Using Compliance-as-Code to Stay Current on Data Protection
Agile software development, which allows for the early and continuous delivery of software, has significantly sped up the development cycle. Users increasingly expect software applications to be available within weeks, or even days, with new iterations available on a rolling basis. As continuous delivery becomes the norm, keeping up with digital security and data privacy requirements can be a challenge. Compliance-as-code brings compliance up to speed with the development process, making it an ongoing endeavor.
Briefly, compliance-as-code is the practice of translating compliance requirements into a machine-readable language, so that those requirements can be continuously deployed across your IT network. The practice builds compliance into development and operations from the first stages of the process so that it is fully integrated into the workings of your DevOps team.
Compliance-as-Code and Policy-as-Code
Compliance as code can be understood as a logical extension of policy as code. Policy as code is the practice of encoding policies so that they can be managed and automated company wide. Writing policy into code allows for automated testing and deployment across your IT estate.
Writing compliance into code creates a common standard and keeps everyone on your team on the same page – a rare attainment in today’s landscape. Thomson Reuters, a leading source of business information services, has declared that “the single biggest culture or conduct risk facing firms is creating a unified compliance culture.” Meeting that challenge, therefore, and facing that risk automatically puts a firm head and shoulders above the competition.
Continuous compliance assistance creates that compliance culture and helps to detect infrastructure drift by continuously monitoring and reporting compliance violations. Likewise, continuous security and compliance checks enforce cloud security and best practices throughout, from build to deployment.
Compliance as code allows risks to be visualized so that users can apply a common set of benchmarks to assess compliance across all assets. The practice also makes it easy to issue detailed reports so that they can be addressed as quickly as possible.
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What are the Consequences of Not Using Compliance-as-Code?
1. Slowing Down Operations
Compliance issues can slow down business operations, especially in highly regulated industries like finance or medicine. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act, and the Health Insurance Portability Accountancy Act (HIPAA) are probably the best-known regulations, but they are far from the only ones.
The highly-regulated financial industry has been relatively slow to transition to the cloud, as ITWorld Canada reports, even though the benefits of the move are clear. An estimated one in four workplaces across industries have shifted to using the cloud, but only 16 percent of the financial industry has moved to the cloud, according to IBM. The drop-off in adoption can be accounted for by regulatory issues. The struggle to keep up with relevant government regulations, especially in an industry that spans a broad geographical range, has been a deterrent to adopting valuable new technology.
2. Financial Cost
The financial cost of compliance can be seen on several levels at once. The 2020 Thomson Reuters compliance report found that slightly over a third of firms (34%) expect their compliance teams to keep growing in the coming year. This number is falling from past years, but it indicates that for many firms, the cost of maintaining a team with the right subject matter expertise is still growing.
Concerns about fines and penalties for failure to comply with changing regulations are also an issue for businesses.
3. Room for Human Errors
Handling compliance issues manually leaves the door wide open to human error. This is always the case with manual operations, but it becomes more of a concern as the compliance process grows more complex. In recent years, regulations have multiplied and have been subject to frequent and unpredictable changes.
There has been widespread confusion about the implementation of standards, at a domestic and international level. Not surprisingly, many executives say that confusion over changing rules impacted the way they do business.
Thomson Reuters reported that in 2019 alone, there were 56,624 regulatory alerts captured from 1,000 regulatory bodies. That’s an average of 217 updates per day. In 2020, executives reported that regulatory change was the top compliance issue they faced, given the difficulty in keeping up with ever-shifting requirements.
Compliance-as-Code as a Solution
Compliance as code has the capability to detect and correct compliance issues in near real time. Given that customers are used to a continuous integration / continuous delivery model, this is vital for anyone who needs to keep up with data privacy and digital security regulations.
Compliance as code can prevent non-compliance by automatically delivering planned updates throughout your network. It can detect non-compliance wherever it occurs and correct it with near-immediacy.
This neatly addresses concerns about regulatory changes and about possible fines and penalties; it also cuts costs across the board. If compliance can be written into software applications from the very start of development, then it can also be continuously updated in the event of changing regulations. Encoding compliance means that it’s possible to push updates out immediately. There’s no longer a need to manually bring applications in line with new regulations. As a cost-saving measure and an efficiency tool, it’s hard to beat this.
Encoding compliance should make it possible for even highly-regulated industries to stay current with any applicable standards and regulations, without giving up their ability to venture into the cloud. In other words, compliance as code should obviate the need to choose between compliance and new technology. This is a technological fix which makes it easier to continue to explore new horizons. Instead of letting regulatory anxiety hold them back from the cloud, firms can now confidently launch themselves forward into new terrain.
With Magalix Platform, you can create and build policies from Magalix vast library of policies to cover your security, compliance, and operatiotional needs. You can visualize the risks and uniformly assess your compliance with Magalix security and compliance reports.