No data protection regulation anywhere in the world expects your business to have a 100 percent perfect plan for fighting cybersecurity threats. However, your business is definitely expected to install all the necessary checks and balances that make up a resilient defense. These checks and balances are referred to as data security controls or measures.
Should your business ever undergo a security breach and you fail to produce satisfactory evidence about undertaking preventive data security measures, you could find yourself in serious trouble. Two of the most common consequences you could face would be your cyber insurance provider’s refusal to pay for damages and a regulatory body initiating punitive action against your business.
This short read will introduce you to the types of data security measures, the ones you must undertake immediately and why the time to act is now.
Understanding Data Security Controls
Data security controls are aimed towards reducing threats to sensitive and mission-critical data by following data security best practices and enforcing robust policies. These controls or measures can be largely divided into four categories:
- Operational Controls: Procedures, rules and other mechanisms aimed at protecting systems and applications.
- Technical Controls: Safeguards installed within the information systems to enforce data security policies. For example, the act of authenticating every login with two-factor or multifactor authentication.
- Administrative Controls: Policies and procedures ensuring that data security standards are followed. For example, a policy stating how the data will ideally be shared with third parties and the penalties for any violations.
- Architectural Controls: Steps focused on how an organization’s technology assets, such as endpoints, devices and storages, are connected to each other. For example, vulnerability assessments to detect weak spots in a network’s architecture.
Several compliance regulations highlight the importance of such controls and often list down the kind of measures a business must undertake to demonstrate full compliance. For example, the Security Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lists down the administrative, physical and technical safeguards needed to secure the integrity of Protected Health Information (PHI). Any business mandated to comply with HIPAA, that fails to produce documented evidence of the existence of these safeguards, faces punitive action for non-compliance.
If you have kept the idea of implementing these measures on the backburner until now, it’s high time you reconsider your stance and attend to it proactively. Not doing so can prove to be very costly, especially in today’s threat landscape, which has only worsened tenfold due to the pandemic.
Remote Work = More Security Concerns = Greater Need for Compliance
Any business knows how challenging it is to protect remote devices (and users) from looming security threats. The year 2020 saw this challenge quadruple, with remote work increasing at an unprecedented rate. A Gartner report stated that 88 percent of businesses worldwide mandated or encouraged all their employees to work remotely from their homes once COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.
It is important to remember that compliance requirements apply to remote devices on your business’ network as well. And with the rise in the number of remote devices, it is vital to chalk out a meticulous strategy to implement suitable data security measures to make your business resilient to cybersecurity threats. If you’re wondering what these measures are, keep reading.
Data Security Controls You Must Implement
While it’s understandable that implementing certain policies and procedures can be a long and tiring effort, listed below are some of the data security measures and best practices you can start with:
- Asset Discovery and Management: Ensuring every single information asset and device on your network is accounted for and managed.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM): Efforts undertaken to define, maintain and authenticate access to your network, especially from remote users, to avoid any unauthorized access.
- Data Discovery and Classification: Discovering and documenting the type of data your business collects, where it is stored and how it is processed, to determine a risk matrix.
- Ongoing Risk Management: The act of gauging the risks your business data faces on a regular basis, including third-party risks, and carrying out remediation efforts proactively.
- Protection Against Threats: Deploying the necessary technology to build a solid defense against various threats.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Acquiring robust tools to back up and recover data following an unsavory incident and testing them regularly.
- Incident Response Plan (IRP): A comprehensive plan to identify a security incident, contain it, notify your clients/customers about it, recover from it and document learnings from it.
You don’t have to take on this journey alone. Leveraging expertise and experience can help you carry out the process both efficiently and effectively.