Cybersecurity is gradually becoming more complex, which leads to an increase in responsibilities and, therefore, cybersecurity functions in organisations. Recently, the European Union Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA) published a classification report, identifying 12 key roles in cybersecurity. One of these is the Cyber Legal, Policy and Compliance Officer.
In today’s digital age, where businesses and individuals rely heavily on technology, cybersecurity has become a critical concern: the threats are on the rise, and organisations need to ensure that they have the right measures in place to protect their digital assets. This is where Cyber Legal, Policy, and Compliance Officers come in.
According to ENISA, a Compliance Officer is a professional who evaluates whether an organisation’s policies and procedures meet the applicable laws and regulations related to cybersecurity, thus enhancing its level of protection against cyberattacks.
But what does he actually do? The compliance auditors are typically responsible for conducting compliance assessments, risk assessments, and gap analyses to identify areas of non-compliance or potential vulnerabilities. They then work with the organisation to develop remediation plans and ensure that any necessary changes are implemented to achieve and maintain compliance.
The compliance auditor role can be challenging due to several factors. Think for example how rapidly the regulatory landscape changes. Cybersecurity standards are constantly evolving, and new laws and regulations are frequently introduced. Without going far back in time, UNECE Regulations No. 155 and 156 came into force last year, whereas GDPR is applicable as from 2018. Compliance Auditors must always stay up-to-date with these changes and ensure that their organisation is compliant with the latest rules and regulations, thus requiring a considerable amount of research, analysis, and interpretation of complex legal and regulatory requirements from their side.
Another aspect not to be underestimated is the increasing complexity of modern IT systems. Often including different components – such as servers, databases, applications, network devices, and more – this heterogeneity can make it difficult for compliance auditors to understand the full scope of the IT environment and to identify all potential compliance issues. Moreover, today’s IT systems are often interconnected and integrated with other systems, both within the organisation and with external partners and service providers. Being data shared across multiple environments, risks may arise in terms of data privacy, security, and regulatory requirements.
Last but not least, Compliance Auditors may face resistance from corporate stakeholders who may view compliance requirements as an unnecessary burden. Therefore, they must be skilled in communicating the importance of this topic and gaining buy-in from the interested parties to ensure that the organisation actually remains compliant.
Being compliant with relevant cybersecurity laws and regulations can bring many advantages to a company, including:
Mitigating legal and financial risks. Non-compliance with cybersecurity laws and regulations can result in legal and financial penalties, which can be costly and damaging to the organisation’s reputation. Compliance auditors can help businesses avoid these risks by identifying areas of non-compliance and developing remediation plans.
Enhancing cybersecurity posture. Compliance auditors can help organisations enhance their cybersecurity posture by identifying potential vulnerabilities and recommending best practices for cybersecurity controls. This can help prevent cyber-attacks and protect the company’s sensitive data.
Improving stakeholder confidence. Compliance auditors can provide assurance to stakeholders that the organisation is taking cybersecurity seriously and is committed to protecting sensitive data. This can help improve stakeholder confidence in the company’s ability to manage cybersecurity risks.
Streamlining operations. Compliance audits can support businesses in identifying inefficiencies and redundancies in their cybersecurity controls, which can help streamline operations and reduce costs.
Navigating compliance without an internal auditor can be challenging for small and medium-sized businesses. Compliance requirements are becoming increasingly complex, and SMBs may not have the resources or expertise to keep up with the latest regulations. So what to do?
One option could be to outsource compliance auditing to a third-party provider, which can offer specialised expertise and reduce the burden on internal resources, being also more cost-effective than hiring a full-time auditor. In addition to outsourcing, SMBs can take other steps to manage compliance effectively. These include establishing clear policies and procedures for compliance management, leveraging technology to automate compliance processes, and training employees on compliance best practices.