security and Energy Services

 

Your company may not be in these sectors. 

 

Regardless, if your organization works with businesses in those sectors, you also need to comply. This is because of the second way the CSA states who CCoP 2.0 is applicable to:

 

CSA.gov

 

Based on this, I’d do two things with this guide: 

 

  1. Explore key CCoP 2.0 compliance requirements, and 
  2. Show how Cyber Sierra’s smart enterprise compliance management suite helps to automate their implementations. 

 

Before that:

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Key CCoP 2.0 Requirements for CII

 

As earlier mentioned, across its eleven (11) requirement sections, there are about 220 auditable security clauses in CCoP 2.0. 

 

As shown below: 

 

Number of Clauses - CCOP v 2.0.

 

Protection, Governance, Detection, Operational Technology (OT) Security, Response & Recovery, Cyber Resilience, and Cybersecurity Training & Awareness. These seven requirements all have over half a dozen security clauses. At face value, it may seem like the key requirements for complying with CCoP 2.0 CII revolve around these.

 

While they do to some extent, the bulk of what’s needed in the clauses under these requirements comes down to creating policy documents. Companies can work with compliance consultants to get these done. Where you want to channel your efforts is on ensuring that your CII systems are actually secured from cyber threats. 

 

Achieving that goes beyond creating policy documents. You need a way to automate processes for governing, detecting, and training employees on ways to remediate cyber threats and vulnerabilities. 

 

And that’s where Cyber Sierra helps. 

 

Our platform enables you to coordinate your entire team and manage multiple compliance audits from one place. For instance, Speedoc, a Singaporean-based tech company, relies on Cyber Sierra for this: 

 

For instance, Speedoc, a Singaporean-based tech company, relies on Cyber Sierra for this

 

How to Automate CCoP 2.0 Compliance Audit

 

The CSA applied five design principles in drafting CCoP 2.0. These principles are important because they provide the guardrails to successfully prepare for CCoP 2.0 compliance audit. 

 

They are illustrated here:

 

CSA’s Design Principles in drafting the CCOP v 2.0

 

Cumulatively, these principles give organizations the flexibility to focus on CCoP 2.0 requirements they deem necessary. With that in mind, the steps below summarizes how Cyber Sierra automates vital requirements involved in crushing a CCoP compliance audit. 

 

Governance

 

CSA.gov. CCoP 2.0 Official Documentation

 

This requirement essentially mandates having qualified employees assigned to the right roles and working collaboratively to: 

 

  • Provide cybersecurity leadership and oversight
  • Handle cybersecurity change management
  • Create policies, standards, and guidelines
  • Perform periodic internal compliance audits
  • Select necessary cloud security requirements
  • Implement vendor risk management framework. 

 

Cyber Sierra makes doing all these easier. With our platform, you can add all employees on your Governance team, assign responsibilities, and work collaboratively from one place:

 

Cyber Sierra makes doing all these easier. With our platform, you can add all employees on your Governance team, assign responsibilities, and work collaboratively from one place

 

Protection

 

Protection- CSA.gov. CCoP 2.0 Official Documentation

 

Protection is the CCoP 2.0 requirement with the most number of security clauses. Clauses under this requirement primarily force organizations to protect their CII from unauthorized access. 

 

Twelve crucial clauses covered includes: 

 

  • Privilege access management
  • Access control
  • Patch management
  • System hardening
  • Database security
  • Penetration testing
  • Network segmentation
  • Windows domain controller
  • Cryptography key management
  • Network segmentation
  • Application security, and
  • Vulnerability management. 

 

To meet CCoP 2.0’s Protection requirements, having a solid process for detecting threats is an important step. This is because in Clause 5.14.2, the Code states:

 

CSA.gov. CCoP 2.0 Clause 5.14.2

 

To achieve this, you need to automate detecting where threats and vulnerabilities are coming and get insights for remediating them. 

 

And that’s the next vital requirement. 

 

Detection

 

Detection - CSA.gov. CCoP 2.0 Official Documentation

 

This requirement can be summarized to one thing: Your organization should have technology for enacting cybersecurity controls that helps your security team streamline processes involved in: 

 

  • Cyber threat intelligence
  • Continuous controls’ monitoring
  • Cybersecurity log management, and
  • Threat hunting. 

 

Cyber Sierra’s Risk Dashboard automates all that: 

 

Cyber Sierra’s Risk Dashboard automates

 

As shown, this feature enables your team to filter and scan Critical Information Infrastructure assets continuously. Besides detecting and identifying cyber threats and vulnerabilities that could affect your CII from this, you also get a dashboard with real-time reports needed for compliance audits. On the same dashboard, your team can manage and get factual insights for resolving vulnerabilities. 

 

Cybersecurity Training & Awareness

 

Cybersecurity Training & Awareness - CSA.gov. CCoP 2.0 Official Documentation

 

Clauses under this requirement can be split into two parts: 

 

  • Cybersecurity awareness programme, and
  • Cybersecurity training and skills. 

 

Both may sound like the same thing, but they are not. One is about keeping employees aware of existing and emerging cybersecurity attack types. The other is concerned with equipping them with the skills needed to counter threats and effect cybersecurity responsibilities. 

 

To comply with both, in 9.1.3, the CCoP 2.0 mandates that:

 

 One is about keeping employees aware of existing and emerging cybersecurity attack types. The other is concerned with equipping them with the skills needed to counter threats and effect cybersecurity responsibilities.

 

Cyber Sierra helps you automate this. Our Employee Awareness suite gives you a single pane to: 

 

  1. Launch and manage employee awareness and training programs
  2. Monitor and nudge employees to complete programs, so everyone is always ready for CCoP 2.0 compliance audits:

 

Our Employee Awareness suite gives you a single pane

 

Staying Compliant with CCoP 2.0 Regulations

 

Achieving CCoP 2.0 compliance is flexible. 

 

As the guiding principles used in creating its draft revealed, organizations are free to choose and only comply with CII requirements that are applicable to them. But once those initial requirements have been chosen and their corresponding security controls defined, staying compliant can’t be treated flexibly. 

 

The CSA mandates organizations to implement a continuous cycle of security assessments to enable swift responses to cybersecurity incidents. This was hammered in clause 13.21 of their official documentation of responses to feedback on CCoP 2.0 compliance:

 

CSA.gov-Response-to-CCoP-2.0-Feedback-Clause

 

In other words, you should monitor the cybersecurity controls defined in your CCoP 2.0 compliance continuously to stay compliant. Cyber Sierra’s Governance suite enables that. 

 

Organizations leverage it to: 

 

  1. Monitor CCoP 2.0 compliance control breaks continuously 
  2. Get practical remediation insights 
  3. Assign and remediate risks with teammates collaboratively. 

 

Here’s a peek: 

 

the cybersecurity controls defined in your CCoP 2.0 compliance continuously to stay compliant

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Automate Becoming and Staying CCoP 2.0-Compliant.

Cyber Sierra automates crucial steps involved in becoming (and staying) CCoP 2.0-compliant

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Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Third Party Risk Management

The Proactive CISO’s Guide to MAS TRM Guidelines

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Where there’s sugar, expect unwanted ants. 

 

That has proven true in Singapore. As the country grows into a world-renowned tech hub, it has become a sweet spot for innovative startups and enterprises. So has it for unwanted bad actors. 

 

So much that, in 2022 alone, Singaporean financial institutions (FIs) spent a whopping US$5.7 billion fighting cybercrime and meeting regulations. In one massive phishing attack, for instance, Singapore’s OCBC Bank and its customers lost over US$10.8 million

 

With no end to such cyberattacks in sight, more stringent cybersecurity compliance measures were needed. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) rightly stepped up to update its Technology Risk Management (TRM) Guidelines. 

 

Updating the MAS TRM Guidelines was Necessary

 

The updated MAS TRM Guidelines adds another item to the already loaded to-dos of CISOs of banks and financial institutions (FIs). But given that cybercrime is getting worse, becoming (and staying) compliant is necessary to help your team achieve cyber resilience.

 

According to the regulatory body:

 

MAS TRM - techniques used

 

In other words, threat actors are now more sophisticated. The dire situation means MAS TRM Guidelines helps banks, FIs, and all enterprises working with them to:

 

  1. Understand their company’s exposure to technology risks.
  2. Ensure IT and cyber resilience by erecting robust risk management frameworks across their company’s operations. 

 

But achieving both can be overwhelming. 

 

What’s even more troubling is the fact that to remain compliant with Singapore’s MAS TRM Guidelines, companies are required to monitor cybersecurity controls continuously. For this, you need a smart enterprise compliance automation suite that automates mundane steps involved.

 

That’s where a platform like Cyber Sierra comes in.

 

And in this piece, you’ll see how it automates the process of becoming (and staying) compliant with MAS TRM Guidelines. 

 

Before we dive in…

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Becoming (and Staying) Compliant with MAS TRM Guidelines

 

The updated MAS TRM Guidelines has fifteen sections

 

  1. Preface
  2. Application of MAS TRM Guidelines
  3. Technology Risk Governance and Oversight
  4. Technology Risk Management Framework
  5. IT Project Management and Security-by-Design
  6. Software Application Development and Management
  7. IT Service Management
  8. IT Resilience
  9. Access Control
  10. Cryptography
  11. Data and Infrastructure Security
  12.  Cyber Security Operations
  13.  Cyber Security Assessment
  14.  Online Financial Services
  15.  IT Audit

 

The first and second sections provide an overview of the MAS TRM Guidelines. After that, each section from 3–15 has subsections outlining best practices organizations should follow to become and stay compliant. But as illustrated below, after reviewing all these sections and subsections, we grouped them into three critical areas: 

 

  • Risk governance and oversight
  • Third-party risk management (TPRM) 
  • Data and operational security management. 

 

The updated MAS TRM Guidelines

 

Risk Governance and Oversight

 

Sections under this area of the MAS TRM Guidelines outline the personnel and frameworks needed to ensure that a technology risk management strategy is established and implemented. The emphasis is first on having a more extensive list of roles appointed into your organization’s board of directors and senior management. 

 

The regulatory body notes:

 

MAS TRM - In-content highlight

 

The importance of these roles can’t be overstretched. 

 

Their combined expertise is needed to oversee the creation and implementation of technology risk management and IT project management frameworks, respectively. Once these personnels have been appointed, it’s best to have them working collaboratively. 

 

That’s where an interoperable cybersecurity platform like Cyber Sierra comes in. Our platform gives you a central place to work collaboratively and implement the needed security frameworks: 

 

Our platform gives you a central place to work collaboratively and implement the needed security frameworks

 

As shown, you can add appointed executives for more streamlined collaboration based on their roles. This automatically gives them role-based access controls for overseeing: 

 

  • The implementation of technology risk management strategy
  • The erection of a third-party risk management framework
  • The continuous assessment, management, and remediation of threats and risk necessary to remain compliant.

