Pragmatic Security: Evolving your Company's Security Program

Regi Publico
Regi Publico is a full-time writer who is also an artist for fun. She takes pride in her towering collection of books and loves reading about anything under the sun. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge through every article that she writes.

Businesses handle a large amount of sensitive data — not just relating to their own companies, but data that involves your customers’ personal information, as well. Data security is crucial and should not be disregarded whether you’re leading a relatively new startup or an established business in order to prevent security breaches.

SEE ALSO: The six data protection principles

Any business that needs to protect sensitive data must prioritize data security. Data breaches can cost an organization a lot in terms of lost profits, fines, lawsuits, business interruption, and, perhaps worst of all, the loss of trust from clients and business partners. But protecting all of that data presents a significant challenge. It's simple to forget that even seemingly insignificant adjustments can have a significant effect. This is why implementing pragmatic startup security early on in your business is one of the things you should really consider, especially if you want to safeguard your business from unforeseen dangers. Before you begin planning out your company’s security program, however, it’s important to understand what pragmatic security actually means.

What is pragmatic security?

As the name implies, pragmatic security deals with security threats by assessing the most appropriate course of action based on each risk your company faces. Pragmatic security also requires you to remain constantly vigilant, so you can respond to unexpected data breaches in a swift manner. This manner of securing your company’s data processes and private data is ideal in today’s day and age where cyber threats are ever-present and constantly evolving.

How can you implement a pragmatic approach in your security program?

Any business that needs to protect sensitive data must prioritize data security. However, the task of protecting all that data can be a great challenge, and it's simple to forget that even relatively minor adjustments can have a significant effect. By focusing on the areas with the highest risk that can be resolved with the least amount of work, you can better implement a pragmatic approach to data security. Here are a few ways you can implement this system in your business operations and strengthen your security measures.

Assess the risks

Performing an information security risk assessment is an essential step in guiding your cyber security decisions. You risk wasting time, effort, and resources if you don't analyze the potential risks your company can face to guide your cyber security decisions. Implementing defenses against occurrences that are unlikely to happen or won't have an impact on your business is of little use. Typically, a risk calculation and appraisal are done, then controls are chosen to address the risks that have been discovered. It is essential to regularly monitor and evaluate the risk environment in order to spot any changes in the organization's context and to maintain track of the entire risk management process.

Evaluating the numerous information assets that might be impacted by a cyber attack, such as your technology, systems, equipment, client information, and intellectual property, is a typical step in the risk assessment process. Identifying the numerous risks that might have an impact on such assets comes next. Before deciding on the controls needed to address the risks that have been identified, a risk calculation and appraisal are typically conducted. To keep track of any changes to the business environment and to keep an overview of the entire risk management process, it is crucial to continuously monitor and assess the risk environment.

Follow security standards strictly

This step seems like an obvious choice, however, you’d be surprised by the number of businesses that are willing to cut corners where they can in their security protocols. Although some options may seem like a better choice due to issues like time restrictions and budget constraints, security is one aspect of your business where you should give your all at all times. Compliance guidelines are implemented to make sure businesses can adhere to a standard set of rules that determine what security measures are absolutely necessary to implement.

Depending on your company’s field of expertise, the aforementioned guidelines can vary. For example, medical-related businesses will have to follow standards that uphold privacy between patients and medical experts. Other necessary services that cater to public service, meanwhile, will have to follow similar rules that are enforced to make sure customers receive the service they pay for.

Learn from experience

While you may be doing your best to minimize the risk of security threats, it’s still possible for your business to run into a few bumps along the way. The best thing to do is simply acknowledge these events and learn from them. First, make sure to assess what caused the issue and how it happened. It’s important to look at even minor details to properly determine the actual root cause. Speak with whoever noticed the issue first to get a better idea of what went wrong and what your security systems may have missed.

Once you have a better idea of what occurred, you can then list down what you learned from the security scare and what you can do to continue improving your protocols. Make sure to address issues specifically and avoid providing blanket solutions that don’t directly address what happened in the first place. The objective is to avoid blind spots, and if any are found, the following expenditure should be made to solve them.

In addition to the previously discussed processes, there are a few other steps you can take to further take your company’s security program to the next level. Listed below are just some simple examples of what you can do to enforce security in your business.

1. Encrypt your platforms and devices

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to minimize the risks of cyber threats is by encrypting all data and communications within your business. This helps minimize the occurrences of data leaks and also prevents issues like this from happening to begin with. Data encryption is a standard solution to safeguard sensitive information — such as client data and confidential business processes — but you must be aware of which files are important to encrypt and how to use them properly. This applies to both your company’s own platforms and any third-party software or tools you make use of.

