When you are on the front lines charged with the critical duty of ensuring that your company’s information and systems are as protected as possible from risk, your data security strategy needs to be complex and multi-layered. Threats can come in numerous forms: malware, hacking, financial or information theft, sabotage, spying and even as a result of the deliberate or unintentional activities of your own trusted employees. For that reason, your organization needs to focus on implementing a comprehensive architecture of protocols designed specifically to protect your assets against all threats.
It is impossible to thoroughly guard against unauthorized access if you are not fully aware of your own resources. Therefore, your first step must be to fully map all of your data and systems. Do your best to assess your entire environment for holes or other vulnerabilities in your controls, computer technology and internal or third-party cloud-based storage center. This process should enable you to answer the following questions:
- What is your system’s function, and how does it accomplish its purpose?
- What gaps or vulnerabilities exist?
- How much risk is my network in, and what would be the impact of a breach?
- What does our control environment look like? Have we set up adequate safeguards?
Then prioritize your data according to its criticality, implementing data security methods on the most important first but being sure to cover your whole infrastructure as well as possible.
Assemble Your Weapons
Ensuring the privacy and integrity of your corporate landscape requires a coordinated balance of many moving parts. These include the following:
- Governance. Your multi-faceted data security strategy requires an organizational framework to help you in managing all of the systems and personnel involved. To that end, you must set policies, protocols and business rules pertaining to how systems are controlled across departments and sites as well as which staff are accountable in completing specific tasks.
- Strong authentication. Today, solid passwords are a must, but they are only the beginning. Many organizations are finding that they need to implement additional safeguards such as two-factor authentication, single sign-on, automated tokenization or biometrics in order to repel cyber attacks.
- Encryption. Whether sensitive data is simply stored at rest or is traveling throughout your network, it must be shielded via encryption. All of your servers, computers, laptops and mobile phones and other devices must use it. Furthermore, all outgoing emails must be protected in this way.
- Mobile device management (MDM) is essential in this era of portable technologies. While tablets and phones are extremely convenient and can boost productivity, they are also highly vulnerable to breach. Your MDM protocols will outline all of the procedures and controls pertaining to these devices that include determining what applications are allowed to be installed, wiping devices if they are lost or stolen or decommissioning them altogether.
- Data backup. Failing to protect data by performing regular, thorough backups has been the downfall of many businesses. In the event that an attack occurs, having copies of all of your sensitive information in a secure center or in the cloud can lead to a faster recovery from a breach and can minimize downtime.
- Analytics and threat detection. As cyber threats evolve, you need automated mechanisms that can prowl the perimeters of your networks and find anomalies and traffic pattern changes. Although artificial intelligence and other methods are relatively new to the scene, they are becoming increasingly indispensable in the never-ending fight against cyber crime.
- Training. Protecting your assets is not just the job of your IT team or third-party vendors. Every employee regardless of level or job description must take responsibility and help to do their part in this vital task. However, this is impossible unless they are given basic training and tips on how to stay safe from attacks. Elements of your training might include social media and online best practices, steps for keeping technologies, software and apps protected and updated and what precautions to use when receiving email and opening attachments.
In addition, employees can be taught some basic social engineering techniques of their own that they can use to spot potentially suspicious behaviors.
Use Data Security Techniques to Efficiently Respond to A Breach
No matter how hard you work to prepare, build and implement all of the elements of robust security strategies by using all of the physical control mechanisms and cutting-edge technologies and protocols you can afford, your enterprise can never be 100 percent immune from attack. For that reason, you must also have a number of incident response procedures in place including the following:
- Identify the threat
- Isolate and contain it
- Neutralize or eradicate it
- Recover from it
- Study the threat to understand why it happened
- Prevent future incidents.
When it comes to matters of computer networking data security techniques, each business must come up with its own priorities and standards based on its objectives, how it interacts with internal and outside entities and personnel, the industry in which it operates and the sensitivity of the data involved. This is an undertaking that requires a good deal of collaboration and insight. Participating in the development of a fully realized data security strategy can protect your company from threat, lower your risks of attack and keep all stakeholders in the loop as each plays his or her own vital role in the process.