 

One benefit of having them collaborate from a streamlined platform like Cyber Sierra is that besides the ease of assigning policies and security controls to them, they’ll work together from a single pane. 

 

More on that as we proceed. 

 

Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM)

 

Sections 6–10 of the MAS TRM Guidelines, if you look closely, have a lot to do with 3rd party vendor risks. This is probably why the most recent update focuses mainly on third-party risk management. According to the regulatory body, this renewed focus is because:

 

MAS-TRM - scope and nature

 

By this recommendation, assessing risks from 3rd-parties should be prioritized. To do this effectively, it’s best to start by categorizing vendors based on their access to your organization’s sensitive data. 

As illustrated below: 

 

How to Categorize Third-Party Vendors

 

Once you’ve categorized vendors, the next step is to create, customize, and send security assessment questionnaires based on that categorization. Cyber Sierra automates this process. 

 

Our platform has globally-recognized vendor risk assessment templates, such as NIST and ISO. Your team can customize them to suit regional requirements for compliance programs like MAS TRM. You can also add and use your own risk assessment templates:

 

The steps are streamlined into: 

 

  1. Choosing an appropriate assessment template
  2. Customizing it by selecting and editing questions needed to assess a particular third-party vendor
  3. Assigning reviewer(s) with different role-based access control in a few clicks, and 
  4. Providing details of the third-party vendor such as where they are located or the assessee type they are:

 

Your team can customize them to suit regional requirements for compliance programs like MAS TRM. You can also add and use your own risk assessment templates

 

Through these steps, especially the 4th step, our platform enforces the categorization of 3rd-party vendors, right from sending out security assessment questionnaires. And by automating the entire process from one place, your organization can assess third-party risks and monitor their security postures in real-time. 

 

That was the case for a global bank using Cyber Sierra

 

global bank in singapore

 

Read their success story here. 

 

Data and Operational Security Management 

 

The last five sections of MAS TRM Guidelines deal with how organizations manage and secure data in their daily operations. Due to the dynamism involved in managing sensitive data, achieving compliance to requirements outlined in these sections calls for continuous monitoring of cybersecurity controls. 

 

That is, your security team should: 

 

  • Continuously monitor and analyze cyber events
  • Promptly detect and respond to cyber incidents. 

 

The regulatory body recommends that:

 

MAS TRM - In-content highlight design-3

 

Here’s why this recommendation is vital.

 

It allows enterprises to identify any changes in a provider’s risk profile over time rather than just at preset intervals, shifting from periodic risk assessments to continuous intelligence.

 

For instance, your organization outsources technology services to cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and others. Based on the MAS TRM’s official statement, your security team should automatically, through continuous monitoring, test controls and configurations in those environments. This removes the need for manual checks and provides assurance on cloud-based controls.

 

Cyber Sierra automates this process: 

 

identify any changes in a provider’s risk profile over time rather than just at preset intervals, shifting from periodic risk assessments to continuous intelligence

 

As shown, in one dashboard, your team can: 

 

  1. Continuously monitor and detect MAS TRM control breaks and their corresponding vulnerabilities.
  2. View details of vulnerabilities related to a control break
  3. Get actionable tips for remediating threats, and
  4. Assign remediation to qualified teammates.

 

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The Consequence of MAS TRM Noncompliance

 

Brand reputation damage and, of course, fines. 

 

Those are the major consequences of violating MAS TRM Guidelines. Specific to fines, this report noted that the penalty per breach of a TRM requirement can exceed S$1 million. But it doesn’t end there. Multiple breaches of the MAS TRM requirements can result in a multi-million dollar fine for an organization. 

 

This was demonstrated by MAS’s 2023 report of penalized financial institutions. DBS Bank was among those penalized. They were fined a whopping S$2.6 million for violations and noncompliance failures committed between July 2015 and February 2020. 

 

Their case revealed that your organization can still be penalized several years after for noncompliance failures committed today. This necessitates the need to prioritize becoming (and staying) compliant to MAS TRM Guidelines today. 

 

Ease through Singapore’s MAS TRM Guidelines

 

MAS TRM Guidelines has 15 sections. 

 

Under each section, there are dozens of subsections of requirements organizations must adhere to become compliant. Along with these, their corresponding security controls that must be implemented. To ease the process, it is better to leverage a platform that automates most processes involved: 

 

 

To ease the process, it is better to leverage a platform that automates most processes involved:

 

Our platform has the MAS TRM program built-in. 

 

This means, in a few clicks, you can invite your team and work collaboratively to become (and stay) MAS TRM-compliant, while automating various tasks involved from one place. 

 

Our platform has the MAS TRM program built-in. 

 

This means, in a few clicks, you can invite your team and work collaboratively to become (and stay) MAS TRM-compliant, while automating various tasks involved from one place.

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Automate MAS TRM Compliance

Begin the MAS TRM compliance journey in a few clicks. Automate the entire process in one place.

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  • Third Party Risk Management
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Pramodh Rai

Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Continuous Control Monitoring

Enterprise Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring Examples

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Examples of using cybersecurity continuous controls monitoring (CCM) for enterprises revolve around three core areas: 

  1. Compliance automation
  2. Cyber threats’ remediation
  3. Vendor risk management. 

 

Across these core areas, lots of activities go into implementing an effective cybersecurity CCM program. This piece will discuss examples in these areas. You’ll also see how enterprise security teams simplify implementation processes with a cybersecurity CCM tool.

 

Before we get to those…

 

Why Is Cybersecurity Continuous Monitoring Important?

 

Two main reasons: 

  1. You get real-time visibility into your company’s internal controls and cybersecurity infrastructure for taking timely security actions. 
  2. It increases your security team’s productivity.

 

Gartner’s research corroborates: 

 

Gartner’s research corroborates

 

Beyond its importance, if implemented properly, the benefits of CCM are enormous. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and enterprise tech execs leverage it to unlock benefits such as:

  • Enhanced visibility  
  • Early threat detection
  • Proactive incident response
  • Continuous compliance, and
  • More effective risk management:

 

Benefits of CCM

 

But there’s a caveat. 

 

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to attain these benefits without properly implementing cybersecurity CCM. And that’s because continuous controls monitoring has a whopping seven (7) lifecycle implementation phases: 

 

seven (7) lifecycle implementation phases:

 

If you’re just getting started, knowing this is crucial before trying to replicate examples. To help you, we created this cybersecurity CCM checklist relied on by enterprise CISOs and tech execs.

 

Grab a free copy below. It’d help your security team implement CCM properly, as you aim to replicate the examples that follow: 

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The Enterprise Cybersecurity CCM Checklist

Enterprise security execs use this checklist to effectively implement cybersecurity continuous monitoring (CCM).

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Enterprise Examples of Continuous Control Monitoring

 

Gartner notes that:

 

The highlight above brings us to the first example (and prominent use case) of continuous control monitoring in cybersecurity: 

 

1. Compliance Automation 

 

There are numerous privacy laws and regulatory frameworks enterprise orgs must be compliant with today. From global programs such as SOC 2, GDPR, ISO 27001, to local ones like CCPA in California or Singapore’s Cyber Essentials Mark, the list goes on. 

 

Here’s the most challenging part. 

 

Each of these frameworks, whether global or local, has dozens of mandatory security controls. Ensuring each control is working as required by policy, as Gartner notes, is the only way a company remains compliant. And to achieve this, automating the entire compliance processes across all programs is necessary. 

 

That’s a perfect example (and use case) of continuous, automated monitoring of compliance controls. With a pure-play cybersecurity CCM platform, enterprise security teams are able to manage multiple security controls and compliance audits smoothly. 

 

Take the team at Speedoc: 

 

James Yeo - quote

 

Read the example (and use case) of Speedoc here

 

2. Cyber Threats’ Remediation

 

Cyber threats could be external, from hackers looking for misconfiguration to exploit in your IT systems. It could also be internal, from your employees leaving vulnerabilities through which cyber thieves can exploit and steal critical data. 

 

As a result, there’s a need to have a comprehensive overview of your IT, network, and cloud assets. Specifically, you want to continuously find and fix misconfigurations or user behaviors that could lead to data breaches. Doing both simultaneously is how your security team can better secure company and users’ information. This is another example (and critical use case) of a cybersecurity CCM platform. 

 

Speedoc leans on Cyber Sierra for this, too:

 

James Yeo - case study

 

3. Vendor Risk Management

 

Vendors will go the extra mile, checking off all security requirements to win a company’s business. But don’t trust them to consistently secure company data once they become part of your company’s 3rd party ecosystem. 

 

This makes ongoing vendor assessments a vital example (and use case) of cybersecurity continuous control monitoring. Using a CCM platform with vendor risk management capabilities, enterprises monitor vendors’ security posture in real-time. 

 

Consider this global bank using Cyber Sierra: 

 

global singapore bank quote

 

More on this example (and use case) here

 

Automating Cybersecurity Continuous Monitoring Activities In One Platform

 

Done separately, each example of using cybersecurity continuous control monitoring comes with loads of activities. But with an interoperable cybersecurity CCM platform, activities related to monitoring of controls can be automated from one place. This saves your security team more time to focus on more strategic endeavors of securing the company. 

 

Say you wanted to instill automation in your enterprise compliance management and continuously monitor controls. With Cyber Sierra, you get access to all the popular compliance programs, along with each one’s mandatory policies (1) and security controls (2): 

 

Governance - Policies

 

It doesn’t end there.

 

Our platform even automates the process of continuously monitoring security controls of all implemented compliance programs. This enables your compliance team to get notified whenever there are control breaks.

 

Here’s a peek:

 

enterprise compliance management

 

As shown, activities this streamlines in one view include: 

  1. Monitoring control breaks of all compliance programs
  2. Viewing details of each control break
  3. Getting tips for remediating each control break, or
  4. Assigning remediation members of your security team. 

 

CCM activities related to cyber threats’ remediation and vendor risk management also need to be automated. And with Cyber Sierra, your security team can monitor a range of controls from the same place. 

 

Take cyber threats’ remediation. 

 

Our platform lets you integrate and connect all IT, network, and cloud assets used across your organization. Once integrated, it continuously monitor and pulls data into a Risk Register, where misconfigurations and user behaviors that could cause breaches are flagged in real-time:

 

Our platform lets you integrate and connect all IT, network, and cloud assets used across your organization. Once integrated, it continuously monitor and pulls data into a Risk Register, where misconfigurations and user behaviors that could cause breaches are flagged in real-time:

 

Once integrated, it continuously monitor and pulls data into a Risk Register, where misconfigurations and user behaviors that could cause breaches are flagged in real-time

 

In this view, our Risk Register detected a vulnerable control break (3) by a user (2) of the GSuite cloud asset (1) automatically. 

