Risk & Strategy
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Ross Pounds
Senior Manager

How a cloud controls framework can streamline certifications for efficiency, control and ROI

November 22, 2022
0 min read
colleagues discussing the importance of a common controls framework

Internal security policies show an organization’s employees how to protect important networks and data. External security certifications, meanwhile, confirm such practices to the rest of the world through rigorous standards and assessments.

Effectively connecting the two is essential for maintaining compliance and winning business, particularly for software as a service (SaaS) providers.

“If you can inspire trust and confidence in your SaaS, you have a major competitive advantage,” states IT consulting firm Pivot Point Security. “Arguably the best way to build that trust is to demonstrate you’ve earned it — through independent, third-party accreditation of your security controls.”

In many industries, specific security certifications are a requirement — and cost — of doing business. But the many details of managing them too often sap IT teams’ valuable time and keep them from more value-added work, like developing new features and functionality that win and keep new business.

The time-consuming world of security certifications

The frameworks designed to build trust in data and network protection are numerous and evolving worldwide, from the EU’s GDPR data standards to the United States government’s FedRAMP, which covers security assessment, authorization and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.

Depending on its industry and the expectations of regulators and customers, an organization may need to keep current with:

  • ISO 27001 — the international standard for managing information security risks, such as cyberattacks, hacks, data leaks or theft
  • Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)
  • SOC 2 for data storage
  • HIPAA and HITRUST for healthcare
  • PCI-DSS for financial services

The list goes on. Meanwhile, individual security professionals have other certifications to keep up with. These may include becoming a Certified Cloud Security Professional or Integrator, earning (ISC2) CISSP certification or gaining credentials from the Cloud Security Alliance, COMPtia, and the Cloud Credential Counsel. Certifications with a specific cloud provider, like AWS or Microsoft Azure, are quickly becoming industry standards as well.

The task of remaining current and compliant across an organization’s growing operations and workforce is becoming extremely time- and resource-intensive. Tracking individual courses, new requirements and progress against goals too often steals IT teams’ time away from improving functionality or developing new features for a competitive marketplace.

But security certification management is work that has to be done. Customers want to know that you’re protecting their data and the sensitive information of their own customers to the highest industry standards. Fall short, and a company incurs costly audit expenses and misses out on significant revenue opportunities.

The cloud controls framework

Cloud controls are safeguards or countermeasures that help organizations manage risk in the cloud. They can be policies, procedures, guidelines and practices, or more concrete tools like firewalls and authentication tools.

Establishing such a framework across an organization starts with an understanding of the data. What assets are most vulnerable and important from a business and regulatory standpoint? Equipped with this knowledge, the organization can then identify what controls exist across the users, identities, networks, infrastructure and applications interfacing with this data — and remediate any gaps.

Then, by putting all of these controls into a centralized framework, organizations can adopt a more integrated approach to monitoring and managing cloud and cyber security.

With such a common controls framework for their cloud operations, organizations have a foundation for designing, implementing and managing cybersecurity and privacy principles. They’re able to consistently define, implement and demonstrate controls that are foundational to security and privacy certifications across SaaS and cloud activities. Furthermore, a cloud controls framework can save significant resources by allowing organizations to achieve cloud security certifications much more efficiently.

Streamlining global certifications to drive revenue

Achieving ISO 27001 or FedRAMP certification entails an extensive series of checklists. So does maintaining AWS or Microsoft Azure certifications for cloud security professionals.

Yet all global security frameworks emanate from the same motivation: protecting data from the most pressing, urgent and current threats. In an overarching way, requirements across these certifications, no matter how evolving and complex, will reference the same core set of internal controls.

In this manner, a cloud controls framework does some of the heavy lifting for certification management, identifying and tracking status for critical security indicators like authentication, access and cyber training. Moreover, such a framework takes advantage of overlaps between requirements, combining people, data and processes across common activities. This enables a certification management program to scale throughout the broadest range of international, national and regional certifications.

A solid internal controls framework reduces the burden on risk teams by identifying issues and remedies before they cause damage to your organization, not after. From cyber vulnerabilities to lapsed certifications, those fewer gaps — and room for error — mean fewer audits, reducing audit fatigue and related fees.

Meanwhile, more efficient, effective workflows reduce the time burden on busy IT staff and leaders alike, freeing everyone’s schedule up for more strategic initiatives.

The next step is to operationalize the cloud controls. Here’s where a centralized controls management solution comes in.

Diligent IT Compliance: Reclaiming time for the bottom line

Solutions exist to make compliance processes like security certifications more organized and efficient. Diligent IT Compliance is one of them, designed with deep knowledge of cloud control frameworks and the technology to tame administrative details, like the activities involved in managing certifications.

With Diligent IT Compliance, organizations can deploy preconfigured content out of the box with just a few clicks, or automate critical workflows. These components are reusable and scalable — build controls once, then use them to obtain multiple security certifications.

Continuous monitoring keeps organizations up to speed on certification status and attainment across regulatory frameworks and global operations. A centralized platform puts certifications management activities all in one place and aligns them with a common controls framework, enabling deep visibility and powerful reporting. Security and IT teams can gain an aggregated view anytime and anywhere, and deliver these results quickly and easily to their leadership.

All of these features add up to time savings and resource optimizations, empowering organizations to move their IT teams away from tedious, labor-intensive certification management and toward more strategic, revenue-enhancing initiatives.

Take the next step toward streamlining security certifications and building your bottom line. Schedule a meeting with Diligent today.


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