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What Is The Relationship Between GRC and Security?

Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) is an organizational function responsible for addressing uncertainty in organizations and ensuring that the organization maintains integrity. Because cyber attacks are one of the primary threats facing modern organizations, the practice of GRC is inseparable from cybersecurity.

In most organizations, GRC and cybersecurity are managed by different people or departments. However, close integration, alignment, and knowledge sharing between these functions are critical for the success of both.

Key Components of Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance (GRC)


Governance refers to a general management approach whereby senior executives control and direct the whole organization. These executives use a combination of hierarchical management and management information control structures.

Governance activities ensure that management information communicated with the executive team is accurate, sufficient, and timely. These activities should inform management decisions and provide an effective control structure. This process must facilitate management’s successful and systematic execution of directions, instructions, and strategies.


Risk functions typically focus on financial risks. There are different financial risk types, including business continuity risks, vendor risk, and indemnification (insurance). Generally, this function reports to the CFO.

Conventional risk management may occasionally clash with other groups, especially when seen as a hurdle preventing innovation. The organization needs to determine its tolerance for risk and ability to innovate within these limitations. For instance, certain organizations have great successes and failures because they are ready to adopt significant risks relating to stock price, bottom line, and reputation.


Compliance deals with regulatory and legal compliance. Today, compliance programs cover a variety of regulatory frameworks, including those related to financial data (Sarbanes-Oxley), customer and employee data (GDPR), and patient data (HIPAA). Organizations should know which external regulations they must meet and translate those regulations and rules into processes and practices that establish compliance.

Here are some key characteristics of organizational compliance:

  • Compliance is subject to internal audits and external audits by third parties—companies first validate the effectiveness of their own controls before external consulting firms check whether their clients’ businesses are compliant. A regulatory auditor can also carry out these tasks.
  • Organizations attempt to resolve issues before government auditors identify them—if the external or regulatory auditor finds a problem, the organization will probably be subject to regulatory fines. If it is a public organization, it must take this problem to its shareholders. A lawsuit might also result if the infringement has adversely affected customers.
  • Compliance is strongly related to data protection—especially in the wake of global data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Related content: Read our guide to GRC audits (coming soon)

What Is IT Security?

IT security incorporates the tools, personnel, and methods used to protect an organization’s digital assets. IT security aims to defend these services, devices, and assets from being stolen, exploited, or disrupted by unauthorized users, also called threat actors. These threats might be internal or external and may be accidental or malicious in nature.

A successful security strategy employs a variety of approaches to limit vulnerabilities and target different cyber threats. Technological innovation provides advantages for both cybercriminals and IT defenders. To secure business assets, organizations should periodically update, improve, and review their security capabilities to remain ahead of advanced cyber threats.

Integrating Risk Management with Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity impacts all business decisions and must be a component of an enterprise-wide GRC program.

Here are some key features of effective GRC programs:

  • GRC must unite a top-down process with a bottom-up operational process—senior management and the board specify the risk tolerance and hand it over to their executive teams to implement the appropriate strategies. 
  • Cybersecurity risk should be a core component of the GRC process—data privacy and cyber risk became more important issues as the pandemic accelerated online transactions, homeworking, and cash-free shipping.
  • Integration between GRC and cybersecurity—there is a symbiotic connection between GRC and cybersecurity, and the two cannot be separated.

Here are three strategies you can use to arrive at an integrated approach to cyber risk:

1. Work across different departments and teams

Several departments make up GRC. Stakeholders must work across different teams and departments—as interdependencies can be used to create a holistic approach. For example, information from compliance might help with cyber risk planning and the other way around.

Cyber attacks represent a considerable business risk, including lost revenue and regulatory fines. The technology and cybersecurity teams should thus define the risk posture of the cyber team and the business as a whole.

2. Ensure easy access to all relevant information

Having access to relevant information is essential for successful risk management. However, in many organizations, information required for GRC is not readily available. A concerted effort is needed across departments to ensure risk information is standardized and distributed effectively across the organization.

3. Minimize departmental silos

An integrated approach to cybersecurity and GRC minimizes departmental silos, which also provides the CISO and whole cybersecurity team with the information they require, when it’s needed, to discover and mitigate threats. Information may be communicated faster within an integrated GRC strategy, speeding up an organization’s response to cyber threats.

GRC Security Tools

Here are some examples of GRC tools that you can use for an effective governance, risk, and compliance strategy that addresses cybersecurity risks.

User Access Management Software

Many organizations approach user management software as a subset of GRC software. Many key controls are related to user access reviews, separation of duties, compliant provisioning and de-provisioning, and other access-related processes. However, user management software is often owned by IT and application teams as well because it helps monitor access and user privileges to organizational systems. This monitoring process helps organizations enforce a least privilege policy, restricting everyone to the least level of access they require to carry out their job tasks.

Virtual CISO Services

Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) services comprise different services offered by managed security service providers (MSSPs), meant to work in place of or complement the CISO role within an organization. These services can be advantageous when maintaining or establishing risk and compliance frameworks, as they offer near-instant access to a team of cybersecurity professionals.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools

Organizations can use SIEM tools to detect intrusion attempts and log event details. Having the capability to centrally store and query logs of network events helps organizations gain improved visibility into security incidents.

Organizations can also use this insight to comply with important industry cybersecurity regulations. Such visibility also makes investigations into security incidents more effective and efficient.

Related content: Read our guide to GRC tools

GRC Security with Pathlock

GRC is a hassle, with seemingly endless amounts of manual work piling up by the day. Organizations typically have 200+ key internal controls to prove each type of compliance, and each control takes 40 or more hours to test. Furthermore, testing on these controls may only be done once a year. This is an error-prone process that only looks at 3-5% of the activity in a given enterprise.

Pathlock shifts organizations towards a continuous compliance approach, which proactively monitors controls and reports on violations of those controls in real-time. Organizations can have complete visibility of their risk and compliance status at all times, so they are always prepared for the next audit.

Complete Visibility

Pathlock radiates GRC and IRM information to the most critical tools in your landscape for real-time status on your key controls. Pathlock integrates with ServiceNow, MetricStream, Archer, SailPoint, Okta, SAP GRC, and more.

Comprehensive Rulebook

Pathlock can provide out-of-the-box coverage for controls related to SOX, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, NIST, and other leading compliance frameworks. 

Real-time Risk Mitigation

Pathlock allows users to quickly investigate and respond to potential risky transactions by reviewing access, de-provisioning users, forcing 2FA, or even allowing Pathlock to respond intelligently in real-time, terminating suspicious sessions and blocking transactions in real-time.

Out-of-the-Box Integrations

Pathlock’s out-of-the-box integrations have your key business applications covered. Monitor and enforce controls across SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Workday, NetSuite, Dynamics365, and more.

Lateral SOD Correlation

All entitlements and roles are correlated with a user’s transactional behavior, consolidating activities and showing cross-application SODs between financially relevant applications.

Continuous Control Monitoring

Pathlock identifies the largest risks by monitoring 100% of financial transactions from applications like SAP in real-time, surfacing violations for remediation and investigation.

Interested to find out more about how Pathlock is changing the future of GRC? Request a demo to explore the leading solution for enforcing compliance and reducing risk.

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