 

Last but not least are continuous control monitoring activities for third-party risk management. Identifying and mitigating vendor risks can be a handful, as your team must analyze, assess, and monitor 3rd parties’ security postures in real-time. This is why we built Cyber Sierra to enable enterprise security teams to do it all in one place. 

 

Our platform’s TPRM capability automatically and continuously assesses evidence of security controls uploaded by vendors. It is also intelligent enough to flag vendors whose evidence fail verification: 

 

Our platform’s TPRM capability automatically and continuously assesses evidence of security controls uploaded by vendors

 

Automate Continuous Monitoring Activities

 

The activities involved in cybersecurity continuous control monitoring can be daunting, especially if tackled manually or from different tools. But by automating them from a single platform, enterprises can constantly monitor and get full visibility needed for the proper implementation of security controls. 

 

That’s a reason executives at enterprise tech companies rely on a pure-play cybersecurity CCM platform like Cyber Sierra. One example is Aditya Anand, the CTO of Hybr1d. Their security team monitors and gets full visibility of security controls with our platform. 

 

In Anand’s own words:

 

Anand Quote - Hybrid

 

Hybr1d demonstrates that the many activities of cybersecurity CCM can be automated with an interoperable platform like Cyber Sierra. 

 

Your team can achieve the same:

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Automate Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring Activities

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  • Continuous Control Monitoring
  • CISOs
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  • Startup Founders
Pramodh Rai

Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Continuous Control Monitoring

Different Cybersecurity Controls and How to Implement Them

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The frequency at which cybercriminals are launching new —and more sophisticated— attacks will only increase. To buttress, imagine it takes you 5–7 mins to skim this article. In that short time, hackers would’ve targeted the cybersecurity infrastructures of over 33 enterprises. 

 

And that’s by 2021 estimates:

 

hackers would’ve targeted the cybersecurity infrastructures of over 33 enterprises

 

As the predictions reveal, by 2031, enterprise organizations would be cyberattacked every two seconds. Given this alarming frequency, how can enterprise security teams identify, investigate, and counter-attacks at the pace of cyber thieves?

 

Joseph MacMillan; CISSP, CCSP, CISA, gave a clue

 

Joseph MacMillan - Quote

 

I wrote this article to help proactive CISOs and Enterprise Security Leaders like you heed this crucial advice. We’d evaluate cybersecurity control types and go through how your security team can implement the right ones with Cyber Sierra. 

 

But first: 

 

What are Cybersecurity Controls? 

 

Cybersecurity controls are measures used by security teams to detect, prevent, and remediate cyber threats. Creating, implementing, and enforcing them ensures the cybersecurity CIA triad —confidentiality, integrity, and availability)— of your company’s IT assets:

 

the cybersecurity CIA triad —confidentiality, integrity, and availability)— of your company’s IT assets

 

As illustrated, without the proper controls, achieving the cybersecurity CIA triad is difficult, if not impossible. The rise of cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM) is as a result of this. Today, enterprises mustn’t just strive to have the right cybersecurity controls, but you must monitor them continuously to always ensure proper implementation. 

 

So for the rest of this article, we’d: 

  1. Evaluate types of cybersecurity controls
  2. Go through how to implement and monitor them. 

 

Before that: 

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Types of Cybersecurity Controls for Enterprises

 

All cybersecurity controls revolve around four essentials: People, technology, processes, and strategy. This means you must: 

 

  1. Have the right people on your security team 
  2. Empower them with the right technology 
  3. Institute the right security processes, and 
  4. Have a strategy that tracks the right security metrics. 

 

Across the four essentials outlined above, all control types can be categorized under the core pillars of cybersecurity: 

 

  • Governance and compliance
  • Cyber threat remediation
  • Vendor risk management 

 

Governance and compliance controls 

 

Continuously meeting all industry and government regulations is now a prerequisite for gaining customers’ and investors’ trust. To this end, having the required governance and compliance controls does two crucial things for your enterprise organization: 

 

  • They help you achieve compliance for highly-sought standards like SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, PCI DSS, and others. 
  • They also help your company continuously improve those controls to remain compliant as new changes emerge. 

 

But the challenge: How do you know the specific controls required for each compliance standard your company must attain? 

 

Each compliance program has dozens of policies, requiring multiple dozens of security controls to be in place. SOC 2, for instance, has 23 mandatory policies and over 96 cybersecurity controls. Creating, tracking, and implementing each can be a stretch, especially when you add those from other programs like ISO 27001, GDPR, and so on. 

 

But with Cyber Sierra, your security team gets a centralized view of all compliance program policies and their corresponding controls: 

 

But with Cyber Sierra, your security team gets a centralized view of all compliance program policies and their corresponding controls

 

From the view shown above, you can evaluate: 

 

  1. All the mandatory policies for all the compliance programs your company must become compliant with, and
  2. Each control required under every policy. 

 

Your security team can also implement these controls on the same pane with Cyber Sierra. This is why executives at enterprise companies trust the capabilities of our platform. 

 

Take Hemant Kumar of Aktivolabs

 

Hemant Kumar of Aktivolabs

 

More on Aktivolabs’ success story here. 

 

Cyber threats’ remediation controls

 

One of the ways cybercriminals exploit companies is through loopholes and vulnerabilities in their network and IT assets. To stay one step ahead, enterprise security teams must: 

 

  • Continuously scan their network and cloud assets for threats.
  • Implement controls for detecting and remediating them. 

 

With Cyber Sierra, your team can accomplish both. 

 

Our platform lets you integrate and connect all your network, Kubernetes, and cloud assets for continuous scanning. Through our Risk Register, you also get cybersecurity controls from vulnerabilities related to all scanned assets automatically implemented. This means your team can focus on identifying and remediating control breaks: 

 

Risk Register

 

As shown, Cyber Sierra’s Risk Register automatically detected a vulnerable control break (3) by a user (2) of the GSuite cloud asset (1). 

 

Vendor Risk Management Controls

 

Third-party vendors, while crucial to all enterprises’ operations, introduce lots of cybersecurity risks. According to Joseph Kelly, EY’s Third Party Risk Leader, enterprise security teams have no option than to find a way to deal with the risks they introduce: 

 

Joseph Kelly - Quote

 

To answer the question Joseph raised…

 

Have vendor risk management controls for identifying, managing, and mitigating vendor risks. Specifically, you must analyze, assess, and monitor 3rd parties’ security postures in real-time. Your team can achieve this with a platform that automatically assesses evidence of security controls defined by your company. Such a platform should also be intelligent enough to flag vendors who fail verification for immediate remediation. 

 

Cyber Sierra does both out of the box

 

Cyber Sierra does both out of the box

 

How to Ease Cybersecurity Controls’ Implementation

 

Using a centralized platform eases the implementation of all cybersecurity controls. The reason is that cybersecurity controls aren’t mutually exclusive. For instance, those required by compliance programs affect cyber threats’ remediation from cloud assets and third-party risk management. 

 

Research by EY confirmed this. 

 

Their study found that companies using a centralized platform performed vendor risk control assessments much faster

 

2023 EY Global Third-Party Risk Management Survey - In-content highlight design

 

Done with an automated, centralized platform like Cyber Sierra, enterprise companies can even do more. For instance, a global bank leveraging our platform was able to streamline their entire workflow. 

 

A snippet of their success story reads

 

a global bank in singapore

 

It doesn’t end there. 

 

Other cybersecurity controls are better implemented with a centralized, automated platform. Take the ongoing implementation of governance and compliance program controls. With a platform like Cyber Sierra, enterprise security teams get two benefits. 

 

First, all controls of compliance programs you need to become compliant with are auto-consolidated into a single dashboard:

 

all controls of compliance programs you need to become compliant with are auto-consolidated into a single dashboard

 

 

As shown, from this pane, you can: 

  1. See what programs a control is attached to
  2. View and update evidence of having that control
  3. Assign control implementation to team members
  4. Add new compliance program controls as they emerge. 

 

Second, after initial implementation, our platform automatically monitors and flags all control breaks for immediate remediation. 

 

Here’s a peek:  

 

after initial implementation, our platform automatically monitors and flags all control breaks for immediate remediation.

 

From here you can easily: 

 

  1. Monitor control breaks across all compliance programs
  2. View details of each control break
  3. Get action tips for remediating each control break, or
  4. Assign their remediation to anyone on your security team. 

 

Implement Cybersecurity Controls with Ease

 

A point worth re-stressing is that cybersecurity controls aren’t mutually exclusive. The controls you need for becoming and staying compliant to governance and compliance programs relate to your internal risk management controls. To this end, it makes sense to constantly implement and monitor all controls from a single platform. 

 

Aditya Anand shared how the security team at Hybr1d achieves both with Cyber Sierra’s intelligent, interoperable cybersecurity platform. 

 

In his words

 

Aditya Anand

 

Hybr1d shows that to easily implement and monitor cybersecurity controls, enterprise companies should consider using an automated, interoperable platform like Cyber Sierra.

 

And you can start with a free demo:

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Implement & Monitor All Cybersecurity Controls with Ease

Get a 100% free demo to see how Cyber Sierra eases the entire process of implementing and monitoring cybersecurity controls.

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Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Continuous Control Monitoring

Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring Process Steps Simplified for Enterprise CISOs

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Work-related stress has long been the bane of enterprise security execs, mainly chief information security officers (CISOs). For instance, in Nominet’s 2020 research, 90% of CISOs said work-related stress affected their wellbeing and personal lives. 

 

Years after, the situation isn’t getting better.

 

Threat actors are becoming more advanced by the day. As a result, securing a company’s IT assets, employees, IP, and so on, will only get harder. This has led to higher stress levels, as this recent study found: 

 

Cynet's 2023 CISO Stress Study

 

Realistically, you can’t wave a magic wand and remove all work-related stress. It is built into the fabric of leading an enterprise security team. However, you can drastically reduce it by simplifying the cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM) process steps. 

 

That’s what we’re delving into today. But first, let’s establish…

 

What Enterprise Continuous Control Monitoring Process Is

 

A cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM) process is a collective of the action steps taken to stay one level above cybercriminals. The whole idea is to achieve the golden rule: Prevention is better than cure. 

 

Says SANS Institute Director, John Davis:

 

John Davis - Quote

 

John couldn’t say it better. 

 

And that’s because with an effective CCM process: 

  • You can keep an ongoing watch on security controls across company assets with less stress. 
  • Your enterprise security team can remediate vulnerabilities before threat actors exploit them. 

