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Risk Management Strategies Scytale
Lee Govender

Compliance Success Manager

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Effective Compliance Risk Management Strategies for Startups: A Step-by-Step Guide

Summary: Compliance risk management is an organization's way of monitoring systems and bulletproofing your security. It's a needed and ongoing process.

As your startup gains momentum (and market share), compliance risks can feel all the more tricky to navigate. Unfortunately, more often than not, the more complex and time-consuming a task, the likelier humans are to procrastinate. However, the risks associated with non-compliance don’t go away with time. The opposite, in fact. It festers, slowly snowballing into something that could cause critical damage to your small business. 

Let’s rip off the bandage and fix what needs fixing. For startups keen on scaling their business without relying on the one-year startup birthday wish as a risk management strategy, we’ve got you covered. 

Here’s everything you need to know about creating effective compliance risk management strategies for your startup.

But first, in true Scytale fashion – let’s start off with the basics. 

What is Compliance Risk Management?

Compliance risk management is your organization’s way of monitoring and evaluating your systems and ultimately bulletproofing your security and compliance posture. It’s a much-needed and ongoing process to ensure that your business continues to meet industry and security standards as well as corporate and regulatory rules and requirements. 

Effective compliance risk management should ultimately monitor your security controls, identify potential risks, analyze those risks and take appropriate corrective actions to mitigate the risks. 

Finally, your compliance risk management strategy works alongside your compliance framework of choice and manages the risks associated with non-compliance. 

Where Do Compliance Frameworks Fit Into the Picture? 

Risks, however, aren’t always easy to spot. And if you don’t know what the risks are, how can you tell whether or not you’re implementing the proper controls, standards or systems for optimal information security? That’s where compliance frameworks come into the picture. In brief, compliance frameworks, like SOC 2 or ISO 27001, act as the blueprint system by which companies can assess whether or not they’re adhering to infosec best practices.

So, are you doing due diligence? Well, that depends on how compliant you are with your chosen framework. 

To summarize, compliance risk management falls under the necessary requirements to achieve overall security compliance with your chosen framework. But here’s where it can get a little sticky – how does it differ from risk management? 

Risk Management Vs Compliance Risk Management

The best way to highlight the difference between risk management and compliance management is by understanding that the risk of non-compliance can differ depending on your industry. Where risk management is focused on detecting and monitoring all internal and external vulnerabilities and associated risks within your enterprise – compliance management double-checks that your processes, controls and systems are proactively mitigating risks and not adding fuel to the fire. 

Compliance risk management falls under the umbrella of compliance management, which can be considered a sector of overall risk management. 

Organizations cannot effectively gauge their compliance or identify and prioritize their exposure without a proper compliance risk management strategy. Here’s how you can ensure nothing slips through the cracks when it comes to your specific compliance risk management strategy. 

Core Steps to Effective Compliance Risk Management

Step one: Choose your fighter (framework)

The first step in creating an effective compliance risk management strategy is to determine the right security framework for your organization. Depending on the compliance framework you’ve chosen, your responsibilities will vary. Be sure to clearly identify and communicate the duties, obligations and liabilities your startup has when it comes to handling any type of information. For example, if your startup handles any type of protected health information, you are subject to mandatory HIPAA compliance. Alternatively, PCI DSS compliance is the better fit if you handle credit cardholder data. Are you a cloud service provider looking to bolster your security controls? Consider CSA STAR. 

Ultimately, before moving on towards the next step, you must identify your objectives, regulatory requirements and industry-specific risks and implement a compliance framework that aligns. 

Step two: Consider your compliance team

Startup teams are used to wearing many different hats to maximize resources. However, this can prove to become more challenging when it comes to creating a compliance risk management strategy.

Specific security standards may require you to appoint designated roles responsible for compliance management. Therefore, it’s critical that you prioritize inter-departmental transparency regarding compliance management, clearly depicting who is responsible when it comes to key responsibilities.

Additionally, it’s important to consider each person’s role, their tasks’ impact on compliance, and the associated risks per employee. Assess your current compliance posture and the need for, management of, and distribution of resources that will support a company-wide compliance strategy.

Step three: Invest in continuous security awareness training

Security awareness training is a common requirement for most security standards and compliance frameworks. However, when it comes to compliance risk management, it’s pivotal. When it comes to information security, your employees are your first line of defense. No organization can operate smoothly or mitigate risks without knowing how to identify and respond to them.

Step four: Identify the right technology to help your startup manage risk

Regardless of how robust your compliance risk management strategy is, it hinges on your ability to dedicate constant resources and people to monitor and assess all your security controls, as well as all internal and external risks of non-compliance. Unfortunately, this is very rarely sustainable for even large enterprises, let alone startups. 

Therefore, to truly establish an effective compliance risk management strategy, you should utilize the right technology and compliance software solution. The right compliance risk management software can monitor your internal systems and controls in real-time, gauge their effectiveness and align them with your compliance framework. Ultimately, for guaranteed, optimized and consistent compliance that’s risk-free, error-free and up to date with all relevant rules and regulations.

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Automate Your Risk Management Strategy for Guaranteed Compliance

As cybersecurity becomes increasingly important and competitors all the more cut-throat, startups can no longer afford to keep paying for honest mistakes. Hence, why effective risk management is more important than ever. Already have it covered? You may have had a solid strategy last year, but in an ever-changing threat landscape and growing exposure as your startup scales, it may no longer be the case. 
Keep your compliance risk management strategy ahead of the compliance curve with automated, real time control monitoring. In fact, while you’re at it – why not manage your entire compliance journey on auto-pilot?