It’s actually quite easy to implement this when you have an in-house team dedicated to maintaining your various software and platforms, however, it can get quite tricky when you have to source these from elsewhere. This is why it’s crucial to also look into the encryption methods of each of your third-party partners and how strong their own security systems are.

2. Always keep back-ups

When it comes to cyber security, it’s always good to have backup files in case a security threat or failsafe causes you to lose certain data. It’s also good to keep back-ups of these back-ups, as well. Ideally, you should have at least three saved versions of any important files. These back-ups should be saved in different places, as well, to prevent them from getting wiped out all at once. You can opt to save one version on a company device, another on a cloud platform, and the final one on a hard drive or external disk.

In relation to this, it’s also a good idea to update your backups regularly, as well. This makes sure that data remains up-to-date, so you don’t lose all the progress you’ve made while working on a file, as well.

3. Constantly check your security procedures

Ensuring your company’s security program isn’t a one-and-done deal; this is a process that requires constant vigilance. It’s important to conduct random audits of your security processes so that you can make sure everything is running smoothly, even when you’re not directly monitoring these procedures.

This also allows you to keep an eye on which areas of your security program need improvement or aren’t being given much attention. You can opt to hire a third-party partner to check on these procedures or conduct the audits yourself.

4. Prepare security procedures for every possible situation

It’s always good to think ahead and be prepared for a number of different scenarios when establishing a decent security program. This includes everything from building a security plan for corporate events to creating protocols in case of a shortage of staff in charge of monitoring your security detail. This makes sure that all procedures are handled properly and security remains airtight, even in the midst of a sudden event.

5. Encourage the use of stronger passwords

While you can’t implement passwords for employees yourself, it’s still important to advocate that they use more complex passwords for their devices and accounts. It’s best not to make use of the same passwords for different accounts or devices since this makes it easier for hackers to figure out your login credentials. Ask your employees to avoid using easy-to-access information, such as birthdates and family names, in their passwords, as well. It’s also best to enforce reminders that will prompt your workers to change their passwords every once in a while and not to write down their login credentials in an obvious location.

6. Properly dispose of unnecessary files

Sensitive information is a crucial component of the operations of many businesses, particularly those in the healthcare, finance, public sector, and education. Having information disposal procedures in place helps stop outdated data from being lost or stolen later on. It will be much easier to prevent individuals from storing older or unimportant data if you have a procedure in place for destroying, deleting, or otherwise altering it to make it unreadable.

7. Make sure your employees know what to do

Having an effective data protection strategy is one thing; another is ensuring that every employee in your firm really abides by it. In addition to lowering the risks, training all members on the importance of security and how they may contribute would speed up the response time in the event of a breach. You could encourage personnel to follow these standards by offering frequent training sessions and current policy materials. You can set up programs to help educate your workers on cyber security so that everyone can fully understand its importance in your business operations.

8. Minimize who has access to sensitive data

You may not be completely immune to human mistakes, even with thorough employee training. In actuality, human error is to blame for the majority of violations and compliance failures. It's unlikely to totally eliminate compliance concerns if there is a human aspect present, whether your staff is reckless or just ignorant of required processes. You can put up the effort to train your team and ensure that they are reliable, but if you want to reduce the likelihood of errors, you must go much further. A good strategy to strengthen your security program is to restrict employee access to data. Which employees on your team actually require access to sensitive information, and who oversees that access? Your employees should only have access to the information they absolutely need to do their duties.

To wrap it all up

Strong cybersecurity measures are becoming more and more necessary as the world gets more digital. All sizes of businesses need to be aware of the hazards and take precautions to safeguard their clients and themselves. These firms' reliance on technology and the internet to function exposes them to a variety of threats, including cyberattacks. Companies need cybersecurity because it helps shield them from these attacks and the damage that results from them. Cybersecurity may assist businesses in safeguarding their data, reputation, and financial position.

Implementing a pragmatic approach in your security protocols can seem like a tedious and complicated process, but it’s definitely worth all the work in the end. This allows you to gain a better understanding of your security program and continue evolving it to meet the needs of your clients, as well as keep up with constant improvements in tech that could potentially leave your company’s data vulnerable to attacks. One of the elements that might directly help the expansion of your firm is high-security standards. Failing to handle possible risks to your assets and data can have disastrous repercussions and result in business collapse.


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