 

To achieve these benefits, follow the steps discussed below. But if you’re new to this, I recommend you also get this cybersecurity continuous control monitoring checklist:

 

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The Enterprise Cybersecurity CCM Checklist

Enterprise security execs use this checklist to implement cybersecurity continuous monitoring (CCM).

Continuous Security Monitoring Process Steps

 

Four steps enable the cybersecurity CCM process: 

 

Four steps enable the cybersecurity CCM process:

 

1. Consolidate and Integrate Data from Tools

 

The first step towards achieving CCM is to integrate data from all tools prone to misconfigurations and vulnerabilities into a single platform. This includes critical cloud assets and business tools used across your organization:

 

Consolidate and Integrate Data from Tools

 

Integrating and connecting apps will enable your team to maintain an undated cloud asset inventory. Done with an intelligent, interoperable cybersecurity platform like Cyber Sierra, you get: 

  • Granular data segmentation of integrated assets.
  • Continuous monitoring of misconfigurations.

 

More on Cyber Sierra as we proceed. 

 

2. Establish Governance of Security Controls

 

All risk management compliance programs have security controls that must be in place for an organization to attain and remain compliant. This is true for SOC2, ISO27001, GDPR, and others. 

 

So establishing governance enables your team to know what security controls to prioritize and continuously monitor across programs. 

 

And doing this is easy with Cyber Sierra: 

 

Establish Governance of Security Controls

 

As shown, our intelligent cybersecurity platform automatically aggregates security controls from all implemented compliance programs into one view. From this holistic view, you can: 

  1. See programs a security control is attached to. 
  2. View evidences of having that control in place. 
  3. Assign critical controls to key members of your security team.
  4. Easily create and add new controls to your cybersecurity governance.  

 

3. Automate Vendor Risks’ Assessments

 

Third-party vendors can introduce risks that undermine your cybersecurity continuous control monitoring efforts. To buttress, research by Verizon revealed that

 

Worse, it can take up to 277 days for organizations to detect risks from 3rd-parties, according to IBM.

 

Worse, it can take up to 277 days for organizations to detect risks from 3rd-parties, according to IBM. One way to mitigate this as part of the cybersecurity continuous control monitoring process is to automate vendor risks’ assessments

 

Cyber Sierra enables your team to do this. For instance, our platform auto-assess evidence of security controls uploaded by 3rd-parties. It also consolidates everything into a single view, where your team can track evidence that failed verifications. 

 

Here’s a sneak peek:  

 

 our platform auto-assess evidence of security controls uploaded by 3rd-parties

 

4. Streamline Security Awareness Training

 

Employees across an entire organization form an important, if not the most important, component of all cybersecurity processes. And continuous control monitoring is no exception.

 

Ongoing security awareness training is therefore essential for educating employees on the steps outlined above. It is also crucial for equipping them on implementing the ever-changing CCM process. 

 

Kevin Turner corroborates

 

Kevin Turner - Quote

 

Cyber Sierra streamlines this in a way that makes sense for enterprise security execs. On the same platform, you can: 

  1. Launch new regular cybersecurity training 
  2. Monitor ongoing training to ensure employees complete them and stay informed on their responsibilities in achieving continuous control monitoring: 

 

Security Awareness Training

 

All through the four cybersecurity continuous control monitoring process steps, I showed how our platform helps. Consolidating multiple security tools on a single platform like Cyber Sierra reduces stress for CISOs and enterprise security execs. 

 

Cynet’s CISO Study confirmed this: 

 

Cynet’s CISO Study confirmed this: using multiple tools on a single platform can reduces the work stress

 

Using an enterprise cybersecurity CCM system such as Cyber Sierra has other benefits, apart from just reducing stress for CISOs. 

 

Before we get to those advantages:

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Ease the Cybersecurity CCM Steps

Access the core tools for achieving continuous control monitoring in one enterprise cybersecurity platform.

The Advantages of Enterprise Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring System

 

According to Narendra Sahoo

 

Narendra Sahoo - Quote

 

Sahoo’s take highlights the first advantage of using a cybersecurity continuous control monitoring system like Cyber Sierra. 

 

1. Near Real-Time Risk Monitoring

 

Being a pure-play cybersecurity CCM platform, Cyber Sierra has built-in, enterprise-grade capabilities. For instance, the holistic ‘Controls Dashboard’ enable your enterprise security team to continuously monitor controls in near real-time by: 

  • Integrated cloud asset categories or asset types
  • Custom or standard compliance programs implemented:

 

Custom or standard compliance programs implemented

 

As shown, consolidating all security controls into this dashboard enables near real-time risk monitoring. You can also track controls assigned to teammates from the same pane, making it way easier to fix control breaks.

 

2. Seamless Risk Remediation 

 

An effective cybersecurity continuous control monitoring process should detect threats, control breaks, and promptly remediate them. Achieving this is seamless with Cyber Sierra. 

 

From all controls in your security governance, our platform automatically detects and pulls control breaks into a separate view: 

 

Seamless Risk Remediation

 

From this view, you can easily assign control breaks for prompt remediation and tracking. Another way Cyber Sierra enables seamless risk management and remediation is through its Risk Register. 

 

Enterprise security teams use it to continuously:

  1. Detect IT assets with misconfigurations and vulnerabilities.
  2. Examine all security controls linked to such assets.
  3. Check the control breaks and assign remediation: 

 

Risk Register

 

Enterprise tech executives trust Cyber Sierra for simplifying their cybersecurity processes due to the advantages mentioned above. One, out of many examples, is Aditya Anand, the CTO of Hybr1d. 

 

In his testimony, Aditya raved:

 

Enterprise tech executives trust Cyber Sierra for simplifying their cybersecurity processes due to the advantages mentioned above. One, out of many examples, is Aditya Anand, the CTO of Hybr1d.

 

Read Hybr1d’s case study

 

Simplify Cybersecurity CCM Process Steps

 

To recap, our recommended cybersecurity CCM process steps are: 

  1. Consolidate and integrate data from tools.
  2. Establish governance of security controls.
  3. Automate vendor risks’ assessments, and
  4. Streamline security awareness training. 

 

Typically, each of these steps required a different software product. But most tools often don’t work well together, making the process more complex and stressful for enterprise security leaders. 

 

To solve this, our platform consolidates the core capabilities required into an intelligent, interoperable cybersecurity platform. This way, you can simplify the entire cybersecurity continuous control monitoring process steps from one place:

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Simplify the Cybersecurity CCM Process

Access the core tools for simplifying the continuous control monitoring process in one enterprise cybersecurity platform.

  • Continuous Control Monitoring
  • CISOs
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Pramodh Rai

Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Continuous Control Monitoring

Cybersecurity CCM Tools Recommended for Enterprise Companies

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According to Gartner:

 

Gartner quotes

 

This is a not-so-good situation for two reasons:  

  • On the one hand, GRC vendors may not offer the full scale of capabilities required to effectively achieve CCM. 
  • On the other hand, CCM tools that can’t address a broad array of threats often end up working in isolation. 

In other words, a half-baked or point continuous control monitoring tool working in isolation isn’t worth it, per IBM’s Charles Henderson:

 

Charles Henderson - Quote

 

A solution to this?

 

An Interoperable CCM Platform

Most CCM platforms have full scale continuous control monitoring capabilities. But as Henderson stressed, implementing another point solution isn’t worth it. They often end up posing a threat to efficient cybersecurity. EY’s Asia-Pacific Cybersecurity Consulting Leader, Richard J. Watson corroborates

 

Richard J. Watson - Quote

 

So to help enterprises achieve continuous control monitoring without cluttering their tech stacks, we built Cyber Sierra. You get a pure-play CCM platform with built-in capabilities for remediating other cybersecurity challenges interoperably. 

For instance, with our Controls Dashboard, enterprise teams can continuously monitor security controls by:

  • Asset categories or asset types
  • Compliance programs or frameworks:

 

 As shown, you can assign risks associated with control breaks to teammates and monitor remediation status in real-time

 

 As shown, you can assign risks associated with control breaks to teammates and monitor remediation status in real-time. And with other built-in functionalities, achieving continuous control monitoring while addressing core cybersecurity challenges interoperably is possible. 

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The Interoperable CCM Platform

Achieve continuous control monitoring while addressing core cybersecurity challenges interoperably.

An interoperable CCM platform like Cyber Sierra is optimal for CISOs and enterprise security execs looking to achieve more with less. To show you how it compares, let’s walk through some cybersecurity CCM tools recommended by Gartner. 

 

Enterprise Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring (CCM) Tools Gartner Recommends

In their cybersecurity CCM study, Gartner recommended ten tools. We streamlined the list to five exclusive to CCM based on conversations with customers, prospects, and enterprise security experts. 

 

Panaseer

 

Panaseer

 

The Panaseer CCM tool ingests data from security, cloud and on-premise IT and business tools. The software then normalizes, augments and correlates this data, giving security teams: 

  • Continuous visibility of assets and controls status
  • Insights for prioritizing security resources
  • Automated security posture reports. 

According to Panaseer’s CCM feature page, they optimize and monitor controls across eight cybersecurity domains: 

  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Endpoint analysis
  • Patch analysis
  • Identify and access management
  • Privileged access management 
  • Security awareness management
  • Application security analysis, and 
  • Cloud security. 

Given these covered domains, the Panaseer CCM software is ideal for cyber asset and security controls’ management, reporting, and evidenced remediation. But it falls short in two crucial areas. 

  1. Enterprise security teams can’t use Panaseer to assess security risks from third-party vendors that can lead to control breaks.
  2. You can’t establish compliance governance and monitor corresponding security controls mapped to implemented compliance frameworks and policies. 

Cyber Sierra has these solutions built-in. 

For instance, with our platform your team can map and monitor controls for all implemented compliance programs: 

 

with our platform your team can map and monitor controls for all implemented compliance programs

 

Quod Orbis

Quod Orbis is another tool dedicated to CCM:

 

Quod Orbis

 

The software audits a company’s cloud assets and monitors risks and security controls continuously from data sources and compliance frameworks. Unlike Panaseer, Quod Orbis focuses more on monitoring the security controls of compliance programs. 

You get: 

  • Continuous compliance
  • Real-time compliance controls visibility
  • Enhanced security and compliance posture 
  • Cyber risk quantification, and
  • Expert-led management of their platform. 

Like Panaseer, you can’t track third-party risk assessments, provide, or monitor continuous employee security awareness training with Quod Orbis. And these are crucial for ensuring the security controls being monitored are adhered to by third-parties and employees. 

