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Who is Responsible for Data Security Management and Compliance?

BY RYAN TULLY
February 21, 2024

As the role of data in all aspects of business functions continues to expand, the roles of those responsible for managing that data’s security need to be clearly defined, understood and augmented to keep up with the expansion.

What is data security management?

Data security management is a multipronged process that aims to keep a business’s sensitive information safe from cybersecurity threats. It typically involves:

Who is responsible for data security management?

Data security management is an ongoing process. Once policies and tools are implemented, they need to be actively enforced and utilized. Each company will have a designated team of individuals — usually including a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and an IT director — spearheading this initiative, but the reality is, all employees are responsible in some capacity for ensuring the security of their company’s sensitive data.

The role of the CISO in data security management

A company’s CISO is the leader and face of data security in an organization. The person in this role is responsible for creating the policies and strategies to secure data from threats and vulnerabilities, as well as devising the response plan if the worst happens. To do this, CISOs need to first locate all sensitive information their company possesses. This way, they can understand the risks this data is prone to as well as any vulnerabilities in the current IT environment. From here, they can craft detailed policies and implement specific technology that best protects this data and ensures their companies remain compliant with the privacy regulations governing their sensitive data.

CISOs will also be responsible for communicating to executives, stakeholders and the rest of the company all things cybersecurity, including potential threats, vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity environment, best approaches for tackling those vulnerabilities, the value of implementing new cybersecurity technology, employee cybersecurity training recommendations and breach or incident response plans. In the event of a cyberattack, the onus ultimately falls to the CISO.

The role of the IT director in data security management

Depending on a company’s size and budget, the IT department can range in size from one person to a team. Regardless of whether an IT director works alone or leads a team, primary responsibilities include enacting the strategies put forth by the CISO, monitoring all activity that occurs within the IT infrastructure, implementing and managing any security technology in use across the organization, maintaining regulation compliance and collaborating with the CISO on things like evaluating new security technology and defining components of the company’s incident response plan. Generally, IT directors and teams work more personally with the different departments across an organization to ensure data security versus the CISO.

The role of all employees in data security management

Once a company’s CISO and IT director develop and define their cybersecurity policies, they’ll also create training for all employees to complete. Human error is often a contributing factor of security vulnerabilities, which is why mandated awareness is an essential element of data security management.

Training should communicate security policies, best practices, risks and potential threats in an easy-to-understand manner. Many training courses supplement lessons with quick exercises like quizzes to make sure information is being retained and understood. Minimum takeaways from employee training need to include the use of strong passwords to access devices and accounts, as well as being able to recognize potential threats, such as phishing emails, strange links and questionable attachments. Lastly, employees need to understand and exercise best practices for using sensitive data in day-to-day work tasks, especially when doing so outside of the company’s network, such as on laptops in remote work environments.

Making data security management more efficient

Data security starts with data discovery, because you need to know what exists to protect it. Knowledge of the data an organization possesses is also essential to guiding the policies and tools CISOs and IT directors implement to keep it secure. But, as data becomes increasingly more prevalent in day-to-day and long-term business operations, it also becomes increasingly more difficult to track.

What’s more, as much as 90% of enterprise data is unstructured, adding another layer of difficulty when searching for and correctly labeling it. The process of manually identifying unstructured data can lead to false positives, or mislabeling data as sensitive, which eat up valuable IT time to resolve. Manual discovery isn’t a sustainable way to move forward in these data-centric times; it’s too time-consuming and opens a window for human error that could exacerbate risks. Enterprise security teams need support in the form of automation tools.

The right data security suite can own the responsibility of automatically discovering sensitive data as it’s collected and stored within an enterprise. It can correctly tag and classify data based on its level of sensitivity, so the necessary and regulation-compliant security measures get applied. With this newfound visibility, security teams can know right away what data was accessed, by whom and when, which empowers reporting, facilitates awareness among all parties in an organization who deal with sensitive data, and enables security teams to respond quickly, avoiding time, financial and reputational penalties.

Spirion empowers enterprise data security management

CISOs, IT directors and all others responsible for their company’s data security management are already swamped as is. Spirion’s Sensitive Data Platform can help by handling the more tedious daily tasks associated with data security management. SDP accurately discovers sensitive data wherever it lives within an organization so it can be strategically classified and secured, freeing up time that can instead be spent on bigger strategy planning, implementation and optimization, and reducing any risks that can arise as a result of human error. To learn more about how you can make your company’s data security management processes more efficient through automation, contact us today.