How to manage privacy and security compliance? 6 questions with GRC experts

Hundreds of frameworks. Thousands of controls. We sit down with OneTrust experts to discuss the evolution of privacy and security compliance

Katrina Dalao, Sr. Content Marketing Specialist, OneTrust
March 7, 2023


At OneTrust, we see customers devote all this effort into privacy and all this effort into IT audits and compliance – how can we bring them together?


Privacy and security are two sides of the same coin. Privacy focuses on the proper handling of personal data, while security aims to protect data from attacks or threats.


We live in a time when we’re trying to do more with less, ushering in a whole new era of automation, a whole new era of consolidation.


Our recent webinar focused on this change, with OneTrust experts Blake Brannon, Chief Product and Strategy Officer (as the moderator), and Patrick Murray, VP of Product Management, and Jose Costa, Senior Director of the GRC Labs and Research, shedding light on how privacy and security compliance are evolving to meet modern market demands.


Q. How have InfoSec and privacy compliance requirements evolved?

Patrick Murray: GRC products have been around for quite some time. But 15 to 20 years ago, it was a much different landscape. Legacy GRC products were built for a single-framework era, where you’re doing basic financial type of audits. The number of cybersecurity frameworks was quite limited at the time.


Now, it’s a giant multi-framework era, with all different types of certifications across InfoSec, financial, ethics, and ESG. Third-party certifications have become more predominant. It’s not good enough to satisfy the needs of your internal audit teams. You need to prove it to others with a third-party certification for greater assurance.


In the legacy world, people prioritized strategy and governance, which is still important. But what wasn’t easy to prioritize then was execution. How do I implement my policies and procedures? How do I prove my controls are operational with evidence? Prioritization of proof has now increased.


Back then, it was more of an on-premises world and now, it’s more of a SaaS world, which is an unmanaged world. You don’t control the servers that house your customer’s data anymore.

Timeline showing the progression of third-party frameworks

In the old days, it would be 10 years before you had an update or never at all. But now, you’re in this era of multiple frameworks, stakeholders, SaaS apps, and scopes and you have to keep up with the changes. It’s become challenging for people to manage this on their own without automation and technology.


Q. How have these market changes impacted internal programs?

PM: The number one thing I’m hearing from customers is these changes are creating compliance fatigue. People are doing duplicative work and if you talk to most customers, evidence collection is the most painful part of an audit. They don’t know what evidence to collect. It’s not easy to understand and the amount can be daunting.


Low engagement is another big problem. How do you get everybody else in your organization to help you? It’s not just on the InfoSec team to get everything done – they’re relying on the entire company to become compliant and build a risk-based culture.


The current state is this: Legacy GRC products don’t have the guidance, don’t have the automation to plug into your tech stack, and don’t have good user experience. Who’s explaining this to the first line of defense or encouraging evidence collection? The CISO or Head of Compliance. And as everyone knows, they already have a lot of stuff on their plate. We need to release and scale that team – that’s where we’re at now in terms of the problem statement.


Q. How does Certification Automation deliver content and guidance?

Jose Costa: Unlike legacy GRC solutions, the moment you log onto our Certification Automation platform you get a guided experience throughout the process.


It starts with answering questions about your environment and tech stack, and we’re able to narrow down controls, policies, and guidance so you can start working from day one. The tasks are pre-populated and come with templates out of the box. We take the guessing out of this process.


You don’t struggle once the auditor shows up. You’re building your compliance program in a way that everything is in one place. You can also bring your own content, as you modify this system of records and make it your own.


The team responsible for the content and guidance in the platform, we’re all security consultants and IT auditors. We’ve been doing this for years. We know the answers to the test, we know what you need to collect.


As a former auditor, it’s nice to show up and have the evidence you need to do your work without having to ask for additional things. It’s a huge time-saving tool. Happy auditor, happy customer.


Q. How does content and guidance help with the expanding landscape of frameworks?

JC: A lot of these frameworks overlap. You have to comply with multiple frameworks – most people do. There are mappings on the internet with control to control. But when you get down to collecting evidence and showing auditors what you do, it’s hard because there are nuances, little things that are different between each control.


We map all controls at the evidence task level. This allows you to collect things once and reuse them across other frameworks. Your risk register will automatically map to any controls you have, your policy is updated with the latest requirements, and you’ll have the latest controls in your library ready for your auditors. Collect things once and avoid audit fatigue.


Q. You’re doing all these different frameworks across different apps, different technology, run by different departments in a company. How do you drive consistency?

PM: The first piece to help get ahead of all this complexity is to use automation to integrate directly into your tech stack. Even if you say you have AWS, for example, there are a number of different use cases. We’ve prebuilt 100+ use cases where we not only integrate to pull requisite information but provide a type of guidance.


Jose and his team build curated evidence files so you don’t just vacuum up a bunch of information from your cloud environment. Some of it’s not necessary and you don’t want to do that from a security perspective. We put it in the right evidence task so you don’t have to figure it out yourself. It’s quite time-consuming and all these different tech products work differently. We allow you to automatically collect evidence but also verify that it’s compliant.


One of the things we’ve done is create an intuitive user experience that guardrails non-infosec- or non-compliance-savvy people to stay on task. We write all this content, what to collect, how often to collect it. OneTrust saves you a ton of time and keeps you consistent, which is the whole point of compliance.


You’re not getting to continuous compliance without automation. It’s not going to happen. It’s too difficult. Automation gets you beyond the certification. You’re not just compliant when the auditor comes once a year, you’re compliant all the time.


Q: How does Certification Automation pull everything together?

PM: Our thesis on what modern GRC products need to keep up with complex requirements is, first and foremost, you need some guidance. Keeping up with all these frameworks is an insurmountable task for even an experienced CISO. You need a partner to help you keep track of new frameworks and know what to do so you can be responsive to your customers.


Second is capability. Do you have the flexibility to build a workflow to manage all this complexity? How do you interact with your second line of defense, the general departments of your company? If you can’t automate it, you have to interact with the business.


Third is automation. You want to automate as much as possible. With OneTrust, we can’t automate everything, but we can automate a good 50% of it. We reduce your work but more importantly, we ensure you’re continuously compliant for every interval you may be tested on during your certification.

Chart breaking down the certification automation process

The last piece is user experience, which I’m a big fan of — I feel B2B products in general have failed to apply consumer-grade user experience for people who don’t do this as their normal job. You need the whole village to get this done.


User experience has been one of the gaps in the GRC market. You’re just not going to build a risk-based culture without everyone’s help. A strong user experience for everyone in the organizations you’re relying upon is super important in the future.


About 90% of the people in a company don’t know anything about compliance or InfoSec. You’re relying on them to gather evidence and do assessments on risks. You’re relying on everybody to help pull the rope or it becomes your job. You can’t scale that way. We make it easier so you don’t have to figure this out yourself.



The above answers have been edited and condensed for this post. For the full coverage, click here to watch the full webinar on OneTrust Certification Automation.

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