The cost of compliance

Reacting to data security problems is costlier than taking steps to avoid them, a new report says.

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What: "Governance, Risk and Compliance Software: Consistency Keeps Your Agency's Data Secure," a white paper by Dell Software based on a survey conducted by Market Connections.

Why: In an ideal world, agency leaders would have the time and resources to be proactive when it comes to protecting their agencies' data. However, in the current budget and threat landscape, agencies spend more time fighting fires than preventing them, according to Dell's June 4 white paper.

That might have something to do with the fact that 72 percent of respondents said they have to comply with three or more federal mandates, with the Federal Information Security Management Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard being the most common.

At Dell's request, Market Connections surveyed 200 federal IT workers about their attitudes toward governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) software. Thirty percent of respondents came from the defense/intelligence community, 63 percent worked at civilian agencies, and 7 percent were identified as "other."

Of those who said their approach to data breaches was reactive, 66 percent were concerned about limited manpower -- versus 49 percent of proactive respondents. Furthermore, 23 percent of reactive respondents were concerned about the lack of a GRC strategy, compared with 6 percent of proactive respondents.

Beyond the costs associated with data breaches, being reactive results in a drop in employee productivity. More than one-third of respondents said they are losing the ability to accomplish their missions because managing the maintenance of their IT systems is so difficult.

The Dell paper quotes a Ponemon Institute report that cites the cost of compliance as $222 per employee and noncompliance as about $820 per employee. Despite the high cost of noncompliance, 59 percent of respondents to Dell's survey were concerned about limited budgets for GRC software.

Furthermore, 54 percent of respondents said their ability to provide managers and auditors with evidence of appropriate IT controls is either fair or poor.

The top five IT and compliance concerns for respondents were limited manpower, limited budget, loss of productivity, sufficient data protection from leaks and breaches, and system downtime.

Verbatim: "The efficiency of GRC software tools allows IT departments to focus on mission-critical activities rather than focusing resources on security and compliance. A compliance solution more than pays for itself in reduced operational costs and the ability to comply with mandates. GRC tools help apply the consistency that keeps IT healthy and data secure."

Full report: Click here.

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