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Security Governance

What is Governance, Risk, Compliance (GRC)?

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is a strategic framework.

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In information technology (IT) security, Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is a framework that aligns organizational objectives with operational strategies while managing risks and meeting regulatory requirements.

GRC is an integrated approach an entire organization takes when building and managing its security operations.

GRC Definitions

Governance: The frameworks, or rules and policies, an organization uses to deliver agreed-upon outcomes. Good security governance is how organizations bring together their technology and people in the right processes to improve security outcomes, improve accountability and drive a secure culture.

What is governance?

Risk (management): The practice of identifying, assessing, and managing potential threats to an organization, including financial, legal, strategic, and cybersecurity risks. Risk management is the system of people and tools tasked with minimizing negative impacts to the business while optimizing value creation.

Compliance: In IT, this means ensuring adherence to relevant laws, regulations, industry standards and internal policies governing IT activites. Discover the key components of IT compliance at this link.

Why is GRC important?

With GRC programs, security leaders and teams can better understand how their objectives help line up and deliver better business outcomes. When risks are managed effectively, there is improved compliance with laws, regulations, and standards. Internally, the company is able to make better risk-decisions are t enhances decision-making, operational efficiency, and data protection.

GRC Frameworks

This structured approach to risk mitigation within the organization and usually includes the following components:

  • Policies and procedures: Define rules and guidelines for IT operations and management to ensure consistency across the org.
  • Risk management process: This includes identification, assessment, and mitigation processes with clear visibility and designated responsibilities at each stage.
  • Compliance management: Tracks regulatory requirements so the organization can know whether it is meeting standards.
  • Incident management: Details processes for responding to and recovering from incidents and breaches.
  • Monitoring and reporting: Continuous visibility into GRC programs and regular reporting to internal and external stakeholders to provide a layer of accountability.
  • Training and awareness: Employee education continues beyond initial onboarding process, and clearly defines individuals' roles in maintaining compliance and managing risk.

GRC tools

GRC tools and software should provide a unified platform for managing governance, risk management and compliance in a centrally-accessible manner.

Key features of a useful platform includes built-in risk assessment capabilities, compliance tracking mechanisms, audit management and reporting, and policy management.

GRC benefits

  • Improved decision-making
  • Enhanced efficiency
  • Reduced risk

GRC drawbacks

  • Change management
  • Data management
  • Alignment on framework may be difficult across large teams

Learn more

Article: What is security governance?

Article: What is compliance in IT?

Article: Transforming GRC with CSMA: 6 Key Changes in Security Governance

Event: GRC 2024 in Austin, TX