Build A Strong Data Protection Strategy In 10 Steps


Your data security is vital to the overall well-being of your business. Ready to get started?

With digital adoption driving the strategy of many organisations, data, today, is the centre of business. The increased user-generated data and the sheer volume and detail of enterprise data require more attention to protecting it.

As the number of devices to monitor and protect expands, data protection becomes more intricate. While data protection regulations ensure the security of individuals’ data and regulate the collection, usage, transfer, and disclosure of the said data, every organisation must take extra measures to build an adequate data protection program while keeping data usable for business purposes without trading customer privacy.

Here are ten steps that organisations can take to increase data security, reduce risk and respond quickly to threats if the worst does happen.

Determine and identify data: When sensitive data is stolen or exposed, it not just damages an organisations’ reputation and leads to substantial financial losses, it can harm the data owner. So, the first step is to determine which information your organisation collects is sensitive. That data needs to be protected and the legal regulations that cover it.

Figure out data lifecycle: Protecting sensitive and business-critical data most effectively, need an understanding of the data lifecycle such as creating, storing, using, sharing, and archiving. Knowing the stage of each piece of data will determine the policies and tools to be implemented to protect it at each point of its lifecycle.

Data lifecycle management secures and protects data over its full use to the business. It evolves with the document from the point it’s created to the moment it’s disposed of. It analyses, investigates, and interrogates the data and looks for value by identifying where sensitive and low-value data are.

Eliminate redundant data: Most systems are in silos, and redundancies start from there, creating their version of common enterprise data, such as customer data, order data, and invoice data. As a result, most enterprises have security vulnerabilities. It is essential to build and ensure an information disposal mechanism to prevent stale data from being forgotten or a system for shredding, erasing, or modifying redundant data, so it is not stashed away. Regulations require data to be disposed of in a timely and secure manner.

Compliance, compliance, compliance: Data compliance influences the policies and tools an organisation implements to protect data. Storage practises, for example, must include encryption and firewalls to comply with data privacy regulations. Compliance also calls for access controls and audit logs to trace data use.

But your data’s security isn’t guaranteed just because you comply with GDPR rules. It’s crucial organisations set more-stringent standards for data privacy and protection than the privacy laws require.

Pay attention to insider threats, not just firewalls: In many organisations, the focus is on securing the walls around data, as a big chunk of the security budget is spent on firewall technology. However, customers, suppliers, and employees can misuse sensitive data. Implementing strong passwords and ensuring your computer is properly patched and updated is the first step to strengthening your security.

Encryption of devices: Perhaps the most apparent impact of the pandemic on the workforce is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely, as more and more people work on mobile or personal devices. To ensure that these devices are trustworthy, organisations must store all data in an encrypted format and see to it that it remains encrypted during migrations.

Back-up data regularly: Back-up is crucial for data protection. A regular data backup —preferably weekly — saves your important files from data loss situations. With secure back-ups in place, you can survive even a complete ransomware lockdown and everyday events such as system crashes and hard drive corruption and failure. A regular backup can get back up to 100 per cent of files without much effort and saves you a significant amount of resources that you would otherwise need to spend on restoring the lost data.

Take inventory: Conduct data inventory to understand the data you store, identify any gaps or risks and mitigate these risks. Data inventory ensures that you know the value of your organisation’s information resources and metadata, and comprehending what information your organisation gathers prompts effectiveness and builds responsibility. It additionally decreases vulnerability by enabling a security plan.

Automate: It’s not possible to have an adequate data protection program without automation software on your side. Manual classification can lead to inconsistent labelling and overlooking the critical context of a piece of data, with the risk of leaving it misclassified and vulnerable. Even tasks such as backing up data and purging it following regulatory requirements risk improper execution when handled manually. Automation tools can help it run efficiently and accurately, enabling organisations to gain critical data visibility across clouds and networks.

Build security mindset: Organisation must educate all employees, even those not directly involved with handling sensitive data, about the data security responsibilities. Everyone in the organisation should understand that their actions can directly affect its success and reputation. If all are involved in security awareness, more and more employees will call out improper handling of sensitive data and prevent sharing it.

To build an effective data protection strategy, an organisation must include all information and data on what makes it competitive or where there is a possibility of data loss. Take special care of sensitive data. It then can develop, implement and continuously test the effectiveness of strategies that provide the required protection.

*Want to know more about topics like this from industry thought leaders? The second edition of Velocity, the Middle East’s largest summit focussed on data, analytics and strategy, will deliberate on how and why data-informed decisions are critical for organisations. The event will be held on May 17-18, 2022, in Dubai, UAE. Click here to register

If you liked reading this, you might like our other stories

Small Is The New Big
Hybrid Cloud Offers Better Data Opportunities for Marketers