1. In The Know

6 Ingredients of a Successful Data Security Program

  • December 22, 2017

In just the first half of 2017, nearly two million data records were compromised worldwide. And of the 918 breaches that occurred, a whopping 801 (87%) took place in the U.S. With so many breaches in recent years, data security has never been a hotter topic, nor a bigger problem. It seems as though around every corner, someone is trying to get into secure company networks—whether to access and abuse specific data, or simply to wreak havoc.

Whatever the motivation, it’s your individual organization’s responsibility to protect itself from attack. You need a holistic data security program, designed to protect vulnerable areas and attack threats at every layer of the technology stack, from the network, to the infrastructure, all the way down to individual laptops. Now, you probably already know this. But do you know exactly what it takes to bring a comprehensive data security program to life?  

Here, I’ve compiled the key ingredients that are needed to establish a truly holistic, and ultimately successful, data security program.

  • Awareness – While many people commonly believe that technology is the best barrier to an attack, in reality, it’s your people that can have the biggest impact on your data security. When your employees are aware of the risks, and all the ways they can help to mitigate them, you’ll set a strong foundation for the success of your security program. It’s critical to conduct ongoing data security training—not just for the IT department, but for everyone that touches technology in your company.
  • Process – Processes and policies ensure that your security program is operating continuously, consistently, and effectively. Think through all of the data-related activities that need to be completed on a regular basis—everything from penetration testing, to company-wide password updates, all the way through employee offboarding. Having processes and polices for these activities will help keep everyone on your team working together towards the same goal: keeping your data safe.
  • Toolkit – Think of your toolkit as your armor and weaponry—it should contain all of the technologies and tactics needed to protect and defend your data. It’s important to do your due diligence upfront, researching all of your options before making a selection. And don’t forget to keep your tools sharp—continually vetting them to ensure they’re performing to your requirements.
  • Accountability – Without accountability, there is no motivation to follow processes… and without processes, critical data security activities simply don’t get done. The commitment to data security must come from the top down. Further, it’s imperative to ensure that each activity is clearly designated as a priority for a specific person or group.
  • Reporting – Without a doubt, reporting is the best way for you to keep the pulse on the ongoing success of your data security program. Without tracking and analyzing related metrics, how will you know if your efforts are successful? In addition, reporting can help create visibility into areas of improvement that will guide the continual evolution of your program.
  • Continual Evolution – Hackers are finding new ways to breach networks every day. If you’re not evolving your data security program at the same pace, you’re already behind. Never stop researching new and innovative technologies and tactics to add to your toolkit. Continually revisit your processes to ensure they’re as efficient as possible and explore new ways to push your security to the next level through penetration testing and auditing.

While it’s true that there is no definitively fail-safe program for ensuring the security of your data, if you’re continually revisiting these six crucial components of a holistic program, you’re headed in the right direction. Every precaution you take is a step towards preventing your company from being the next big data breach headline. The time to take action is now.

MSH is an industry-leading talent solutions firm, providing strategic talent acquisition and consulting services to organizations around the world. Established in 2011, MSH aligns people, processes, and technology with overall business objectives.

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