Where Compliance Assessments Fall Short, Maturity Assessments Rise to the Challenge


The Problem with Compliance Assessments

Newly-minted information security leaders often learn that regulatory or contractual requirements are the primary business driver for their organizations’ security program. Tasked with developing a plan for implementing controls, these leaders turn to compliance assessments to understand the gaps between requirements and operational realities. Ultimately, the organization’s interpretation of compliance mandates may lead to overly burdensome or lax approaches to meeting the requirements. Neither approach is particularly effective, since one suggests a need for security controls that can hinder operations and the other suggests that controls should only meet the lowest possible bar.

As a measurement tool, compliance assessments are blunt instruments that focus primarily on the existence of controls. These assessments tend to yield binary results – either the organization is compliant, or not. Implementing security effectively via the results of a compliance assessment is challenging, since gaps in compliance suggest (for the uninitiated) the need for security investments that may be disproportionate to the problem the organization is trying to solve.

Leveraging Maturity Assessments

Maturity assessments represent an alternative security measurement approach. The key difference is in maturity assessments’ focus on business process as the key indicator of the effectiveness of a security program. This assessment approach yields a more nuanced understanding of effectiveness and efficiency aligned with compliance requirements.

For maturity assessments, security controls are evaluated alongside organizational culture, capacity and risk appetite. The results of a maturity assessment provide the security leader with the knowledge to address security holistically. Unlike the yes/no metrics of compliance assessments, security leaders can use this information to elevate the discussion with executives by tying security solutions to business objectives. The maturity assessment identifies, quantifies and recommends strategies to leverage the organization’s capacity to implement security in a manner that emphasizes process efficiency and effectiveness.

Automate Maturity Assessments

Secure Digital Solutions’ TrustMAPP™ platform, powered by the MAPP™ (Maturity Assessment, Profile, and Plan) methodology, offers security leaders the ability to:

  • Identify how much security is “enough” by establishing process-level performance goals
  • Measure the effectiveness of your security programs and the capacity to accomplish outcomes
  • Link information security metrics and measurement back to business value and strategy
  • Use analytics and estimated level of effort to tell a compelling story to business executives and the board

TrustMAPP reports security posture by maturity levels, including trending analysis, planning, budgeting, and built-in support for multiple security frameworks and regulations. As a cloud solution, TrustMAPP enables clients to begin assessing their information security program in weeks instead of months. TrustMAPP helps security leaders create and communicate a strategic roadmap, build budgets and resource plans to guide their organizations’ security activities.