GRC Viewpoint

Navigating Regulatory Compliance Does Not Have to Impair Business Growth

Regulatory compliance is a crucial aspect of business; every company is subject to multiple regulations. Common data security and privacy regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and HIPAA have been around for some time, but achieving and maintaining compliance is becoming increasingly complicated. 

As distributed enterprise models become popular, businesses face new regulatory compliance challenges. Employees, devices, and applications are spread across locations, making it difficult to keep track of and adhere to all the different state-specific regulations. Compliance requirements also keep evolving in response to emerging cybersecurity threats. Businesses using legacy security models often struggle to keep up with the dynamic security needs of their digital transformation initiatives and the increasingly complex regulatory landscape.  

The Challenges of Modern-Day Compliance Requirements 

Today’s distributed enterprise involves multiple business locations, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployments, remote employees, and exponential data growth. All these factors make the already stringent regulatory environment even more challenging. Compliance failures can quickly become disastrous, not just in terms of costly legal penalties but also with regard to loss of reputation and damage to customer trust. 

  1. Regulatory Variations

Localized and fragmented data protection and privacy laws have been around for years, such as PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) for organizations handling cardholder data and HIPAA for protecting sensitive patient data. However, the introduction of GDPR in 2018 set a high bar for existing and future data privacy regulations worldwide. Several jurisdictions have introduced or updated their existing data protection laws to align with the EU’s data protection standards. For instance, CCPA and its recent update, CPRA (California Privacy Rights Act), introduced quite a few GDPR-like consumer privacy rights and business obligations.

Despite sharing the same goals, various laws implement these rights to varying degrees, and the compliance requirement can differ significantly across jurisdictions. They can also undergo significant updates as newer, more stringent, and comprehensive privacy standards are introduced, and new security threats are discovered. It’s only natural for distributed businesses to find it hard keeping up with changing regulations in each location. 

  1. Distributed Enterprise, Users, and Data

Achieving compliance across regions can be difficult not only due to the sheer number of applicable regulations but also because of the challenges of managing and monitoring partners, employees, and corporate assets spread outside the traditional corporate perimeter. The challenge for businesses is to enable seamless communication and collaboration while still maintaining data privacy and adequate access controls. They must closely monitor and ensure all employees and partners adhere to regulatory requirements. Failure to do so can result in legal and reputational repercussions. 

The shift to cloud and edge computing also means that companies may not know exactly where their sensitive data resides or is being processed. Although cloud providers attempt to address data residency requirements by establishing cloud regions and availability zones, the onus falls on companies to choose them strategically to meet all compliance requirements. 

Remote workers and BYOD (bring your own device) policies pose another compliance challenge — ensuring mandatory controls on personal, non-corporate devices. Since digital transformation has put data and users all over the place, organizations need global network visibility and the ability to centrally manage, monitor, and enforce corporate policy across the entire IT infrastructure. 

  1. Legacy Applications, Infrastructure, and Security Technologies

Traditional perimeter-based security controls are ineffective for today’s distributed organizations and workforce. They require backhauling all network traffic to a central location for inspection which adds significant performance delays and scalability challenges. In addition, traditional security architectures use multiple point solutions with limited functionality. For example, VPNs used to provide remote access to employees and external partners lack any tracking and access control abilities beyond the initial access attempt. Organizations end up deploying other solutions such as firewalls, SIEM (Security information and event management), and anti-malware solutions to overcome the visibility and security loopholes any single solution creates.

As corporate networks expand and organizations become even more distributed, the network and security point solutions become overburdened with backhauled traffic making them virtually impossible to scale. Consequently, users experience degraded performance and productivity loss. Further exacerbating security and compliance challenges, newer security controls may lack support for legacy apps and infrastructure, something hybrid enterprises still significantly rely on. 

Addressing Compliance Challenges without Hindering Growth and Expansion

To effectively address the compliance challenges, distributed organizations need to adopt a cloud-based, globally available approach to security that is capable of enforcing access controls across apps, users, devices, and data no matter where they reside. Unlike legacy VPNs, this access control must not come at the cost of performance, productivity, or visibility. Modern security approaches like ZTNA (zero trust network access) provide better visibility and control over network access by adopting a more granular approach to authentication and authorization. ZTNA limits access to only the resources that a user absolutely needs to perform a job, rather than granting broad access to the entire network.

When implemented as a core component of SASE (secure access service edge), which converges network and security capabilities of multiple point solutions into a single, cohesive cloud-naive security service, ZTNA can address the remaining visibility gaps like insider threats and credential theft. SASE’s single-pane-of-glass visibility and management also come in handy for compliance monitoring and reporting, yet another challenge for distributed organizations. 

With cloud-native security controls, organizations can acquire additional resources as and when needed for instant scalability. Cloud-native tools grow as businesses expand and traffic volumes surge, extending the security perimeter to wherever users and data reside. With the right approach to cyber defenses, organizations no longer need to choose between business growth and regulatory compliance.

By Roy Matalon leads governance, risk management, and compliance at Cato Networks

Roy Matalon leads governance, risk management, and compliance at Cato Networks. Prior to Cato, Roy was a senior consultant at Citadel Cyber Security, advising leading financial institutions on complaint practices. Roy is a CISSP with more the eight years of physical and cyber security expertise.

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