Data Management

One of the biggest corporate assets that’s at the center of most cyber-attacks is the company’s data.  The first step in protecting your data is to document how data is collected and how it flows through the organization.  A thorough data audit should be completed documenting where data is collected, how it stored, who has access to it, and what security measures are put in place.  This is an important step as it’s an enterprise-wide exercise.  All too often data policies reside at the department level, and this is a mistake. Departmental data may appear secure, but without a holistic plan there are vulnerabilities at every interface point throughout the system.  It’s also a good idea to classify your data according to its value and sensitivity levels.

Most companies classify their data in one of three ways:

  1. Public data – data that is available to the public and as a result doesn’t require any special protection.
  2. Restricted data – data that has the potential of negatively impacting your company if it was breached.  Typically access to this information has restricted access and is monitored.
  3. Confidential data – data that carries the potential for catastrophic consequences to the company, if it were to be compromised. This data is usually isolated, with stricter access controls, automated monitoring, and workflows that trigger alerts if any events are detected.

Implementing a holistic plan to data security and compliance will be much easier if you fully understand your data assets, what levels of data you have, and where all the touch points are.  After your data audit is complete, you need to use the results to support the implementation of the technologies needed to protect the data assets, the creation of policies and procedures that align with industry regulations and data privacy laws, and finally a recovery plan in case of a cyber-attack.

Now that you have a better understanding of where security breaches are likely to originate from and how to mitigate those risks, the next question is what’s the best way to manage cyber risks from an enterprise level?

The problem with this is there is no easy answer, and because malware and hackers are constantly evolving, there isn’t a way to guarantee you will never experience a security breach.  However, there are important steps you can put in place to minimize the risk.

  1. First and foremost, there has to be support from the executive management team. Without active sponsorship from the top, it’s almost impossible to put in place the security measures needed to adequately protect the company from a cyber-breach, and an even lessor chance that the risk management needs would be supported and improved on an ongoing basis.
  2. Once you have secured executive sponsorship, the next step should be to educate your employee base.  Employees need to be informed on what and where the risks are and then trained on how to spot potential scams or phishing schemes.  As part of this process, you will need to develop access control policies, ensuring that employees only have the privileges necessary to successfully do their jobs. The employees who have access to critical data also need to be trained on how to securely handle the data, and how to identify and respond to a cyber-security incident.
  3. The next important step is to ensure all of your network devices and firmware are regularly updated and that all patches and service packs are applied.
  4. Lastly, invest in the technology and resources needed to protect and monitor your network.  This includes investing in the hardware, software, and the right personnel to vigilantly monitor your systems, processes, and activities for potential risks or breaches.

Still not sure you understand the threats or have a good plan in place? Consider hiring a network security consultant and check out these great resources on more types for threats:

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