What is Governance, Risk and Compliance?

 What is cybersecurity governance, risk, and compliance (GRC)?

If you have been digging into cybersecurity, and particularly if you are utilising the NIST cybersecurity framework to guide your company’s protocols, you have probably heard the acronym “GRC.” But what IS GRC, and what do its constituent parts mean for your company’s cybersecurity infrastructure?

According to CIO.com

Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) refer to a strategy for managing an organization’s overall governance, enterprise risk management and compliance with regulations. Think of GRC as a structured approach to aligning IT with business objectives, while effectively managing risk and meeting compliance requirements.

Even though governance, risk, and compliance are interrelated, and cybersecurity GRC should be considered jointly in your framework, let’s discuss each component separately before circling back to GCR overall. 

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In this context, cybersecurity governance relates to the organizational plan for cybersecurity and information security. As the University System of Georgia explains:

Effective security governance is managed as an organizational-wide issue that is planned, managed and measured in all areas throughout the organization. In IT Governance, leaders are accountable for and are committed to providing adequate resources to information security. 

They go on to list a number of principles that should guide thinking on cybersecurity governance. These include the suggestion that companies should:

  • Conduct an annual cybersecurity evaluation, review the evaluation results with staff, and report on performance.
  • Conduct periodic risk assessments of information assets as part of a risk management program.
  • Implement policies and procedures based on risk assessments to secure information assets.
  • Establish a security management structure to assign explicit individual roles, responsibilities, authority, and accountability.

Once a system of governance has been established and clearly defined, the second component of cybersecurity GRC, an assessment of risk, can begin.


The next step in creating a GRC-driven cybersecurity infrastructure is to assess risk. You will want to understand your current cybersecurity infrastructure and any potential gaps in your system. As StickmanCyber explains, a comprehensive risk analysis will attempt to:

  • Understand your specific business context and cybersecurity requirements
  • Identify existing gaps and vulnerabilities in your security posture
  • Share a comprehensive list of recommendations to mitigate vulnerabilities and close security gaps

Those recommendations should, ideally, be aligned with your company’s overall strategies, and also with any mandated (or desired) cybersecurity compliance frameworks.


Certain industries require specific cybersecurity certifications in order to be compliant with governmental or industrial protocols. The third part of cybersecurity GRC involves developing a thorough understanding of those frameworks and ensuring that your organization is in compliance.

While there are a number of frameworks in place, including the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO 27001 Certification, and PCI DSS Compliance, most frameworks will involve a thorough consideration of your GRC.  

Governance, risk, and compliance play a vital role in any cybersecurity plan. Evaluating your needs and risks will help you to keep your business, and your client’s information, safe.

Ready to Improve and Enhance Your Cybersecurity Posture? Know your exact challenge and want a solution partner? Just starting to evaluate your cybersecurity GRC requirements? 

The StickmanCyber team can help.

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