How CISOs Can Prepare for Budget Reductions  

Economic pressures force security, governance, risk, and compliance leaders to do more with less. CISOs are especially vulnerable, as it can be hard to cut corners where data security is concerned.  

By 2023, 30% of a CISO’s effectiveness will be directly measured on the ability to create value for the business. This means that even though security remains a top concern, CISOs will also face growing accountability for the financial success of the organizations they represent.  

To proactively prepare for future changes, A-LIGN has identified three areas for CISOs to concentrate when reducing budgets and helping their organizations generate ROI.   

1. Utilize Technology 

Becoming compliant is necessary to keep clients and win new business but it can be expensive and time consuming if done without technology streamlining the process. Organizations can utilize compliance technology to mitigate the impact of personnel shortages, time-related constraints, and reduction in resources.  

Compliance technology automates many manual tasks from audit processes, such as simplifying readiness assessments and deduplicating audits and evidence collection.  

A-SCEND is A-LIGN’s award-winning compliance automation software. A-SCEND allows teams of all sizes to gain instant visibility into their compliance standing, create policies, and manage evidence in one centralized platform. From automated evidence collection to continuous monitoring, A-SCEND is the end-to-end solution that bridges the gap between auditor experience and technology. 

Beware of the Limitations of Technology

Popular thought is that by enabling integrations into a cloud platform, an organization can become effectively hands-off in its approach to assuring compliance. While this idea may seem like a solution, several influences quickly highlight how cost-ineffective this route can be.  

Only a few of the available integrations consider the nuance of scoping. An organization might have the ability to pull data from its cloud service provider (CSP) quickly. However, a human must evaluate if that evidence applies to the assessment at hand. 

For example, pulling a population of users from an HR system might ease a burden on your HR team, but what if you deliver the wrong list of users? When the concern is providing more than the (minimum) necessary for an assessment, unmanaged integrations are a significant risk. 

Even if your organization adopts compliance technologies, CISOs and Compliance Officers should ensure their team stays actively engaged with the audit processes. 

2. Consolidate Vendors

Audit and compliance automation platforms are not the same as accredited auditors or assessors. This means organizations must still contract with and build relationships with one or many audit firms depending on the attestations and certifications they carry.  

It is common to see third-party compliance firms specializing in delivering either SOC, ISO, PCI, or HITRUST assessment and validation. However, when consolidation is key, many companies make uninformed decisions that increase their workload (and budget). Think of it like choosing to contract with a different cell provider for every cell phone in your home — you quickly realize how little sense it makes. 

Coordination, variety of opinions, and variations in quality and performance all become genuine risks when engaging with multiple assessor firms. Applicability of collected evidence is also a concern. Automation integrations pull some data from cloud platforms, the auditors must determine if that data is necessary to meet their evaluation.  

Audit firms must ensure they collect sufficient data to support the opinion they issue. If opinions vary, the burden to provide satisfactory evidence will always remain an obligation of the assessed entity — which can put organizations in a challenging position.  

3. Don’t Delay Cybersecurity Compliance Certifications

With an uncertain economy, it is easy to understand why some organizations may consider delaying the pursuit of compliance certifications. However, many prospective clients will value your organization’s additional protections to ensure their data remains protected, especially if the client sees an organization’s process is validated by a trusted, independent auditor.      

In particular, SOC 2 and ISO 27001 are two of the most effective cybersecurity frameworks. 

Organizations should proactively complete a SOC 2 audit before a customer requests a final report. This will set you apart from your competition and help you to win new business. 

Additionally, some authorizations, like FedRAMP, require yearly re-assessments. Organizations should seek re-authorization to remain competitive and retain current customers. 

Keep Compliance as a Top Priority

While budget reductions may be coming, CISOs do not need to sacrifice information security. Adopting compliance technology and consolidating vendors can minimize downtime and save money. Additionally, pursuing relevant certifications can attract new clients and increase your business revenue. 

A-LIGN is well-versed in meeting the requirements of a broad range of compliance standards and security frameworks, including SOC 2, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, GDPR, FISMA, FedRAMP, and NIST-based frameworks. Our advisors and auditors can partner with your organization to help you meet all compliance needs, even during times of financial uncertainty.  

Keep forward on your path to success. Begin your compliance journey with A-LIGN today.