With Cyber Sierra, in addition to having core CCM capabilities, you can launch and monitor ongoing security awareness training: 

 

Training overview-cloud security

 

Metricstream

Positioned as ‘the connected GRC software,’ Metricstream offers continuous control monitoring capabilities for: 

  • IT & Cyber Risk
  • Compliance
  • Audit, and
  • ESG:

 

Metricstream

 

As shown above, Metricstream is more of a GRC solution with continuous control monitoring features for:

  1. Gaining a unified, real-time view of risks, threats, and vulnerabilities for effective risk and IT control assessments.
  2. Staying on top of evolving regulatory requirements relevant to compliance risks, policies, cases, and controls.

Like the others, two areas where Metricstream is lacking are vendor risk assessment monitoring and ongoing employee security awareness training. You need both to ensure security controls being monitored are adhered to by vendors and employees. 

Another reason to consider a cybersecurity CCM platform like Cyber Sierra with such capabilities built-in. 

 

JupiterOne 

This tool has extensive integration for various apps used across different categories by enterprises. To that effect, JupiterOne is mainly a cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) solution with continuous compliance monitoring capabilities:

 

JupiterOne

 

With this tool, security teams can have vulnerabilities from their cloud assets ingested and normalized in a single platform. 

You get: 

  • Cloud asset inventory
  • Granular data segmentation of integrated assets
  • Continuous compliance, and
  • Graph-based context. 

The graph-based context is JupiterOne’s stand-out feature. Security leaders use it to view the connections between their cloud assets, constantly monitor, and identify any risks involved. Without this feature, JupiterOne would probably not be considered a continuous control monitoring tool. 

And that’s because it mainly collects and normalizes assets’ data, maps out cloud assets relationships, and provides visibility. Being an interoperable pure-play CCM platform, Cyber Sierra does these out of the box. 

We even have a more advanced graph-based context built-in: 

 

not only can you integrate and ingest data from your cloud assets to Cyber Sierra

 

As shown, not only can you integrate and ingest data from your cloud assets to Cyber Sierra. But in a graph-based context you can also:

  1. View how each asset connects to others.
  2. Monitor vulnerabilities between connected assets. 
  3. Track security controls broken by specific users of those assets. 

 

RiskOptics

Formerly Reciprocity, RiskOptics bears similarities to Metricstream being that it is more of a GRC platform: 

 

RiskOptics

 

However, RiskOptics’ ROAR (Risk Observation, Assessment and Remediation) feature offers some continuous control monitoring capabilities. It is mainly suited for monitoring and providing insights for closing control gaps in implemented compliance frameworks. 

The tool does that in two ways:

  • Reducing audit fatigue by enabling teams to reuse controls and evidence across frameworks and continuously test control effectiveness, making organizations always audit-ready.
  • Connecting threats, vulnerabilities and risks, and continuously testing compliance and security controls to surface risks. 

RiskOptics does not offer the ability to monitor third-party risk assessments, provide or track continuous employee security awareness training, just like other CCM tools Gartner recommends. These are crucial because they ensure security controls being monitored are adhered to by third-parties and employees.  

Even though Cyber Sierra isn’t on Gartner’s recommended CCM tools (yet), the platform shines in those areas. Ours is an enterprise-grade pure-play CCM system that also solves other cybersecurity monitoring and remediation challenges interoperably. 

 

Advantages of a Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring System Like Cyber Sierra 

Continuous control monitoring wasn’t added to Cyber Sierra as an afterthought or in response to the growing demand. Unlike other platforms, our CCM feature isn’t built separately. You get full-scale continuous control monitoring capabilities built into core cybersecurity areas like: 

  • Governance and compliance
  • Managing cloud assets
  • Risk management and remediation

 

Governance and Compliance

Here, continuous monitoring of security controls associated with compliance programs, frameworks, and policies happens in two ways. Cyber Sierra first consolidates controls from all implemented security governance and compliance programs into one view. From there, it automatically monitors and adds any control that breaks into a dedicated view for easier discovery and remediation: 

 

Enterprise teams use this to monitor security controls relative to compliance programs and integrated cloud assets

 

Second, you also get a more comprehensive ‘Controls Dashboard’ under governance. Enterprise teams use this to monitor security controls relative to compliance programs and integrated cloud assets. 

Here’s a sneak peek:

 

As shown, you can assign risks associated with control breaks to teammates and monitor remediation status in real-time

 

Managing Cloud Assets

Enterprise security teams can integrate and maintain a holistic inventory of all cloud assets used with Cyber Sierra. But to enable the management of risks and vulnerabilities from those assets, our platform takes it one step further. 

You get a Risk Dashboard to continuously monitor risks by asset categories and security control breaks by asset types:

 

Managing Cloud Assets

 

As shown, the risk heat map gives your team a unified view of all critical to low risks mapped to all affected cloud assets. 

 

Risk Management and Remediation

The whole purpose of continuous monitoring is to detect, manage, and remediate risks proactively. To do that, a CCM platform shouldn’t just enable enterprise teams to monitor controls. It should facilitate the remediation of risks associated with monitored controls. 

Cyber Sierra’s Risk Register enables that. 

With it, enterprise security teams can scan all integrated assets (it takes ~10 mins) to: 

  • Identify assets that are vulnerable to threats.
  • See a breakdown of security controls linked to those assets. 
  • Easily check the control break in one button click: 

 

enterprise security teams can scan all integrated assets

 

Implement an Interoperable CCM Tool 

Cyber Sierra consolidates the core capabilities for cybersecurity continuous control monitoring into one interoperable technology platform. This is recommended, according to EY’s 2023 Global Cybersecurity Leadership Insights Study. 

A key finding of the study went: 

 

EY - In-content highlight design

 

Based on this, achieving cybersecurity continuous control monitoring with a consolidated platform is logical. And with Cyber Sierra, you get one that monitors and detects incidents efficiently while also tackling other cybersecurity challenges. 

Imagine your team doing more with less.

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Do More With Less

Achieve continuous control monitoring through a consolidated platform with built-in capabilities for tackling other cybersecurity challenges.

  • Continuous Control Monitoring
  • CISOs
  • CTOs
  • Cybersecurity Enthusiasts
  • Enterprise Leaders
  • Startup Founders
Pramodh Rai

Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Governance & Compliance

Here’s How to Automate Enterprise Compliance Management

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SOC 2, ISO 27001, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and so on.

I know. The number of cybersecurity and privacy laws enterprises must attain and stay compliant with can be daunting. Especially if your company operates across multiple jurisdictions. Regardless, Hui Chen, a renowned ethics and corporate compliance leader, advised against treating them like a box-checking exercise. 

Hui’s co-authored piece for HBR noted:

 

Hui Chen - Quote

 

You’re probably wondering: 

So how can CISOs and IT Executives achieve effectiveness and stop treating compliance like a box-checking exercise? One such way is implementing and managing your enterprise compliance programs holistically. Experts call it enterprise compliance management

And it has two key areas: 

 

Key Areas of Enterprise Compliance Management

Starting with its top-level definition

 

Tzvika Sharaf - Quote

 

To extend Tzvika Sharaf’s succinct definition, the creation of such high-level workflow must address two key areas: 

  1. External compliance revolves around regulation and rules imposed on a company by the industry or government of the jurisdictions it operates in. For example, per the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), if a company misplaces customer personal information from the European Union (EU), they are mandated to provide notification of this mishap within 72 hours.
  2. Internal compliance, on the other hand, is how an enterprise organization responds to and works within the confines of externally imposed compliance regulations. 

So for effective enterprise compliance management, you don’t just need well-defined procedures and policies. These should address both internal and external requirements peculiar to each compliance program your enterprise company implements. Achieving that requires centralization, according to Deloitte

 

Deloitte -quote

 

The second challenge: 

How do you achieve this needed centralization?

For the rest of this guide, I’d walk you through three pillars you should centralize with technology for that. You’ll also see how Cyber Sierra’s governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) suite automates and makes everything seamless.

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Three Pillars of Enterprise Compliance Management

  1. Programs, 
  2. People, and
  3. Processes. 

Those are the three pillars of enterprise compliance.

Per Deloitte’s report cited above, these pillars must be centralized with a system that enables each to function efficiently and effectively: 

 

Pillars of Enterprise Compliance Management

 

1. Programs

The first step in enterprise compliance management is choosing programs to implement and in what order. Both criteria are crucial to avoid treating compliance like a box-checking exercise, as Hui advised against. 

Two reasons for that are: 

  • Choosing the right programs ensures your company adheres to industry- and location-specific compliance regulations.
  • Implementing compliance programs in the right order makes the process easier to navigate and manage for your company.

For instance, if your company handles financial and personal data of European-based customers, PCI DSS and GDPR are a necessity. On the other hand, although ISO 27001 and SOC 2 aren’t compulsory, they are widely recognized and can ease your team’s implementation of other programs. 

The order of importance differs depending on whether your company handles health information of customers. In that case, HIPAA is a compliance program to also prioritize. In some cases, it may be necessary to first implement internal compliance and security controls to guide data security management across your company. 

Navigating all this can be gruesome. 

Which is where a tool with extensive GRC capabilities is crucial. With Cyber Sierra, for instance, choosing and implementing enterprise compliance programs is streamlined. You can implement internal cybersecurity compliance controls. And your security team can also start with widely recognized compliance programs like SOC 2, GDPR, and ISO 27001 that ease the implementation of all other programs.

All from one dashboard: 

All from one dashboard - programs

 

2. People

Effective compliance management starts with people —your security team and employees across the organization. When grounded and empowered to adhere to all cybersecurity compliance requirements, they can be your greatest asset for staying compliant. Otherwise, they can be your biggest burden and window to data security breaches.

To stress the point: 

leading to these data security breaches and compliance failures include:

 

human element involve in data breach

 

Per this Verizon study, dominant incidents 

Employees mis-configuring a database and directly exposing information, and

  • Employees making errors that enable cybercriminals to access privileged information in a company’s systems.

Here’s why I’m addressing the ‘people’ pillar in enterprise compliance management from the angle of your entire company employees. Having a Director of Compliance and managers to oversee the implementation of compliance programs is crucial. However, if all employees aren’t trained on being compliant, the chances of getting breached and facing non-compliance fines remain high.

It’s why in a Forbes article, Justin Rende wrote

 

Justin Rende - Quote

 

It is also important for ongoing security awareness training to cut across all implementable compliance programs. This streamlines the training experience for the staff without overwhelming them with new training for each program. 

But that’s not all. 

Executives need to track all staff training, so they can follow up and ensure they are being completed. This is where an interoperable cybersecurity platform like Cyber Sierra comes in:

 

Executives need to track all staff training, so they can follow up and ensure they are being completed

 

As shown, your team can launch staff-wide ongoing security awareness training that cuts across all compliance programs. More importantly, executives like you get a dashboard to monitor how employees are completing them on our platform, too. 

