How to Create a Data Security Policy to Protect Business Information?

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    Data security is a growing concern for organizations of all sizes as sophisticated cyber attacks continue to increase yearly. According to Mckinsey & Company, companies will spend over $101.5 billion on security by 2025.

    However, cybercriminals continue to compromise corporate data and systems. A data security policy, sometimes known as a cyber-protection policy, is indispensable and creates a firewall for any business to protect sensitive data responsibly and earn trust. Creating general data protection regulations helps prevent data leaks and access to data, reducing the risk of financial losses.

    Data Security Policy
    Creating a Data Security Policy

    What is Data Security Policy?

    A data security policy is essential to protecting sensitive business data. It outlines the procedures and strategies that an organization will employ to protect its confidential information from unauthorized access, malicious software, and accidental destruction. An Information protection policy serves as a guide to ensure that stakeholder understands their responsibilities when working with critical data.

    When creating data security guidelines, it is essential to consider several factors, such as data storage types and regulatory policy requirements. That is related to the storage and handling of such data, user data access rights and privileges, incident reporting protocols, and acceptable use policies.

    The policy should also include comprehensive measures for physical security, including locks on servers or cabinets where sensitive data is located. Finally, IT professionals should regularly assess policy implementation to ensure that all policy components are met effectively and efficiently.

    Why is Data Security so Difficult?

    Data protection is a critical aspect of information security policies, yet it is often overlooked due to the complexity of managing and protecting their data. As data leaks become increasingly common, companies must realize that information protection is no longer optional; businesses must ensure they are not vulnerable to malicious attacks.

    Today’s organizations face several challenges when it comes to information protection. The sheer volume of data creates a difficult task in sorting through and ensuring all sensitive information remains secure.

    We’ve gathered the facts and stats so IT admins will understand the challenges they face in protecting critical data, making it even more difficult.

    • The total amount of data created, captured, copied, and consumed globally reached 64.2 zettabytes in 2020. The number is projected to reach 180 zettabytes by 2025. Mobile platforms, remote work, and other digitalization needs depend on high-speed access to large data sets, aggravating the chances of leaks.
    • Hacking has become a $300 billion dollar industry and is operated like an organized business with P&L budgets and hierarchies. Hackers use AI, machine learning, and other technologies to execute sophisticated data spills.
    • Based on Cisco’s Kenna Security report, nearly 20,130 software vulnerabilities were reported in 2021 – that’s 55 vulnerabilities a day. The rate of vulnerabilities is significant, making it difficult for IT teams to fix all the vulnerabilities.
    • Humans, by far, have been the weakest link in an organization’s security defenses. 82% of security breaches involved human error and misuse of privilege, and social engineering attacks. According to the latest data leaks report by IBM Ponemon Institute, the cost of information leakage due to accidental customer data loss or lost devices costs businesses nearly $4.11 million.
    • Data security standards, laws, and regulations tend to catch up with organizational and technological changes.

    Cost of Data Breaches

    A breach lifecycle is the time between a data leak and its containment. In 2021, the average leak lifecycle was 287 days–212 days to identify the leak and 75 days to contain it. The more time it takes to identify and contain a spill, the costlier it gets.

    According to research by IBM, the top most expensive information leaks were:

    • Business email compromise – $5.1 million
    • Phishing – $4.65 million
    • Malicious insiders – $4.61 million
    • Social engineering criminal attacks – $4.47 million
    • Vulnerabilities in third-party software – $4.33 million

    The cost is further amplified by the increase in the remote work model. 5% of the information leakage last year involved remote workers, with the average leak cost increasing by $1.07 million when remote workers are involved.

    The remote work model has now become a part of the new normal. Organizations should address these data security risks in a way that improves security regardless of the location or device employees work on.

    6 Key Elements to Include in an Effective Data Security Policy and Best Practices

    Developing comprehensive information protection policies is essential to prevent intentional or unintentional leaks created by employee use of hardware and software. The complexity of the business and the industry in which it operates influence information policies.

