Data Security Controls: Primary Objective

Data Security Controls Primary Objective

Information security management has grown increasingly complex over the years. Nowadays, businesses need to implement data classification processes, protection protocols, change management, and many other measures as part of their information security management strategy.

The growing complexity of security management has resulted in many businesses blindly following compliance. You will find that companies are more concerned about meeting all their compliance guidelines without understanding how these guidelines help their systems, networks, and platforms to remain secure.

Data security controls are put in place to ensure that your business places enough emphasis on data security. It’s not just about meeting various compliance guidelines; it’s also about being prepared and protected against cyber-attacks.

» Understanding Data Security Controls

Data security controls are processes that safeguard against sensitive information being compromised. These controls are essentially a countermeasure that prevents any unauthorized data access- while also detecting, mitigating, and avoiding various risks that can affect computer systems (including software, information, and networks).

» Types of data security controls

As systems and processes aimed at preventing data risk in your organization, data security controls play an essential role in your overall cybersecurity plan. Many different types of data security controls are used regularly. Each type of control is aimed at securing different aspects of data usage to mitigate overall risks.

Here are eight types of data security controls that are useful for your organization.

1. Operational Security controls

Operational security controls are essential controls put in place to monitor daily operations and to carry out the objectives of your overall risk management program.

Operational controls include the following best practices:

Developing a plan for restricting network access
Change management
Creating segregated duties for various employees
Implementing automated solutions to replace mundane tasks for employees
Implementing a disaster recovery plan

2. Technical security controls

It’s also vital for your organization to implement controls that focus on both hardware and software. Such controls are referred to as technical security controls, and they’re primarily aimed at limiting access. They also limit how various systems are used within a specific network.

Best practices for technical security controls include:

Using data encryption
Requiring network authentications
Developing and maintaining access control lists
Having an auditing software in place for ensuring file integrity

3. Administrative controls

Administrative controls are the ones that form the basis of day-to-day operations. They often arise from specific regulations that have been put in place or standards that have been established for your organization.

Best practices for administrative controls include the following:

Having specific policies in place that govern information security policies
Implementing vendor risk management programs
Having disaster recovery procedures and business continuity policies in place

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4. Preventative controls

They say prevention is better than cure- and the same holds true when it comes to data security. Preventative controls are put in place to prevent the loss of data so that you don’t have to embark on data recovery efforts after a risk has already occurred.

Best practices for preventative controls include:

Two-factor authentication
Proper identity management
Controlling access to cloud platforms
Privilege access management

5. Architectural controls

You can think of architectural controls as controls that address the overarching state of your organization’s IT framework. In other words, architectural controls create a unified approach aimed at documenting and addressing various risks pertaining to your IT environment.

Some best practices that concern architectural controls include:

Review of current information systems
Carrying out audits of internal controls
Auditing of internal controls
Implementing a continuous monitoring framework

6. Detective controls

For any business, timely detection of potential risk is vital. Detective controls help you identify any data loss or other weaknesses that may affect operations. You can think of detective controls as a warning system of an upcoming risk.

Some best practices include:

Carrying out internal audits
Keeping and reviewing usage logs
Continuous monitoring

7. Corrective controls

You may not always be able to prevent risks from occurring. In the event that a risk exists within your systems, corrective measures can be used to mitigate any damages that may arise. In particular, corrective controls are useful if detection fails to alert appropriate personnel of a present issue.

Some corrective control best practices include:

Documenting and enforcing various policies/procedures
Development of a disaster recovery program to mitigate an active threat

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8. Compensatory controls

When a security risk occurs, you may need to put in place immediate short-term measures aimed at mitigating such risk. This is where compensatory controls come into play. They are a quick fix that allows you to satisfy a security requirement- but only temporarily.

They mostly come in handy to ensure business continuity as you work towards addressing the core security risk that your business is facing.
What goes into developing an internal controls framework?

Internal controls are aimed at preventing or mitigating risks associated with data usage. A crucial part of internal controls is data security controls. Your business should aim at implementing a risk-based approach, where all internal processes are designed in response to the potential risks your company data might face. This will ensure that all risks of data access, deletion, and alteration are mitigated at all times.

Your internal controls program should incorporate all of the following steps.

1. Risk identification

Your internal controls program starts with identifying where and how potential risks can occur. This involves determining where your company stores, collects and transmits data regularly. To do this, you will need to view your current systems, software, devices, and networks that you frequently use.

2. Risk assessment

The next step is assessing the types of risk you’re likely to face. Risk assessment involves reviewing the types of data you handle, and the potential risks that each type of data can expose you to. For example, personal information and cardholder information is more likely to undergo attack and thus should be protected more thoroughly than public data.

A risk assessment also involves examining your networks, software, people, and systems to determine how various types of data can be affected.

3. Risk analysis

A risk analysis is a quantitative assessment of a specific type of risk. In other words, it determines how much impact a particular risk would have on your business. Risk analysis can be done by multiplying a potential threat by the potential effects it poses to your company.

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4. Risk tolerance

After potential risks have been analyzed, the next step is to determine your tolerance plan for that particular risk. You have several options when it comes to risk tolerance. You may decide to mitigate, refused, accept, or transfer the risk to another entity.

5. Setting controls

Setting controls are perhaps the most practical aspect of your internal controls program. The specific controls you put in place will determine your overall control environment is moving forward. Controls can also come in the form of internal firewalls, least privilege necessary, data encryption, etc.

6. Creating an audit program

External audits provide a third-party review of your current cybersecurity framework. They are important because they consider both your internal and external reviews, which gives other entities confidence in how you handle business data.

7. Continuous monitoring

Finally, your internal control framework would be incomplete without constant monitoring. Hackers are always looking for new ways of gaining access to your systems. Therefore, you need to remain one step ahead by continuously reviewing the state of your cybersecurity controls.

Data security controls are an essential part of your overall cybersecurity plan. Implementing a risk-first approach means that you’re always focused on creating a secure data environment within your business and the vendors that you work with.

However, keeping up with your overall data security plan can be challenging if you’re using spreadsheets. GRC software allows you to assign, monitor, and prioritize relevant tasks related to your data security controls. The software also makes it easier for you to manage workflows and to develop an audit trail for all internal and external audits.

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Ken Lynch

Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity's success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT. Learn more at ReciprocityLabs.com.

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