 

3. Processes

Processes are crucial for managing enterprise compliance. First, they create a culture of transparency on how to implement programs. Second, processes ensure accountability within your team and promotes a methodical approach to compliance management.  

Essentially, processes guide employees through the decision-making and actions needed to attain and stay compliant. And aid in documenting and creating audit trails required to demonstrate compliance to auditors, stakeholders, and regulators. 

For instance, you need efficient processes for: 

  • Continuous risk assessments 
  • Internal and external security audits 
  • Compliance programs’ policy development 
  • Mapping security controls to each compliance program
  • Ongoing risk monitoring, scoring, mitigation, and so on. 

But each of these processes must be meticulous and adjusted as the regulatory compliance landscape evolves. This is why corporate compliance experts recommend the automation of these processes.

 

Ben Pedrazzini - Quote

 

With an intelligent, unified platform like Cyber Sierra, crucial compliance program processes are automated out of the box. For instance, our platform maintains auto-updated versions of policies mapped to different compliance programs: 

 

platform maintains auto-updated versions of policies mapped to different compliance programs

 

Having compliance policies in a central place like this cuts off all the gruesome manual work involved in effecting processes for creating, uploading, and maintaining them as the regulatory landscape evolves. 

 

Other Areas Automation Aids Compliance Management

Having a centralized enterprise compliance management system goes beyond enabling its pillars. Although this is crucial as shown so far, there are other areas where automation streamlines compliance management for the CISO and IT Executives. 

 

1. Compliance Controls’ Management

Compliance programs have dozens, and for some, hundreds of security controls that must be implemented. And as each compliance program evolves, evidence of each control must be updated to confirm that security measures are in place and avoid fines. 

Doing this at scale, considering there are hundreds of controls across compliance programs, requires a central place for tracking them:

 

Compliance Controls’ Management

 

As shown, Cyber Sierra has a robust compliance controls’ management dashboard. Having all controls auto-mapped to different programs like this streamlines the steps usually spent tracking and updating evidence in spreadsheets for your team. It also gives you, the executive, a way to monitor and view uploaded compliance controls’ evidence from one view. 

 

2. Risk Insights and Analysis

Negligence isn’t the sole cause of compliance issues. 

Often, failure to proactively identify and mitigate external risks from third-party vendors can result in breaching your compliance stance. In the words of a veteran CISO, Jay Pasteris

 

Jay Pasteris - Quote

 

To avoid this, it helps to manage your company’s compliance programs with an interoperable cybersecurity platform like Cyber Sierra. This is because our platform has capabilities for automating continuous 3rd party risk assessments and ongoing risk monitoring. 

 

Automate Enterprise Compliance Management

Managing enterprise compliance manually can be time-consuming and extremely challenging, often leading to costly inefficiencies. Also, it takes more than having software that streamlines becoming and staying compliant with specific programs. 

The need to map and manage security controls per compliance program is crucial. And so is the need to automate the process of continuously analyzing, identifying, and mitigating all third-party vendor risks. As shown so far, without these, all efforts toward compliance management could still lead to hefty fines. 

It is therefore necessary to automate the entire enterprise compliance management lifecycle with an interoperable cybersecurity platform like Cyber Sierra. Our platform enables the core pillars of enterprise compliance management and has capabilities for the other areas. 

And we’re on standby to give you a free tour: 

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Automate Your Entire Enterprise Compliance Management Lifecycle

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Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Third Party Risk Management

How Should Enterprise CISOs Structure TPRM Teams?

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‘How do I mitigate vendor risks?’

That’s a common question in my chats with CISOs and IT executives. Being a tech enthusiast and as stressed in previous guides, my usual suggestion is: Leverage technology and streamlined processes to: 

These are all crucial factors.

But often, CISOs come back seeking help on how best to build and structure their third-party risk management (TPRM) teams. Each time this happens, I’m reminded of these words by Dave Buster: 

 

Dave Buster - Quote

 

Dave couldn’t say it better. The right TPRM framework, technology, and automated processes won’t work on their own. So to mitigate risks in our ever-expanding vendor landscape, you need: 

  1. A dedicated vendor risk management team
  2. An effective TPRM reporting structure

Starting with the latter, I’d cover both in this guide. 

 

Third-Party Risk Management Reporting Structure

Get the right people, and you can rest assured your vendor risk management program is in good hands. Design an effective reporting structure for your TPRM team, and you can be sure the right info reaches you (and the C-Suite) at the right time. 

The challenge: 

What should such a TPRM reporting structure look like? 

It ultimately depends on your organization type and overall size of your cybersecurity team. Generally though, experts recommend a centralized TPRM reporting structure:

 

centralized TPRM reporting structure

 

As illustrated above, a centralized structure eliminates silos and can be more effective for two reasons:

  1. The CISO and Senior Management get real-time insight into how subteams are implementing the TPRM program. 
  2. Subteams overseeing various aspects of your TPRM program can track teammates’ actions and act proactively.

If this reporting structure makes sense to you, as it does for most enterprise security execs, the next hurdle I often hear is: What are the roles and responsibilities of subteams dedicated to each step? 

The rest of this guide addresses that. As we proceed, you’ll also see how our interoperable cybersecurity platform helps enterprise security teams automate and report critical TPRM processes

Before we dive in… 

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Enterprise TPRM Team Roles and Responsibilities 

When filling critical roles in your TPRM team and assigning responsibilities, diversity is highly recommended. The Institute of Critical Infrastructure Technology, in a study titled, “The Business Value of a Diverse InfoSec Team,” reiterated this. 

According to their research

 

The-Institute-of-Critical-Infrastructure-Technology-ICIT

 

So while the centralized reporting structure above helps, it is crucial to keep diversity in mind as you fill the TPRM roles below. 

 

TPRM Program Director/Manager

This individual or team owns the TPRM program. 

High-performers have a balance of demonstrable risk management skills, extensive training, experience, and the ability to coordinate all subteams. They report to you, the CISO, and usually, their primary responsibilities would be to help you:

  • Champion and advocate for the maturity of your TPRM program and develop key partnerships across the org to ensure alignment with your company’s overall 3rd party strategy.
  • Design and oversee the implementation of your TPRM framework and operating procedures needed to integrate necessary security controls per your business functions. 
  • Establish relevant TPRM program metrics, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Key Risk Indicators (KRIs), and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for managing all vendor risks. 
  • Design security guardrails for selecting vendors, and define security scores and controls 3rd parties must retain before they can be considered and let into your third-party ecosystem. 

 

Vendor Assessments & Onboarding Subteam

The core responsibility of specialist(s) on this subteam is enforcing the security guidelines defined by the TPRM Program Director, which new vendors must meet. Specifically, this includes: 

  • Vetting, profiling, and tiering vendors
  • Creating and implementing custom security audits or exams.
  • Choosing and right-sizing appropriate security assessment questionnaire templates for select vendors.
  • Onboarding vendors with acceptable security controls, etc. 

Imagine doing all that with this:

 

TPRM assessment Question

 

Josh Angert, Manager at Vendor Centric, observed how core functions of this subteam, if done manually with Excel, can lead to inconsistent vendor risk tiering, wasted time, and poor assessments. 

In his words:  

 

Josh Angert - Quote

 

As Josh advised, to curb vendor risk assessment bottlenecks, CISOs can leverage a vendor risk management system to standardize processes. 

That’s where Cyber Sierra comes in: 

 

vendor risk management system to standardize processes

 

As shown, our system streamlines the gruesome vendor tiering, assessment, and onboarding processes into three easy steps. For instance, your team can profile vendors based on their business type, location, and easily tier those requiring advanced assessments. 

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Automate Vendor Risk Assessments

Cyber Sierra streamlines crucial vendor assessment processes, so enterprise TPRM teams can compile reports faster.

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Vendor Risk Monitoring & Remediation Subteam

This subteam usually comprises risk detection and mitigation experts, each assigned to one or a group of vendors. They work closely with the security assessment subteam, share insights within each other, and report to the TPRM Program Director, or you, the CISO. 

Some core responsibilities include: 

  • Own assigned third-party vendors and manage their risks. 
  • Perform daily or weekly risk management tasks on assigned vendors, according to your company’s instituted TPRM program. 
  • Detect, mitigate, and report risks posed by third-parties, and work with them and the DevSecOps team to remediate the same. 
  • Flag third-parties that should be terminated, and in most cases, oversee the offboarding of flagged high-risk vendors. 

One way to empower this subteam is through software that enables ongoing vendor risk monitoring. This helps them identify vendors whose security controls become outdated and can’t be verified. 

Again, Cyber Sierra automates this: 

 

ongoing vendor risk monitoring

 

Our platform uses standardized enterprise security controls to auto-check evidence uploaded by vendors on an ongoing basis. As shown above, you get alerted of those that fail verification, flagging your team to immediately work with the vendor to enforce them. 

 

TPRM Program Auditors

According to Vikrant Rai

 

Vikranti Rai - Quote

 

In other words, having internal (and external) auditors is a must-have. They perform systematic evaluations of your company’s implemented TPRM framework, documentation, processes, and security controls. This enables them to document weaknesses that must be addressed and usually report directly to the CISOs, IT executives, and the TPRM Program Director/Manager. 

 

How Many People Should Be On My TPRM Team?

 There’s no magic number. 

Generally, the more vendors you manage, the more risk exposure your team may have to deal with, and the more people required. But all third-parties aren’t created equal. In a sample of, say, 200 vendors, only 5-10% (i.e., 10-20) may be high-risk or critical to your company’s operations. In a centralized reporting structure, where processes have been automated, 1-2 full-time employees (FTEs) on your risk monitoring and remediation subteam can manage such vendors closely, in addition to reviewing others occasionally. 

Going by this logic, the number of people you may need on your enterprise TPRM team should be around:

  • 1–3 FTEs for up to 200 vendors. 
  • 3–5 FTEs for 200 – 600 vendors. 
  • One (1) additional FTE for every 100–200 vendors beyond that. 

You may be wondering: 

How about the assessment and vendor onboarding subteam? 

Well, by automating processes with a tool like Cyber Sierra, your TPRM Director can vet, assess, and onboard vendors in a few steps because those critical to-dos have been streamlined. For instance, they can choose from standard security assessment questionnaires already built into our platform, customize per your company’s needs, and send to vendors: 

 

automating processes with a tool

 

Make Your TPRM Team More Effective

In a cybersecurity survey reported by Graphus:

 

cybersecurity survey reported by Graphus

 

This finding proves that, irrespective of how many full-time employees (FTEs) on your TPRM team or reporting structure, automation is needed to make them more effective.  

