June 11, 2024

Why You Need Continuous Compliance and Risk Management

Ecosystems & Integrations

Continuous compliance and risk management can help keep your organization safe as the threat landscape changes and expands each year. 

The IT operations team is no longer just responsible for a few machines; they are managing complex environments that span across technologies, across teams, and at scale. They're expected to work fast while simultaneously considering the often-conflicting requirements of cost, compliance, and even workforce skills gaps. 

By embracing continuous compliance, IT Ops teams can significantly reduce headaches, proactively manage risk, and contribute to a more secure organization. 

Table of Contents 

What is Continuous Compliance and Risk Management? 

Stop scrambling for audits and stay ahead of security threats. Continuous compliance and risk management automates regulatory and security practices to make sure that your tech is audit-ready and continuously protected from outside threats. 

What’s at risk if you slack on continuous compliance and risk management? 

  • Lost money 
  • Lost time 
  • Reputational damage 
  • Potential legal concerns 

The average cost of cybercrime in the US alone was $8.4 trillion dollars in 2022, ballooning with a prediction for 2027 of $23 trillion dollars according to Anne Neuberger, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for cyber and emerging technologies. 

The “Cost of a Data Breach Report” released by IBM and Ponemon Institute revealed that it takes an average of 277 days (about 9 months) for security teams to identify and contain a data breach — and breaches that involve lost or stolen credentials take even longer at 328 days (about 11 months). Alarmingly, 45% of breaches are cloud based and a substantial 83% of organizations have experienced more than one breach. 

You need both continuous compliance and risk management to help your organization stay secure, since compliance is just one piece of a larger risk management strategy. 

Continuous Compliance vs. Risk Management 

When you compare compliance vs. risk management, you can think of compliance as following traffic laws on the road — necessary, but you need to do more to stay safe. Risk management is how you anticipate and handle hazards on the road. 

Staying continuously compliant is proactive. This strategy goes beyond one-time audits and certifications, focusing on ongoing monitoring and remediation when configuration drift occurs. 

Risk management is reactive. While compliance ensures you're following the rules, risk management helps you identify and mitigate potential threats that could lead to non-compliance — or worse. 

Let’s dive into the specifics: 


Continuous Compliance

Risk Management


Adheres to regulations and standards 

Identifies, assesses, and mitigates all types of risks 


Reactive (responds to changes) 

Proactive (identifies potential issues)


Tactical (follows specific rules) 

Strategic (considers overall business goals) 


Ensures legal and regulatory compliance

Minimizes potential damage and loss 


Regularly updating data security controls 

Identifying and mitigating the risk of a data breach 

Ensure Audit Readiness with Continuous Compliance and Risk Management 

Audits are tough and security benchmarks change with expanding technologies — not to mention managing an increased number of devices and users as companies grow. Continuous compliance can assist with audit readiness by continuously assessing and reporting how aligned systems are against secure configuration benchmarks. 

The benchmarks created by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) are the industry standard for IT compliance, with guidelines and best practices for secure system configurations. However, there are many kinds of security frameworks; some that are more general like CIS Controls, NIST CSF, ISO 27001 and some that are specific to the industry vertical or geographic region like HIPAA or GDPR. 

Organizations often need to comply with more than one regulation and implement a secure configuration baseline that satisfies each. For that reason, it’s good practice to establish a secure baseline with a common framework. CIS benchmarks, or perhaps DISA STIG if you are a federal agency or contractor, are great candidates for this. CIS benchmarks are already referenced as a source of industry-accepted secure configuration standards in the requirements of several common frameworks, including PCI DSS, FISMA, and FedRAMP. 

You can learn more about why to use CIS benchmarks in our webinar “Puppet + CIS: Develop an Effective Strategy for Simplified Compliance.” 

Tips for Staying Audit-Ready and Secure: 

Even if you’re established a secure baseline, audits are not “one and done.” Here’s a few tips on how to maintain readiness, no matter when your next audit takes place: 

  1. Implement a Culture of Compliance: Support a company-wide understanding of relevant regulations and best practices and regularly train employees on corporate compliance policies and best practice procedures. 
  2. Embrace Automation: Use a secure infrastructure platform like Puppet Enterprise to automate tasks like control monitoring, reporting, and evidence collection, streamlining the process and reducing the risk of human error. 
  3. Continuously Monitor and Assess: Proactively identify and address compliance gaps before they become major issues by conducting regular risk assessments to stay updated on evolving threats. Puppet Enterprise incorporates the CIS-CAT Pro Assessor(tm) from the Center for Internet Security to quickly determine when servers fall out of line. 
  4. Maintain a Central Repository: Store compliance-related documents, policies, procedures, and change history in a central location for easy access during an audit. 
  5. Conduct Regular Internal Audits: Don't wait for external audits — use Puppet’s Security Compliance Management with always-on agents to automate checks to ensure that everything is always in your desired state and compliant with CIS or DISA STIGs. 

How to Enforce Continuous Compliance 

Feeling overwhelmed after your compliance audit? You've identified the security misconfigurations, but now what? Manually fixing configurations and keeping them up to date can be a massive headache and is simply not sustainable. 

This is where Puppet Enterprise’s Security Compliance Management comes in. It streamlines the entire process of continuously enforcing hardened security baselines and maintaining compliance. 

Here's how Security Compliance Management helps: 

  • Saves Time and Resources: Forget writing and maintaining your own complex compliance scripts. Puppet automates the enforcement of industry-standard security configurations like CIS benchmarks for Windows and Linux, and DISA STIGs. This frees you to focus on other critical tasks. 
  • Always Up to Date: No more scrambling to keep pace with the latest security threats. Puppet incorporates the newest CIS benchmark versions, ensuring your configurations remain hardened. 
  • Scalability and Customization: Need to enforce compliance across a large infrastructure? No problem. Puppet Enterprise scales effortlessly to meet your organization's needs. Plus, it offers customization options to document and support exceptions, tailoring enforcement to your unique environment. 
  • Achieve Consistent Security: Security Compliance Management ensures consistent security configurations across all your systems, minimizing vulnerabilities and reducing the risk of security breaches. 

By leveraging Puppet Security Compliance Management, you can achieve continuous compliance, standardize security configurations, and free your IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives. 

Compliance is just one aspect of a larger security and risk management program, but it’s a critical piece of the puzzle. Ask anyone on IT Ops about the amount of time they dedicate to audit readiness and compliance — chances are they are just as frantic as the current security landscape. 

Ready to take the next step with Puppet Enterprise? Try it out for free: