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September 4, 2023

Data Security and Compliance Best Practices

They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. To understand just how essential data security and privacy compliance are, picture your business as a linked chain, with each link representing a crucial element in its operations. Strengthening each link with robust security measures prevents any single weak point from jeopardizing the entire chain. Compliance is akin to ensuring each link fits seamlessly into the broader chain design, keeping it stable and unbreakable.

It makes no difference if a company is big or small, it’s no longer business as usual for data security and compliance. As data threats and challenges continually challenge the status quo, organizations that adapt their data security compliance standards to a rapidly evolving landscape will be the ones to survive and thrive, ensuring their data strategies are as resilient as the threats they face.

Data Governance Security and Compliance

Data governance, security, and compliance intertwine to help organizations manage and protect their data:

  1. Regulation alignment. Adherence to industry regulations, legal requirements, and data protection laws is key to meeting data compliance laws. Data governance ensures that data-related policies and procedures meet these obligations. Data security measures enforce the policies and safeguard data according to regulations.
  2. Policy development and enforcement. Data governance policies typically include guidelines for data security and privacy. Data security measures like access control, encryption, and authentication then enforce these policies and ensure data’s managed in a compliant manner.
  3. Data classification and handling. Data governance classifies data based on sensitivity and value. Security practices align with these classifications to ensure data is adequately protected according to compliance requirements.
  4. Access control and authorization. Data governance specifies who has access to data and under what conditions. Compliance policies mandate strict control over data access, and data security measures like ABAC, RBAC, and data masking enforce the policies and maintain compliance.
  5. Data retention and disposal. Compliance regulations typically specify how long a business must retain data and how it should dispose of it. Data governance sets out retention and disposal policies, and data security ensures those policies are met, preventing unauthorized access to out-of-date information.
  6. Auditing and monitoring. Data governance and compliance include auditing and monitoring activities. A data security program tracks, logs, and analyzes data access and usage so a business can quickly demonstrate compliance and identify deviations.
  7. Risk management. Data governance assesses and manages data-related risks while compliance focuses on mitigating any legal or regulatory violations. At the same time, data security identifies and reduces risks with protective measures that prevent unauthorized access, etc.
  8. Reporting and documentation. Data compliance generally requires detailed data documentation and reporting. Data governance designs the framework for maintaining accurate records, while data security ensures the records are securely stored and accessible only to authorized users.

When combined, data governance, compliance, and security create a holistic approach that helps businesses preserve data integrity, protect sensitive information, and meet regulatory requirements.

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Data Security and Compliance Best Practices

Maintaining the status quo does not protect data. For instance, the global average data breach cost in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, a 15% increase over three years. So, while it’s tempting to stick with what you’ve done in the past, the reality is that current data threats can cost you big in terms of operating costs and security risks.

Today’s internal compliance teams face untold challenges in meeting data security’s changing landscape. These five data security and compliance best practices are a good start when adopting and implementing a program that protects sensitive data, maintains customer trust, and avoids legal, financial, and reputational repercussions.

Implement Strong Access Controls

Not everyone needs access to every piece of information within your organization. Access controls ensure that only authorized users can access sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access and data breaches. Fine-grained, policy-based, and purpose-based access controls reduce data exposure risk while still allowing businesses to get the most out of their data.

Encrypt Data

Encryption transforms data into unreadable and unusable formats that can only be decrypted with appropriate keys, protecting it at rest, in transit, and in use. The encrypted data remains confidential even if intercepted by unauthorized parties. For instance, when a bank customer uses an online platform to transfer funds from one account to another, encryption protects personal information throughout the transaction, from account number to transfer amount, transaction completion, and record storage.

Regularly Update and Patch Systems

Outdated software and systems frequently have vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit. A patch management program that includes routine software updates and system patches helps address known security vulnerabilities, defending sensitive data against potential attacks.

Conduct Employee Training and Awareness

Many security breaches occur due to human error. Educating employees on the proper use of technology resources, on-site and off, ensures they thoroughly understand your organization’s data security policies and procedures. By fostering a culture of security awareness, you empower your teams to recognize and respond appropriately to potential risks, reducing the likelihood of human errors that facilitate breaches.

Carry Out Regular Security Audits and Assessments

Security audits and assessments help businesses proactively detect and address security weaknesses before bad actors can exploit them. Periodic audits also demonstrate a company’s commitment to compliance and due diligence, which is critical to maintaining trust.

Adopting and implementing these and other security and compliance best practices specific to your industry allows you to:

  • Protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, or misuse.
  • Mitigate legal and financial risks due to non-compliance with data protection regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA.
  • Maintain customer trust and avoid reputational damage. By implementing robust security measures, your organization shows it prioritizes protecting customer data.
  • Prevent disruptions that can result in expensive downtime, a drop in productivity, and financial losses.
  • Strengthen competitive advantage, helping you attract customers who place a high value on their sensitive information’s protection.

What Comes Next?

While some attacks only cost businesses a few hundred or thousand dollars, others have a devastating impact that many companies never recover from. Organizations that extensively use AI-powered data governance save, on average, USD 1.76 million compared to those that don’t.

Just as a chameleon changes colors to adapt to current conditions, businesses must devise new data security and compliance strategies that accommodate emerging cyber risks and regulatory demands. Embracing innovative technologies, staying updated on emerging security threats, and cultivating a culture of attentiveness, can help your organization ensure its data security and compliance practices anticipate and prevent cyberattacks while detecting and minimizing any risks that do materialize.

At Velotix, we believe advanced data security and compliance technologies, including AI-driven automation, are the path toward better cybersecurity resilience. By implementing proactive measures and best practices, your business can create a formidable defense against modern cyber threats. And as threats evolve, an AI-based dynamic data access governance platform can help you prevent the disclosure of sensitive information while still allowing for the sharing and using of data to support organizational goals and initiatives.

Security awareness training, a data-centric security strategy, access controls, and a robust patch management strategy are just a few of the ways your organization can advance its data security. Is your business protected as well as it could—and should—be?

Contact us today to learn more or book a Velotix demo.