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What are controls?

Controls are processes you follow as an organization to prevent a potential risk from happening and affecting your business. In TrustCloud, they are the foundational building blocks of the organization’s compliance program. At their core, controls in a compliance management program are the mechanisms, policies, procedures, and practices put in place by an organization to ensure that it adheres to legal requirements, industry standards, and internal policies. They are the safeguards that prevent financial missteps, data breaches, and other compliance nightmares from occurring. In essence, they are proactive steps taken to align organizational processes and transactions with the set compliance requirements.

Implementing effective controls is akin to setting up a robust line of defense against potential compliance violations. They range from simple procedures, such as requiring employees to undergo regular training on data protection laws, to more complex technological solutions like encryption and access controls that protect sensitive information from unauthorized access. Each of them is a critical piece of the puzzle, ensuring that every aspect of the organization’s operations is scrutinized and aligned with compliance requirements.

They are typically categorized into preventive, detective, and corrective actions. Preventive controls aim to deter non-compliant behavior or transactions before they occur. Detective controls are designed to identify and signal non-compliance events after they have happened, allowing for timely intervention. Corrective controls, on the other hand, are put in place to remedy the situation after a compliance breach has been detected.

For effective compliance management, it is critical that they are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in laws, regulations, and business operations. This dynamic approach ensures that the compliance management program remains robust and responsive to external and internal shifts. Additionally, training and awareness initiatives form an integral part of them, equipping employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to act in accordance with compliance requirements. In summary, controls are the backbone of a compliance management program, providing a structured approach to managing compliance risks and reinforcing an organization’s commitment to lawful and ethical conduct.

Common types of controls

In a compliance management program, they ensure that an organization adheres to laws, regulations, and internal policies.  They also help manage risks and ensure adherence to ethical and legal standards. There are three main types of controls. Preventive: measures designed to stop problems before they occur, such as training programs, access controls, and approval processes. Detective: help identify issues after they happen through regular audits, monitoring systems, and incident reporting. Corrective: implemented to fix problems that have been identified, including procedures for addressing breaches, disciplinary actions, and process improvements. Each type of control is essential for maintaining an effective compliance program and ensuring organizational integrity.


Here are some common types found in compliance programs:

  1. Administrative: These involve policies, procedures, and guidelines established by management to ensure compliance. They include things like employee training, documented processes, and assigning responsibilities.
  2. Technical: They use technology to enforce compliance. This can include access, encryption, authentication mechanisms, and monitoring systems to detect and prevent unauthorized access or activities.
  3. Physical: These involve measures to protect physical assets and resources. Examples include locks, security cameras, access badges, and restricted access to sensitive areas.
  4. Detective: They are designed to identify compliance breaches after they occur. This includes activities such as audits, monitoring systems, data analysis, and regular reviews of processes and procedures.
  5. Preventive: They aim to stop compliance violations before they happen. These can include pre-approval processes, segregation of duties, risk assessments, and implementing safeguards to prevent unauthorized actions.
  6. Corrective: They are implemented in response to compliance violations or incidents. They include actions taken to mitigate the impact of breaches, such as disciplinary measures, process improvements, and implementing corrective action plans.
  7. Monitoring and Reporting: These involve ongoing monitoring of compliance activities and reporting mechanisms to track performance, identify issues, and communicate with relevant stakeholders. This can include compliance dashboards, reporting tools, and escalation procedures.

By implementing a combination of them tailored to the specific risks and requirements of the organization, compliance programs can effectively manage and mitigate compliance risks while fostering a culture of integrity and accountability.

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Controls in TrustOps

TrustOps helps you programmatically adopt and verify controls and policies that map to your GRC and customer commitments. With customizable policy and control templates, and tests, you can pass through every audit with confidence. You can map them to your standards, trust portal, and questionnaire intelligence for maximum accuracy.

The following screenshot shows the Controls page in TrustOps.


TrustOps derives controls from two sources:

  1. Custom controls that are built, added and maintained to your TrustCloud program with your own controls.
  2. Controls that are inherited from the TrustCloud Common Controls Framework (TCCCF)

Discover the benefits of using TrustOps to effectively map them and streamline compliance processes. Learn how TrustOps can optimize your operations and enhance trust with key stakeholders.

Ready to save time and money on audits, pass security reviews faster, and manage enterprise-wide risk? Let’s talk!

Video: Controls overview


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