Most large-scale entities need to prove compliance with multiple regulatory standards. In their efforts to meet their compliance mandates, organizations could suffer a major drain on their time and resources. This possibility holds true regardless of whether they’re finance companies, retailers, manufacturers or hospitality firms.
Organizations face an additional obstacle when they have an internally created compliance standard that demands enforcement. These types of standards require the same level of monitoring as regulatory policies. They also necessitate adoption across the same varied, dispersed and ever-evolving IT infrastructure.
Lastly, there’s a challenge in the fact that organizations’ business objectives are always changing. So too are the types of technologies that are available to them. Such dynamism creates many reasons why businesses might ultimately be required to supplement their current compliance program with additional policies down the road.
In their attempt to take all of these factors into consideration, many organizations could end up with an excess of tools applied piecemeal across their estate. More complexity is the last thing they need. Instead, they need to embrace a customizable approach to their compliance obligations that’s capable of shifting dynamically as corporate needs expand or change.
This flexible approach should consist of the following three best practices.
Best Practice #1: Centralize Your Compliance Efforts
As stated above, organizations should strive to avoid sinking their resources into managing and maintaining different vendors for different compliance requirements. Instead, they might consider investing in a single tool and applying it across their entire IT environment. That’s as long as the tool allows them to use both a customized combination of policies along with internal policies that are relevant to them.
As an example, an organization may need to be able to prove continuous compliance with PCI-DSS and ISO 27001 in addition to an internally created corporate compliance standard. It therefore should look for a tool that it can use to support each of these policies from within a unified console, all while allowing it to add more if and when its needs change.
Best Practice #2: Perform Continuous Compliance Monitoring
Organizations need to be able to pinpoint their exact level of alignment to a given regulatory standard at any given time. They can ensure this capability by monitoring their compliance continuously, not periodically. To do that, they can look to security configuration management (SCM), a security practice which is designed to continuously maintain a compliant system state post-audit rather than a mere snapshot of compliance for a specific moment in time. It’s not enough for organizations to know that they were aligned with their compliance mandates under the scrutiny of an auditor. The goal should be having the ability to know their exact compliance level at any point in time—audit or not.
When new assets are deployed and hardened, the confidence in the functionality of those assets is usually high. But as users and administrators interact with it—as software/operating systems are upgraded and settings are changed—that confidence degrades over time. With SCM, organizations can track those changes, figure out when they’ve been taken out of compliance and implement steps to return to their baseline state.
Best Practice #3: Apply Different Policies to Different Assets
Last but not least, larger organizations are complex and have many layers. But they still need to get actionable information out of those environments. That includes when they have their companies divided into location, system owner, business owner, application and so on.
It’s therefore important that organizations have the ability to tag their assets by the logical schema that maps them. This will allow organizations to better report on their compliance.
How Tripwire Enterprise Can Help
Tripwire Enterprise is a SCM suite that provides fully integrated solutions for policy, file integrity and remediation management. Organizations can use these solutions together for a complete end-to-end SCM solution or use its file integrity monitoring or policy management solutions on their own to address today’s pressing security and compliance challenges—while building a foundation that positions them to address tomorrow’s.
With regard to compliance customizability, Tripwire Enterprise enables tool consolidation, increases efficiency by freeing up time and resources as well as allows organizations to roll out their own custom hardening standards. Simultaneously, it establishes and maintains consistent compliance agent-based and agentless continuous configuration assessment against thousands of combinations of platforms and security and compliance policies, standards, regulations and vendor guidelines.