Point-in-time vs. continuous monitoring for security
Information security is a moving target; you won’t get strong protection if you put security controls in place once and walk away. There are constantly new security risks arising, and changes to your system can break your security compliance too, so you need to routinely assess your security.
There are two ways to do this: point-in-time monitoring and continuous monitoring. These strategies both have pros and cons, but which one is the best choice for your organization?
What is point-in-time security monitoring?
Point-in-time security monitoring is a type of monitoring in which you perform periodic assessments to see where your security stands. It’s a snapshot of your information security at a single point in time, and it needs to be repeated frequently to keep tabs on your security.
This type of security monitoring is considered to be acceptable in some circumstances. For example, some potential clients may request security information before signing a contract with you but if your partnership only brings minimal risk to their data security, they may accept a point-in-time snapshot of your security system as strong enough documentation for their needs.
Pros and cons of point-in-time monitoring
Point-in-time monitoring is sometimes chosen because it’s quick and has a low cost. For businesses and organizations that have a minimal security budget, point-in-time monitoring is better than skipping security compliance and monitoring altogether.
However, there are important downsides. This type of monitoring leaves critical gaps when your security could be compromised without your knowledge. In addition, minimizing those gaps will require you to perform point-in-time monitoring frequently, which can take away the time and money you expected to save.
What is continuous security monitoring?
While point-in-time monitoring takes an individual snapshot at one moment in time for each assessment, continuous monitoring is a monitoring system that is ongoing at all times. It keeps a constant watch over your information security system to identify security risks and vulnerabilities.
Pros and cons of continuous security monitoring
Unsurprisingly, continuous monitoring is more comprehensive and has better results for your security compliance and the overall security of your data compared to point-in-time monitoring because there are no blind spots between assessments. You’ll be able to stay in compliance with your critical security standards and best pratices consistently, even in spite of changes to your system.
Continuous monitoring does generally have a higher cost than point-in-time monitoring because it runs on an ongoing basis. However, unlike point-in-time monitoring, there’s no assessment schedule to keep track of or repeated assessments to perform, so continuous monitoring does save you time and hassle. It may also make up for the cost by opening the door for lucrative clients who require continuous monitoring.
Point-in-time vs. continuous monitoring: Which one wins?
With all of this under consideration, which is the better choice: point in time vs. continuous monitoring? While they each have potential benefits and either one will be better than skipping monitoring altogether, continuous monitoring is the more secure choice. Your security monitoring is a cornerstone of your security compliance certifications, and choosing continuous monitoring can ensure that you’re adhering to the highest standards.
The simplest way to implement continuous monitoring
If your aim is to protect your organization’s critical data and open opportunities with clients and business partners, continuous monitoring is the way to go, and setting it up may be easier than you expect.
There are numerous tools available for continuous security monitoring, and Vanta’s compliance automation software makes it easy to manage to use the tools of your choice. Vanta integrates seamlessly with many of these top monitoring tools in addition to providing security compliance monitoring of its own. With Vanta, you’ll be able to manage all your security compliance controls on one accessible platform.
To set up everything you need for your compliance management, including continuous monitoring, learn more about Vanta automated compliance software and request a demo today.
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PCI Compliance Selection Guide
Determine Your PCI Compliance Level
If your organization processes, stores, or transmits cardholder data, you must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a global mandate created by major credit card companies. Compliance is mandatory for any business that accepts credit card payments.
When establishing strategies for implementing and maintaining PCI compliance, your organization needs to understand what constitutes a Merchant or Service Provider, and whether a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) or Report on Compliance (ROC) is most applicable to your business.
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Identify your PCI SAQ or ROC level
The PCI Security Standards Council has established the below criteria for Merchant and Service Provider validation. Use these descriptions to help determine the SAQ or ROC that best applies to your organization.
Good news! Vanta supports all of the following compliance levels:
A SAQ A is required for Merchants that do not require the physical presence of a credit card (like an eCommerce, mail, or telephone purchase). This means that the Merchant’s business has fully outsourced all cardholder data processing to PCI DSS compliant third party Service Providers, with no electronic storage, processing, or transmission of any cardholder data on the Merchant’s system or premises.
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A SAQ A-EP is similar to a SAQ A, but is a requirement for Merchants that don't receive cardholder data, but control how cardholder data is redirected to a PCI DSS validated third-party payment processor.
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A SAQ D includes over 200 requirements and covers the entirety of PCI DSS compliance. If you are a Service Provider, a SAQ D is the only SAQ you’re eligible to complete.
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A Report on Compliance (ROC) is an annual assessment that determines your organization’s ability to protect cardholder data. If you’re a Merchant that processes over six million transactions annually or a Service Provider that processes more than 300,000 transactions annually, your organization is responsible for both a ROC and an Attestation of Compliance (AOC).
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Learn more about how Vanta can help. You can also find information on PCI compliance levels at the PCI Security Standards Council website or by contacting your payment processing partner.
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