Third-party risk expert, Ian Terry, agrees

 

Ian Terry - Quote

 

We built Cyber Sierra to enable enterprise TPRM teams to achieve this needed automation and become more effective. From tiering critical vendors to continuous security assessments, and ongoing risk monitoring, our platform automates the steps required. 

Want to see it for yourself? 

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Automate Crucial Vendor Risk Management Process

Cyber Sierra streamlines crucial vendor assessment processes, so enterprise TPRM teams can compile reports faster.

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Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Continuous Control Monitoring

Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring: A Checklist for CISOs

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Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. And their growing sophistication is expanding the cyberattack landscape every quarter

 

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. And their growing sophistication is expanding the cyberattack landscape every quarter:

 

To outsmart them and secure enterprise organizations, security teams must adopt measures that proactively identify and mitigate vulnerabilities and attacks beforehand. Narendra Sahoo, CISA, reiterated how enterprise security teams can do this. 

He wrote

 

Narendra Sahoo - Quote

 

Gartner calls this recommended proactive measure cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM). Being a relatively new approach, it’s best for CISOs and enterprise security executives to begin by knowing what to include as they plan its implementation. 

We’ll cover that in this guide and explore an actionable checklist to help your security team get it right. But let’s start with the often-asked question…

 

What Should a Continuous Cybersecurity Monitoring Plan Include?

As defined by Gartner

 

Gartner Quote

 

Based on this definition, an effective continuous cybersecurity monitoring plan should, through technology and automation: 

  • Map and maintain awareness of all systems and IT assets across your company and third-party vendor ecosystem. 
  • Understand all emerging external threats and internal threat-related activities relative to established security controls. 
  • Collect, analyze, and provide actionable security-related info across all mapped IT assets, security frameworks, and compliance regulations. 
  • Integrate risk management and information security frameworks, and enable your security team to proactively manage risks. 

Automating the areas outlined above in your CCM plan ensures coverage for all steps of the typical CCM lifecycle phases:

 

control life cycle phases

 

But each phase of the CCM lifecycle above has many steps and, in some cases, substeps. This, in turn, makes their implementation something security teams need to meticulously follow, step-by-step. 

In the cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM) checklist below, we explore the steps in each phase. You’ll also see how Cyber Sierra, our interoperable cybersecurity and compliance automation platform, streamlines their implementation

Download the checklist to follow along: 

 

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The Enterprise Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring (CCM) Checklist

Implement Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring in your enterprise organization with this step-by-step checklist.

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Enterprise Cybersecurity Continuous Control Monitoring (CCM) Checklist 

 

Renowned Security Architect, Matthew Pascucci, advised

 

Matthew Pascucci

 

Matthew’s advice is spot on.

In short, it is the expected outcome of the first step of our CCM checklist. So let’s dive in. 

 

1. Analyze Continuous Control Objectives

Enterprises with any form of existing compliance and risk management process already have some form of security controls in place. If that’s your case, as it is with most enterprise organizations, achieving continuous monitoring of those security controls starts with analyzing your controls’ objectives.

You achieve this by initiating an extensive assessment of your organization’s compliance and cybersecurity controls. In other words, assess existing risks, cyber threats and vulnerabilities with a CCM platform.

The platform you choose should be able to:

  • Connect and map all the IT assets in your cloud and network environments, and those of third-party vendors. 
  • Outline and categorize all technical and non-technical security controls across mapped assets and environments.  
  • Integrate existing risk management, compliance, and information security frameworks to match outlined controls.
  • Identify vulnerabilities and gaps in existing security controls relative to mapped assets across cloud environments. 

You can automate these tasks with Cyber Sierra. First, connect and map IT assets used across your company and third-party vendor ecosystem by integrating them with Cyber Sierra: 

 

Analyze Continuous Control Objectives

 

After integrating, scan one, some, or all apps and systems used across your organization in a few clicks. Each time your team initiates a scan with Cyber Sierra, it not only performs a scan, but also performs a comprehensive risk assessment of the integrated IT assets. 

This is because our interoperable cybersecurity platform analyzes all integrated assets against standardized risk management, compliance, and information security frameworks in the background. This helps to detect and push vulnerabilities, cyber threats, and risks into your dashboard. 

Here’s a peek: 

 

 our interoperable cybersecurity platform analyzes all integrated assets against standardized risk management, compliance, and information security frameworks in the background

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Analyze Control Objectives and Implement Continuous Control Monitoring in One Place.

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2. Evaluate Controls’ Implementation Options 

What implementation options are feasible after analyzing the objectives of your controls through a comprehensive risk assessment? That’s the question your team must answer here.  

To do this: 

  • Review your company’s service portfolio to identify and determine what security controls are mission-critical.
  • Identify areas where additional resources (i.e., expertise, capital, training, etc.) are required for implementing continuous monitoring of mission-critical security controls, based on gaps found during the analysis and risk assessment phase.
  • Examine existing risk management, compliance, and information security procedures and processes to uncover what needs an upgrade to achieve continuous control monitoring. 

 

3. Determine Continuous Control Implementation

According to Steve Durbin, CEO of the Information Security Forum: 

 

Steve Dublin

 

Continuous control monitoring is a fast-paced process, where your security team must stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. So as observed by Steve, having a cohesive security architecture is essential for effective, consistent, and safe implementation. 

You can do this by: 

  • Developing a common language by creating standard terms and principles for implementing continuous control monitoring in your organization. This makes it clear for your security team and new members to understand what they should and should not do.
  • Establishing the objective and priority of each implemented or should-be implemented security control relative to your business goal(s). This helps everyone in your security team working on specific security controls to give it necessary priority. 
  • Determining and documenting acceptable approaches for implementing CCM. This helps your team know where to start, how to proceed, and the possible, acceptable outcome of each implemented or should-be implemented security control. 
  • Outlining the conditions and steps for adapting all mission-critical security controls being monitored.

 

4. Create Continuous Control Procedures

This step involves creating continuous security control procedures based on stardardard or customized cybersecurity policy frameworks. Examples of standard cybersecurity policy frameworks to create continuous control procedures from are NIST, ISO, SOC, etc. 

So for this step: 

  • Examine standard cybersecurity policy frameworks to identify security controls critical to your business. 
  • Create procedures for implementing controls identified from standard policy frameworks. 
  • Identify necessary security controls not available in the standard cybersecurity policy frameworks examined; then, create custom policies and procedures for implementing them. 

For the third sub-step, you’ll need a platform like Cyber Sierra that allows the upload of custom cybersecurity policies. Our compliance automation suite allows the creation of customized risk governance programs and uploading of custom control policies for them: 

 

Create Continuous Control Procedures

 

5. Deploy Continuous Control Instances

Implementing control instances operationalizes the cybersecurity controls established within the policy frameworks developed in the previous phase. 

This involves: 

  • Collaborating with your security operations team to implement continuous cybersecurity controls instances.
  • Implementing the security services needed to enforce and make defined control instances work. 
  • Providing evidence for evaluating adherence to established security controls, policies, and procedures. 

You may need to hire external expertise or launch employee security awareness training on deploying continuous control instances. Cyber Sierra can help with the latter:

 

all training

 

As shown, you can launch and track the completion of cybersecurity training programs relevant to implementing CCM with our employee Security Awareness module. 

 

6. Automate Security Controls’ Monitoring

This step is where the main functions of a cybersecurity continuous control monitoring (CCM) platform come to bare. So choose one that enables your security team to automatically: 

  • Monitor and test security controls based on defined procedures and implemented risk management and compliance policies.
  • Identify and score emerging threats according to their likely impact on your organization’s security program. 
  • Provides actionable information for your DevSecOps team to remediate threats and vulnerabilities in near-real-time. 

For a CCM platform to tick the boxes above, it must ingest data from your mapped IT assets against established security policies. It must also refresh this ingested data in real-time automatically, ensuring continuous monitoring of security controls. Finally, it must alert security teams of risks that could lead to a breach. 

The Risk Register on Cyber Sierra meets those requirements.

 

risk register

 

As shown, it detected threats in a GSuite asset category down to individual users. In this case, it refreshes ingested data in real-time, creating a threat alert and risk score whenever a user connects an unapproved external app with SSO to their GSuite. 

 

7. Optimize Continuous Controls’ Implementation

Continuous control monitoring is a never-ending process. 

As the threat landscape, risk management trends, and compliance regulation requirements evolve, so should your continuous control implementation. Also, as your organization grows or collaborates with new third-party vendors, your continuous security control requirements will must adjust, too.

So choose an interval that makes sense for your organization, say weekly or monthly; and optimize CCM implementation by: 

  • Enhancing ongoing data ingestion by uncovering new or disconnected apps and systems in your IT asset inventory.
  • Detecting control gaps and threats not accounted for as your DevSecOps team remediates identified risks. 
  • Informing overall threat intelligence management across your organization based on risks and vulnerabilities detected throughout the CCM process.

 

What Tool is Used in Continuous Control Monitoring? 

Due to its growing popularity, pure-play continuous control monitoring (CCM) platforms are emerging. At the same time, some niche governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) vendors are incorporating CCM capabilities into their solutions. 

While the latter can do some of the job, it’s best to use a CCM tool built to support implementation across all phases of the CCM lifecycle. As the checklist explored above showed, that includes a long list of steps all related to each other in one way or another. 

Based on this, Gartner recommends the use of a CCM tool that automates four core things:

 

What Tool is Used in Continuous Control Monitoring?

 

Cyber Sierra has these capabilities built into its platform. 

In short, ours is an interoperable cybersecurity and compliance automation software. This means the capabilities outlined above work well together, making the automation of CCM procedures and processes seamless. 

 

Automate Continuous Cybersecurity Control Monitoring

As shown throughout various steps of the CCM lifecycle phases, automation is at the core of implementing CCM. And it is more feasible with an interoperable cybersecurity and compliance automation platform. 

This is where Cyber Sierra comes in. 

Why not book a free demo of Cyber Sierra to get a sneak peek into how our platform automates the ongoing implementation of CCM?  

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Meet Pramodh Rai, a technology aficionado and Cyber Sierra's co-founder, whose zest for innovation is fuelled by a cupboard stacked with zero-sugar Redbull. With a nimble footwork through the tech tulips across Asia Pacific, he's donned hats at Hmlet (the proptech kind) and Funding Societies | Modalku, building high-performing teams and technologies. A Barclays prodigy with dual degrees from Nanyang Technological University, Pramodh is a treasure trove of wisdom, dad jokes, and everything product/tech. He's the Sherpa in sneakers you need.

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Third Party Risk Management

Best Practices to Create a Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) Program

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All businesses involve finance, sales, marketing, and other operations. And outsourcing some of these functions is the easiest way for large enterprises to grow. However, it’s imperative to recognize that these business relationships can also expose your enterprise to significant threats in the form of data breaches.

