Published 27 Mar 2018

What is Continuous Compliance?

By, Pulsant

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Continuous compliance is about achieving compliance and increased security across your IT and business environments, and then maintaining compliance on an ongoing basis.

Many companies faced with the worry, or recent experience, of a cyber-attack, rush to make big changes to their security measures, but a few months after the event they often lapse into a comfortable state where no one is keeping a keen eye on security procedures and compliance requirements on an ongoing basis. This leaves them open to risks and unprepared for future threats.

Continuous compliance is about developing a culture and strategy within your organisation that continually reviews your compliance position to ensure you are meeting your industry and regulatory demands whilst maintaining secure systems. In short, continuous compliance aims to take IT teams away from responding reactively to audit requests and attacks through to being proactively prepared for future threats and data reporting requirements.

It takes a village

Continuous compliance can’t be achieved in the data centre alone. It requires people, processes, expertise and tools to come together in order to achieve a state of continuous compliance. This can be difficult to do, especially in industries where regulations about what needs to be reported vary and compliance frameworks are regularly changed, which is why continuous compliance requires a step-change in how compliance and security are assessed, delivered and monitored across an organisation.

Essentially, continuous compliance involves an organisation-wide strategy and focus in order to be delivered effectively.

Cloud can muddy the compliance waters

It can be difficult to keep track of your compliance position when you have a complex hybrid IT environment, spanning internally-housed IT systems, private clouds and public cloud services, not to mention SaaS applications. Working across different environments can make the job of achieving a standard level of compliance across all of your activities seem more complex, which is why many compliance and security specialist providers are focused on helping organisations with multi-cloud environments to achieve and maintain their compliance, gaining more visibility into the cloud services they are consuming and the compliance and security position of each environment.

Setting your security and compliance goals

It usually starts with an organisation defining their security and compliance objectives and looking at how best they can meet these requirements today, but also in the future. Capitalising on tools to automate reporting and activities such as backup and software licensing compliance checking helps to save time and create a more comprehensive workflow around the process of compliance, rather than leaving it to individuals to check and update systems.
Nowadays, there are lots of sophisticated monitoring tools that can proactively assess your environment to spot developing threats so that you have more time to plan and respond in the event of a security breach.
And for reporting to industry bodies, there are many automation tools to make the data collection and sharing process as simple and integrated as possible.
This is important for organisations who need to quickly achieve compliance across their IT, such as ISO27001 or PCI-DSS compliance frameworks.

What is being monitored?

From an IT perspective, continuous compliance practices could involve the monitoring of:

  • System logs
  • Software configurations
  • Licensing compliance
  • Applications
  • User access and identity management
  • Cloud platforms and services review
  • Alerts for changes or unusual activity in your environment
  • Adherence to best practice security procedures
  • Creating non-compliance reports detailing where there are security gaps to focus on

Working with experts

Our approach to delivering continuous compliance is through our Continuous Compliance platform which brings together everything you need to deliver continuous compliance behind one single pane of glass, such as managing different cloud environments, 3rd party tools, security experts and proactive monitoring. We deliver all this through our team of 24/7 security specialists and monitoring experts, who carry out regular penetration testing and vulnerability assessments so that you are armed with the right info in the event of a threat to your business or IT systems.