Security Program Development

Security Program Explained

It doesn’t matter if your organization is large or small: it’s important to have a strategy to keep your information secure. Today, the risk of security incidents and breaches from hackers, thieves, and internal threats is higher than ever before. Breaches affect large numbers of financial organizations, healthcare organizations, and public sector entities, but any organization can be a target.

What Kind of Data Should Be Protected?

triangle displaying information security confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the essential data

Having an information security program will ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the essential data that your organization needs to run every day.

Some organizations mistakenly believe that their data isn’t worth protecting, particularly if they aren’t in an industry whose data management is regulated by the government.

Apart from data such as customer credit card data (which is heavily regulated), your organization likely has a wealth of information that would make an attractive target for attackers:

  • Your organization’s financial records could be at risk of being lost or stolen. In addition to stealing key information, hackers will sometimes manipulate data and toy with its integrity.
  • Confidential customer information could also be at risk for theft, which is not only an inconvenience for you but a breach of the trust your customers have placed in you.
  • Confidential customer information could also be at risk for theft, which is not only an inconvenience for you but a breach of the trust your customers have placed in you.

No matter the size of your organization or what type of data is at risk, it’s your responsibility to mitigate the risk of having it lost, altered, or stolen – as well as developing a plan of action should the worst occur.

What Does a Security Program Look Like?

You may have heard the words “cyber security program” and “information security program” tossed around. There is no difference between the two; they’re simply two different terms for the same necessary program. No matter what it’s called, here are the necessary components of a comprehensive information security program.

  1. Chief Information Security Officer

One of the key components of a security program is an experienced and knowledgeable leader. A Chief Information Security Officer, or CISO, will help develop your security program, execute it, as well as report to organizational leadership about its ongoing status.

  1. Assessing the Risks

Risk assessment is about more than scanning the perimeter for outside or future risks. It also includes looking internally and examining current systems and procedures to identify how information may currently be at risk.

What kind of risks might you discover during the assessment process?

  • Information can be put at risk as it’s transmitted within the organization, to employees, or between the organization and third parties such as contractors and vendors.
  • Data can be stolen by outside actors, as well as accessed by unauthorized individuals within the organization.
  • Data is at risk of physical theft or damage. Perhaps your staff regularly travels with laptops that aren’t password-protected or maybe your organization’s data servers are located in a basement that’s at risk of flooding. Your data could also be corrupted, either through someone intentionally modifying it or due to an accident.
  1. Putting Policies and Procedures in Place

Once the risks have been properly assessed, the CISO’s responsibilities are threefold. First, they must communicate with organizational management to explain the risks and get everyone on board with a comprehensive information security program.

Next, they must work with the IT team to develop this program. Finally, they must recognize that policies aren’t enough: employees must be trained to understand and implement the necessary procedures to ensure that all data is thoroughly protected.

What kind of procedures might be a part of your security program? Every aspect will be fine-tuned towards protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your data. Your program may include factors such as:

  • Policies regarding the security of accounts and passwords. The AAA process (authentication, authorization, and accounting) sets a clear framework for managing information security.
  • Protecting documents and data from the threat of physical theft, damage, or loss.
  • Protection against viruses for e-mail, file data, and web content.
  • A clear incident response procedure that lays out how the organization will respond if and when a threat, incident, or breach is identified.
  1. Staying Compliant with Regulations

Depending on what industry you’re in, your organization may be required to stay compliant with certain regulatory standards around data security. If you’re a healthcare organization, for example, HIPAA standards will apply to you in order to govern patient privacy. PCI regulations apply to any organization that accepts credit card payments. Meanwhile, Sarbanes-Oxley governs corporate financial data. Staying compliant will keep your data protected, as well as keep your organization operating within the letter of the law.

  1. Documenting Your Security Program

As part of staying compliant with these regulations, you’ll need to thoroughly document your organization’s security program. Documentation will also help lay out the mission of your program, lay out its policies, standards, and guidelines, as well as set benchmarks and provide evidence of whether or not they are being met.

  1. Continued Risk Management

An information security program isn’t set-it-and-forget-it. Your CISO and team must continuously monitor for new risks that haven’t been addressed by the current program, as well as ensuring that all procedures are being followed. As part of this, you must also constantly audit and fine-tune your security program to stay ahead of potential risks.

Is Your Organization Protected?

Every passing day brings a whole host of threats to your data, codes, designs, client information, and financial records. Because breaches can come from within and without and the nature of the threats is constantly changing, it takes specialized knowledge to identify them and protect against them. Can you rest assured that your organization is protected?

An Information Security Program can be tailored to any size or type of organization. To get more information about security programs or to take the steps necessary to begin creating one, contact the team of experts at CISOSHARE.

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