According to a survey by IBM, nearly 83% of the organizations they studied have had more than one data breach. And it caused an average loss of $4.35 million! 

The smart way to circumvent these third-party risks is to mitigate and manage them proactively. Enter Third-Party Risk Management.

Read on to uncover everything you need to know about Third-party risk management and its best practices.

What is Third-Party Risk Management?

The third-party risk management is a structured approach to mitigate any third-party risks associated with your business. Enterprises create a TPRM framework, which includes vendor risk assessment, monitoring, and mitigation to protect their data. 

Vendors, suppliers, contractors, distributors, service providers, manufacturers, affiliates, and other third-party organizations expose your enterprise to a multitude of risks. Third-party risk include:

  • Operational risks
  • Financial risks
  • Reputational risk
  • Compliance risk
  • Cyberattack risk
  • Data protection risks

Third-party risk refers to the various types of risk that a business faces from its relationships with other parties and organizations that it works with. 

6 critical components of the TPRM Framework

There are six components of a typical third-party risk management framework including:

6 critical components of the TPRM Framework

The process involved in each element is different and goes through a lifecycle. Let’s dive into each of them.

 

1. Risk assessment and categorization

The company assesses the risk associated with each third-party vendor. A TPRM framework identifies and evaluates the risks stemming from any third-party relationship. This may encompass operational, financial, compliance, and other aspects. 

This step is crucial for identifying potential threats to the business. The TPRM framework incorporates risk matrices or scoring systems to categorize these risks

 

2. Due diligence

Due diligence is a process that involves assessing qualifications, conducting background checks, and verifying documents before engaging in a third-party relationship. This process serves to diminish the likelihood of potential threats posed by third-party vendors and fosters trust between your company and these vendors.

Organizations should establish specific criteria for selecting vendors, which may include evaluating their financial stability, ensuring compliance with regulations, and assessing alignment with corporate values.

 

3. Contractual agreements

Contractual agreements entail the creation of precise contracts that outline responsibilities, obligations, expectations, scope, and other essential terms. These contracts incorporate legal clauses designed to safeguard data against breaches and ensure compliance with regulations. 

They also include conditions and indemnifications to address various scenarios. It’s important to note that contracts may need to be modified in response to new regulations or significant changes in circumstances.

 

4. Continuous monitoring

Continuous monitoring is an automated process in which companies routinely assess networks, organizations, IT systems, and other third parties to ensure they adhere to legal contracts and obligations. 

This component detects security, performance, or noncompliance issues and prevents/ warns them! Companies use metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure performance and legal obligations.

 

5. Risk mitigation

Now that you have identified the risks, it’s time to take action. This phase involves the development and implementation of strategies to mitigate or manage the risks associated with third parties. Risk mitigation strategies may include contingency plans, security controls, insurance coverage, and other measures.

 

6. Incident response

Incident response plans delineate the steps to be taken in the event of an incident, encompassing the involvement of third parties and the risks associated with them, such as data breaches or compliance violations. 

This step is essential to ensure a coordinated response whenever an incident occurs. These plans typically include the identification of the incident, notification of stakeholders, containment of the incident, investigation of its root causes, and the implementation of corrective actions.

Each of these components is crucial for a proactive and successful third-party risk management lifecycle. 

10 steps to create a strong Third-Party Risk Management Framework

Any cybersecurity-conscious enterprise must adopt a robust TPRM framework to identify, avoid, and mitigate any third-party risks in its business operations. 

Here are the 10 steps to create a third-party risk management framework that manages all your business risks.

10 steps to create a strong Third-Party Risk Management Framework

1. List all the third-party affairs

No matter the number or size of the third-party vendors you are affiliated with, you must document every vendor information in your system. It includes the vendor information, their service type, the risks they can make, and their roles. 

 

2. Identify and categorize the third parties.

Create a separate list of categories to quantify the risks based on the third-party affairs and based on their potential impact on the business.

Make an intuitive category, either ABC or high, medium, or low, depending on the risk rating. Then, put each of them in the class according to the seriousness of the risks.

For instance, the TPRM program in Cyber Sierra allows enterprises to maintain a central repository of all their vendors on a single platform and helps score them in terms of the risks. But more on that later. 

 

3. Vendor risk assessment

Identify and assess every risk associated with third-party vendors. Document and categorize each of them into the different types of risks. You can table them as operational, financial, legal or reputational.

This helps to assess the potential risks that the third-party relationship in the future might cause. With Cyber Sierra, you can do a continuous risk assessment for your third-party vendors and identify all the potential risks associated with them and proactively take mitigating actions to reduce their impact.

 

4. Risk mitigation and control

It might cost you a good governance team to handle your TPRM framework- but it’s worth it. Appoint a TPRM team in your organization, or get yourself a professional TPRM platform such as Cyber Sierra’s that can manage it all for you. Cyber Sierra can seamlessly bridge the gap between your TPRM requirements and your vendors, and make the process effortless, efficient, and most importantly, effective. 

 

5. Due diligence

Even though the due diligence method is quite traditional, it pours many benefits into the TPRM framework. Develop a strategy that involves a series of diligent inspections. It includes a thorough background check, document verifications, checking the reputation, financial audits, and security of the third-party organization.

This is a process that requires time and effort, but it can be very effective in protecting your business from fraud and other risks. A thorough due diligence will help you avoid the hard costs associated with doing business with an unreliable vendor.

 

6. Contractual agreements

Inform your third-party vendors of the significance of the boundaries maintained in case of regulatory compliance.

Create a concise and explicit contract that states the scope, parties’ roles, data protection clauses, regulatory compliance, and termination conditions. This way, any third-party company that causes risk is subjected to legal obligations.

 

7. Continuous monitoring

Establish a system for continuous monitoring of third-party activities and risk exposure to prevent any risks ahead.

Set the frequency for assessments, which may vary based on the nature of the relationship. Companies also use metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure performance and adherence to contract terms.

Cyber Sierra’s intelligent platform allows you to monitor the security posture of your vendors continuously instead of simply relying on a one-off filling up of security questionnaires with no means to follow up and ensure all the security practices are always put to practice.  

 

8. Reporting and communication

Create mechanisms for reporting and communicating third-party risks to relevant stakeholders. Ensure executives and regulatory authorities are informed to prevent any leading miscommunications between the stakeholders and the company.

 

9. Continuous improvement

Review and update your TPRM program regularly based on lessons learned, changes in third-party relationships, and evolving risks. To manage the risks better, adapt to new regulatory requirements, industry best practices, and technologies that give new insights into the TPRM framework.

With Cyber Sierra, you can incorporate regulatory as well as custom requirements into your TPRM framework. 

 

10. Exit strategies

Vendor offboarding is also a critical step and needs meticulous planning and best practices such as data retrieval and contingency plans.

Benefits of Third-Party Risk Management

Implementing a Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) program offers numerous benefits to organizations across various industries. Here are some of the key advantages:

Benefits of Third-Party Risk Management

Let’s look at them one by one.

 

1. Reduced risks

TPRM helps organizations identify, assess, and mitigate risks associated with their third-party relationships. This approach minimizes the likelihood of unexpected issues, such as data breaches, compliance violations, or supply chain disruptions.

 

2. Enhanced security

It also helps protect sensitive data and intellectual property. The TPRM program assesses the third-party cybersecurity practices and requires security controls. This eliminates the primary source of stress in the age of cyber-attacks.

 

3. Lowered costs

TPRM programs are excellent in detecting the risks. Therefore, they prevent costly incidents or disruptions resulting from third-party failures. As aforementioned, data breaches can cause millions of financial losses, leading to reputational damage.

 

4. Continued operations

Effective TPRM programs include contingency planning for potential disruptions caused by third parties. This ensures that operations can continue smoothly even when third-party issues arise.

 

5. Protected data

Protecting customer data and sensitive information is a top priority for many organizations. TPRM ensures that third parties handle data appropriately, reducing the risk of data breaches.

Best Practices for Maintaining an Effective Third-Party Risk Management Framework

Managing risk is a vital aspect of any business endeavor. Consequently, the need for an effective third-party risk management framework is both pressing and complex.

Here are some best practices to ensure that your third-party risk management framework is not only robust but can adapt to an ever-evolving risk landscape.

Best Practices for Maintaining an Effective Third-Party Risk Management Framework

  1. Perform comprehensive due diligence

Due diligence is more than checking a box; it’s about understanding a potential third-party’s operations, controls, reputation, and financial health. Your risk management, therefore, must start before a partnership or engagement begins.

It’s crucial that you delve into their past dealings to spot any red flags regarding their business conduct, legal or regulatory issues.

 

  1. Adopt tiered risk assessment

Not every third-party will pose the same level of risk to your organization. Some may have a minimal impact, while others can have significant business implications.

Categorize your third-party partnerships based on the level of risk exposure they bring. This helps focus your resources where they are most needed.

 

  1. Establish clear communication channels

Transparent, unimpeded communication channels form the backbone of effective risk management. From notifying third parties about your policies and expectations to obtaining updates about their activities that may impact your business, communication is key.

Regular dialogues also reaffirm the third-party’s responsibility towards risk management and ensure they remain compliant with your standards.

 

  1. Train your team

The onus of managing third-party risk doesn’t fall on a single department; it is an organizational endeavor.

Therefore, inculcate a culture of risk awareness throughout your organization. Regular training sessions help employees at all levels grasp the significance of third-party risk and their role in mitigating it.

 

Employee awa

 

With Cyber Sierra, you can ensure your team is well-informed and trained on how to mitigate third-party risk. Our training sessions can also be customized based on your requirements, so you can be sure they meet all the legal and regulatory standards that apply to your organization.

 

  1. Leverage technology

There are numerous technologies, software, and tools available today that can streamline your risk management processes.

These solutions can automate various steps of the risk assessment process, keep track of documentation, provide real-time analytics, and ensure a consistent approach to risk management across the organization.

Check out our detailed guide on: Best Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) Tools.

Conclusion

Risk management is a dynamic process that needs to be updated regularly. You need to keep track of the changing business environment, new regulations and legislation, and new threats and vulnerabilities. This is why it’s so important to have a dedicated team in place that can conduct regular risk assessments and make sure your organization has the right policies and procedures in place.

With Cyber Sierra’s third-party risk management program you evaluate, mitigate, and monitor third-party vendor risks. 

The TPRM program is customizable to the needs of different industries and ensures compliance with region-specific regulations, such as Singapore’s PDPA, Australia’s CIRMP, Europe’s GDPR, and USA’s CCPA, HIPAA, and PCI DSS, to name a few.

Book a demo to know more. 

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Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

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