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This is part 2 of a 4-part series addressing compliance myths and what you need to know about uniting compliance and security in a hybrid environment.

Many organizations have adopted a passive compliance playbook. Since they don’t know how to figure out what’s really on their hybrid networks, they do the best they can with limited knowledge and hope their controls meet requirements. But when it’s time for an audit, they don’t know what they don’t know. And the fire drill begins.

While they were smarting from the pain of the last audit, their infrastructure was growing more complex and dynamic. Regulations continued to change, but firewall policies may or may not have been updated. Hidden threats have been accumulating, but no one is aware of them. And the organization’s ability to respond to an audit has gotten more and more difficult while nobody was looking.

If this sounds familiar, you have a problem. But you also have a solution. While your network was evolving, so was the technology needed to enable 24/7/365 audit-readiness.

Why are Network Security Audits So Hard?

A new regulatory alert is issued every seven minutes, and standards for compliance are also changing within the context of these evolving hybrid environments. For example, GDPR & CCPA both ask where consumer data is stored. If the answer is, “in the cloud,” then there is a whole new dimension of compliance mandates to deal with, beyond those that are top of mind in the run-up to an audit.

The evolution of hybrid environments remains the most critical challenge to maintaining security and compliance. Apps are everywhere: they’re getting migrated to the cloud and back to the datacenter. Their databases are in one place and their data in another. Keeping track of all the moving pieces is impossible to do with manual processes, and compliance and security personnel struggle to catch up.

As a result, preparing for an audit is incredibly costly. Not only are there the direct costs of getting ready, there is also the cost of taking all the network administrators away from their work so they can focus on the audit when they should be focusing on maintenance or advancing the business’s technology.

And then there’s compliance drift.  You were compliant last month, but since then your network has changed. Your users have brought in their own devices. Somebody in DevOps wrote an app but didn’t document it. You don’t have visibility of all these changes, so you don’t know it, but you’re not compliant. When an auditor comes in next year, you’re going to spend weeks or months getting ready.  You might even incur more costs: 34 percent of businesses—up from 28 percent in 2019 ¾outsource all or part of their compliance efforts, and the trend is growing. And then after the auditor leaves, you’re going to drift back out of compliance and go through the entire process again next time.

This cycle is not only expensive, it’s exhausting and soul-crushing. There is no research that directly ties the relentless cycle of audit preparation to the difficulty in retaining security professionals, but 40 percent of security executives say that high work stress levels are a driving factor in their inability to retain security staff. And no one can deny that audit preparation is stressful.

What Does It Take to Be Audit-Ready All the Time?

Compliance should be easy. Audit-readiness has been a reality since automation provided a way to check controls for a regulation in real-time. As far back as 2011, Network World was reporting that “the only way to survive the audit process is with automation.” Yet a decade later, many businesses are stuck in the same old rut, wasting money and time on tasks that a machine could do more efficiently and accurately.

Compliance is achieved when you have a process and tools to analyze all of the data. Next-generation firewalls and logging technologies take advantage of the data streaming out of your network, so your compliance and network security teams can look at the data in real-time, make adjustments quickly, and reduce risks.

Tightened network controls and access gives auditors the assurance that your organization is taking proactive steps to orchestrate network traffic. With constant log analysis, you can verify compliance has been achieved. This continuous analysis happens whether an audit is on the schedule or not.

The takeaway is that as your network and regulatory standards evolve, the way you approach compliance must evolve as well. Compliance can no longer be a point-in-time assessment—it must be a continuous validation process with real-time continuous monitoring that shows improvement or mitigation of risk.

Cut Your Compliance Reporting Time by 300% with Continuous Compliance with FireMon

  • Scuttle outdated manual processes and stay audit-ready with a comprehensive set of security policy automation capabilities that drive smart security process automation. Our customers report a reduction of more than 300 percent in the time it takes them to produce audit reports.
  • Proactive security policy compliance detects 40 percent more devices and applies policies automatically, reduces compliance reporting time by 90 percent, and delivers full audit compliance across all applicable regulations.
  • Drive efficiency, agility, and efficacy by aligning automated tasks to your specific requirements and gain the flexibility to manage your automation journey at your pace and confidence level.

Security Policy Compliance for Every Use Case, Infrastructure, and Standard

FireMon provides powerful tools to help you reduce the time spent on audits and produce more accurate results. Only FireMon’s agile network security policy management platform allows you to:

  • Provide risk and complexity reduction by orchestrating and managing optimal security policy and network configuration.
  • Deliver continuous intent-based security and orchestration for complex hybrid environments, giving both security and business stakeholders one consistent operating model that improves security, increases agility, and reduces cost.
  • Offer intelligent automated workflow and provisioning that enables network security and operations teams to implement the right changes with precision across the entire rule lifecycle.
  • Automate the change review process and streamlines rule justification and clean-up efforts to optimize performance and ensure continuous compliance with internal and external standards.
  • Provide real-time visibility to identify and eliminate your hybrid infrastructure blind spots so cloud, network, and security teams can find and secure unknown, rogue, and shadow clouds, network infrastructure, and endpoints.

Save More Time and Detect More Devices with Continuous Compliance

Manual processes and a lack of visibility into your infrastructure don’t have to prevent you from always being audit-ready anymore. FireMon security policy automation shrinks your overall audit time so you never have to play the dreaded game of audit catch-up again.

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