    However, a few key components form the basis of feasible data security measures that will help to protect data.

    1. Acceptable Use

    The acceptable use policy defines proper and improper behavior when users unauthorized access company network security resources. For example, an employee wishes to download software with proper multi-factor authentication from the internet to be more efficient at work.

    However, downloading unverified software from a questionable website could install malicious software. Using the company’s resources for personal business is also inappropriate and introduces risk.

    2. Establish Password Management

    A password policy should be established for all employees and temporary workers accessing corporate resources. To combat the dangers of password accessibility, establish a password policy based on job functions and data security requirements.

    It should be scheduled to be changed regularly and not repeated in succession. Passwords can be backup securely but should never be shared.

    3. Manage Email Usage 

    The costliest leaks associated with data occur due to employee misuse of business email. It often results in the loss or theft of enterprise data or unintentionally downloading malware and other malicious software. Implementing an SPF checker can enhance email security measures in preventing such risks.

    Clear standards should be established regarding email usage, message content, data encryption, and file data retention to thwart phishing and other email-based attack vectors. To further strengthen email security, implement an email verifier to authenticate email addresses and ensure that only valid and trusted recipients receive sensitive information.

    4. Govern Internet Usage

    Employee misuse of the internet at work can create awkward (or even illegal) situations. However, defining a clear internet use policy can limit the websites they visit. Unrestricted access to the internet can tempt employees to spend time on non-work-related activities.

    Companies may want employees to be productive, but security concerns should dictate how internet GDPR guidelines are formulated. For instance, downloading files from a file-sharing website can contain malware or expose a company to liability if the downloaded material is copyrighted.

    5. Govern Social Networking

    Social media websites have become a goldmine for hackers, with easy access controls to sensitive company data and personal information. This allows bad actors to carry out social engineering attacks.

    A strong social media policy and active governance can ensure employees communicate within the organization’s data parameters set by the company and follow data privacy policy best practices.

    6. Security Incident Reporting

    The information protection policy should address incident response and report. An audit procedure should be in place for employees and contract workers to report malicious malware data sources imported into the system.

    The policy should also specify how the information leak is handled and security control by whom, how security incidents should be analyzed, and learnings shared to prevent future incidents.

    MDM Can Help Enforce Data Security Policies

    Cloud-based Mobile device management is an important technology element to keep in mind when developing or updating data protection standards. MDM can enforce the aforementioned people-side of information protection policy as well as manage company-owned and personal (BYOD) devices.

    Threat Mitigation using MDM
    Theft and LossRemote Data Wipe: The MDM feature allows IT security teams to remotely lock a device and delete data for information security from comprising when a remote device is lost or stolen.
    MalwareAllow only approved apps: Irrespective of a company’s mobility (BYOD, COBO, COPE) strategy, businesses can specify a list of approved apps and leverage MDM to block or disable unapproved apps to ensure that data compliance and safety. Also, create a list of allowed websites that users can visit on their work devices. Schedule automatic OS updates on devices to protect against vulnerabilities.
    Setup VPN: Configuring virtual private networks to hide their internet protocol (IP) address and browse the internet with an encrypted connection.
    Weak PasswordRemotely configure password settings–length, complexity, periodic updates–using MDM solution to push policies directly to devices.
    Email breachConditional Email Access: It is a comprehensive data security practice that restricts user access to corporate inboxes. In the simplest form, this policy follows an if-then statement. For example, if a user device, especially a BYOD, is not enrolled then the user will not have access to its mailbox.
    Threat Mitigation Using MDM

    Wrapping Up

    Each new piece of technology brings with it the risk of a data security violation. Enterprises must develop data security policies and procedure templates to protect all data types and reduce risk exposure, particularly for digital devices. Companies can utilize device management to enforce data security regulations and reduce problems caused by employee use of software and devices.

    Rajnil Thakur
    Rajnil Thakur
    Rajnil is a Senior Content Writer at Scalefusion. He’s been a B2B marketer for over 8 years and applies the power of content marketing to simplify complex technology and business ideas.

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