How to develop an enterprise data security strategy

What is enterprise data security?

Enterprise data refers to any information shared among multiple users in an organization. Because enterprises are best defined as companies with multiple levels, locations, and departments that work collaboratively to support shared business goals and objectives, it’s safe to say that within an enterprise, sensitive data is constantly flowing across different departments, devices, and geographical locations. The more users with access to important data or locations for that data to exist, the higher the risk of a breach or legal compliance violation. Thus, enterprise data security is essential.

Because enterprises are so complex, their data security strategies must be as well. They often consist of creating data policies, education and training, auditing, and implementing the right data privacy management tools that can protect sensitive information across all repositories within an enterprise, from the cloud to employees’ endpoint devices and anywhere else it might be residing in an organization’s network.

Here, we explain the essentials you need to become familiar with to develop an effective enterprise data security strategy that not only protects your organization, but also maximizes the value of your security budget dollars while making the endeavor more manageable for your organization’s security team lead.

What are common shortcomings of enterprise data management?

Since there are a lot of moving pieces and factors when it comes to enterprise data, management can be cumbersome. Below are a few common challenges that organizations experience while trying to manage enterprise data.

Systems that don’t communicate with each other

Take a look at any organization and their teams are likely using multiple softwares and programs on a daily basis. Different systems are used for specialized tasks, workflows, and processes. The downside is that it can become challenging to track where important data is living or being transferred or migrated to. Specialized security tools with flexible APIs and integrations can help significantly lighten the workload here.

Without a tool that enables communication across systems, your security team may find themselves putting in unnecessary hours of work chasing down data.

Data that cannot be easily searched or traced

There are two types of data that determine the level of difficulty for locating that piece of information: structured data and unstructured data. While structured data is usually formatted in a way that’s easy to find, unstructured data is not easily interpretable with a simple search. And, unstructured data accounts for the majority of the data that an organization creates and consumes. If your security teams aren’t enabled with the right tools to help them locate unstructured data, there may be some risky blind spots within your organization’s data landscape.

Unaligned departments and teams

Having the right tools and technologies to empower your team is important, but just as important is ensuring that everyone in your organization is aligned and understands the importance of data security precautions. For starters, an organization’s security team should know who is responsible for what and who is the go-to for particular areas of data security. Employees that belong to other departments in your organization should also be aware of who to contact if they suspect something amiss.

What are the key considerations when developing an enterprise data security strategy?

Identify what you have to protect

Whether it’s for reputational or regulatory compliance reasons, you need to begin by understanding what types of data you need to protect and why. A good start is identifying what types of sensitive data your organization collects, along with determining the level of sensitivity for all of your data.

Businesses should also get familiar with compliance laws like the GDPR, GLBA and CCPA, and learn which regulations apply to them. Once your organization has a handle of what needs to be protected, you have better context as to what should be driving your enterprise data security strategy.

Determine potential risks

When developing a data security strategy, you should determine the level of potential risk your organization is subject to. You may want to ask yourself questions like:

  • Does your organization handle a high volume of sensitive data?
  • How long does your company retain that amount of sensitive data?
  • What is the level of sensitivity of data collected?
  • Are the types of data your organization collects covered under any regulatory compliance laws?

Get familiar with the threat landscape

Knowledge is power, and it’s to the benefit of your organization to stay up to date with what’s happening with other businesses in your industry. Have any competitors been affected by breaches? If so, use that as a learning opportunity to assess what your organization could do to prevent something similar from happening. Knowing what your team should be prepared for is key in developing an effective strategy.

Why data discovery is essential to an enterprise data security strategy

With one of the biggest shortcomings of enterprise data management being sensitive data blind spots, it should come as no surprise that sensitive data discovery is crucial to developing a strategy that protects your organization. If you do not have a full view of all of the data your organization creates and processes, then it’s not possible to properly protect that information.

On the other hand, some organizations may invest large sums for top-of-the-line secure storage and protection tools to cover all of their data. That may not always be the best route, as not all types of data require the same level of protection. By first discovering all of the sensitive data your company has acquired and then classifying that information based on its level of sensitivity, you can better budget and allocate dollars where they are truly needed.

Five steps to developing an enterprise data security strategy

If your organization is ready to improve its enterprise data security, these five steps will help you structure a strategy that works for your company’s unique needs.<?p>

1. Start by understanding the scope of your organization’s data

As mentioned above, sensitive data discovery is essential to any enterprise data security strategy. So much so that it is the first step you should take. Once your organization understands the types of data you are working with, you can classify that data and have organized information to build on.

While data discovery and classification may seem like a time-consuming task, Spirion sensitive data discovery tools help cut down on hours spent by your security teams. With data mining capabilities that use contextual search technology, you can leave the searching and automated classification of difficult-to-find unstructured data on auto-pilot. This cuts down your security teams’ workload drastically, and enables them to make better decisions faster.

2. Perform an audit to assess your current state of data security

Now that you know what types of sensitive data lives within your organization, perform an audit to assess your current data security strategy’s strengths and weaknesses. Along with determining what types of secure storage platforms or cybersecurity software tools are needed, you should also evaluate what processes could be made more efficient or automated.

After you have your audit findings pulled together, you can set a realistic timeline from there that specifies the amount of time spent planning, setting up, training, and then, finally, executing data security measures.

3. Define your organization’s data security policy

This will be the framework that your security team operates by. This policy should create accountability within your security team and streamline the flow of information and tasks. Something to consider when defining your organization’s policy is ensuring that it aligns with your company’s overall business goals. For example, if your goal is to work efficiently, then you should employ tools and processes that help you move quickly.

4. Provide training for your employees

It’s crucial to have cross-team alignment, where everyone across your organization understands what is going on and why. An enterprise data security policy should be easy to understand by all departments in your company — not just the IT department. While a deep understanding of data security isn’t necessary for all members of an organization, your employees should confidently understand what types of information are considered confidential, the potential risks of leaks or breaches, and simple ways to prevent data loss from happening. A refresher training quarterly or annually can go a long way. When everyone in your organization has a security- and privacy-forward mentality, you proactively mitigate potential risks.

5. Evaluate your organization’s technology stack

Based on your audit, your team probably has gathered some findings and may want to think about how your technology stack could be improved. Are you getting the most out of your security investments? And are those tools actually helping your security teams, or simply giving them more work?

Your organization can simplify your security team’s workflow with Spirion, which automates tedious tasks with efficiency and leading-edge accuracy. In addition to continuously monitoring your organization’s sensitive data and automating workflows, like classification and remediation processes, there are also built-in features that help take the headache out of compliance laws like GDPR and CCPA.

To see how Spirion works, you can watch a demo.