Data is a valuable tool that helps firms run more efficiently, make better decisions, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Unfortunately, fraudsters wishing to access and tamper with sensitive information may readily target today's data. This is why cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a key strategic concern for organizations and companies of all sizes.
As the threat of cyberattacks grows, security teams are putting in more effort to develop the capabilities needed to plan for and respond to these threats. And, as data quantities increase, remote working models need enterprises to strike a balance between productivity and data accessibility while maintaining security.
Furthermore, maintaining compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other data legislation implies that, in addition to securing information, organizations must also ensure its privacy in terms of how data is acquired, transferred, and used. As a result, regulatory data governance is in high demand.
In this article, we’ll break down what data governance is and why it’s so essential to cybersecurity.
What is Data Governance?
Data governance is the practice of applying internal data standards and regulations to manage the availability, accessibility, integrity, and security of data in business systems, as well as to regulate data consumption. Data governance guarantees that data is accurate, reliable, and secure, as well as that it is not misused. As organizations face new data privacy regulations and rely on data analytics to help them simplify operations and make better business choices, it's becoming increasingly vital.
A properly done data governance program often includes a number of teams, including a governance unit, a steering committee, and an individual or group of data stewards. They collaborate to develop data governance principles and standards, as well as implementation and enforcement methods, which are frequently performed by data stewards. In addition to the IT and data management teams, executives and other authorities from an organization's business operations should participate.
While data governance is an important part of an overall data management strategy, success depends on firms focusing on the intended business advantages of a governance program.
Why Does Data Governance Matter in the Context of Cybersecurity?
Without appropriate data governance, data inconsistencies in multiple systems within a corporation may not be managed. This might make data integration and data integrity more complex, lowering the accuracy of BI, corporate reporting, and analytics systems. In addition, data mistakes may go undiscovered and untreated, decreasing BI and analytics accuracy.
Data governance issues might potentially stymie regulatory compliance efforts. Companies that must comply with a rising number of data privacy and protection rules, such as the GDPR of the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act, and may face difficulties as a result. An effective enterprise-level data governance program often entails the creation of company-wide data definitions and standard data formats that are implemented across all business systems, resulting in improved data consistency for both business and compliance purposes.
The Relationship Between Cybersecurity and Data Governance
At its most fundamental level, cybersecurity is safeguarding an organization's infrastructure and data from assault, damage, or unauthorized access. Data governance, on the other hand, aims to specify what data assets the company has, where it resides, and who may act on it when and under what conditions.
This is why data governance is so important when it comes to implementing a company's security plan. Because you can decide how to effectively devote resources to secure your data until you know how much it's worth, where it's stored, and who has access to it. To put it another way, once you know how sensitive a data collection is, you can apply the proper information security rules to keep it safe. In this approach, good data governance is an important part of a company's overall cybersecurity strategy.
Understanding the Main Elements of Good Data Governance
Data governance requires that data be protected according to its worth or sensitivity. The strategy adopted for data discovery and classification, on the other hand, can make or fail a data governance program that aims to show compliance by regularly applying rules and standards.It will be hard to properly use, administer, or safeguard your data assets if you don't know what they are or where they are. The increased use of cloud-based 'as-a-service' platforms and technologies has made this work far more difficult.
The data discovery process, which is the first step toward efficient governance, necessitates an end-to-end software solution that can connect to any sort of data source and identify data assets – no matter where they are located. If an unprotected data asset suffers a security or privacy breach, this skill is critical; otherwise, companies will be exposed to substantial risk.
Similarly, firms' data categorization methods for identifying unique assets and applying the right level of security will be crucial. Organizations should use easy classification categories based on well-understood rule sets – such as GDPR and CCPA sensitivity or Personal Information (PI) and Personal Identifiable Information (PII).
This can be a stumbling block for organizations that don't have a discovery tool that can tell the difference between PI data (which doesn't identify a specific person and isn't usually responsible for governance violations) and the more sensitive PII data in order to provide a truly precise classification. Users will have no alternative but to manually process and separate more sensitive PII data if this feature is not provided.
Organizations will be able to make better-educated decisions about what level of data protection and security policies should be implemented for each data collection once they have these data governance insights. It can also help with better decision-making when it comes to allocating security resources to meet data protection objectives.
Without these insights, some businesses may take a "belt and braces" approach, applying security technologies such as least privilege management to all data sets they hold, regardless of classification. While zero trust is a highly effective way to improve security and protection, it may rapidly become a costly choice if used across the board rather than simply for high-value or high-risk data assets.
Other companies, on the other hand, will treat batches with zero trust depending on their view of which function originates and consumes the most sensitive data. Finance and human resources are common examples. However, without a thorough data discovery and classification procedure, it's possible that other vital data sources inside the ecosystem could be overlooked, possibly resulting in major governance blind spots.
The Benefits of Data Governance
A fundamental goal of data governance is to break down data silos inside a firm. Individual company divisions build their own transaction processing systems without the need for a centralized coordination data architecture, which results in silos. Data governance aims to integrate the data in such systems in a collaborative manner including stakeholders from a variety of business divisions.
Another purpose of data governance is to guarantee that data is utilized correctly, both to avoid introducing data mistakes into systems and to prevent the abuse of personal data and other sensitive information about clients. This may be achieved by establishing consistent data-use regulations, as well as mechanisms for monitoring and enforcing the policies on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, data governance can aid in achieving a balance between data gathering techniques and privacy regulations.
Data governance delivers enhanced data quality, cheaper data management expenses, and increased access to essential data for data scientists, other analysts, and business users, in addition, to more accurate analytics and higher regulatory compliance. Finally, data governance may assist executives in making better company decisions by providing them with more information. This, in theory, will result in competitive advantages as well as greater revenue and profits.
Implementing Data Governance
Organizations should make data governance a strategic priority. You'll need to identify data assets and current informal governance mechanisms, improve end users' data literacy and abilities, and determine how to evaluate a governance program's performance. Before creating a data governance framework, you must first identify the owners or custodians of various data assets within an organization and include them — or designated surrogates — in the governance program. The program's structure is then created by the acting CDO, executive sponsor, or dedicated data governance manager, who then works to staff the data governance team, select data stewards, and establish the governance committee.
The true job of data governance begins after the structure is in place. Data governance policies and standards, as well as regulations defining how data can be utilized by authorized individuals, must be defined.
Cybersecurity necessitates data governance. Organizations must know what data to safeguard and how to effectively protect it in order to defend against attacks. Data governance enables an organization to identify its high-value, high-risk datasets and, if necessary, commit additional resources to their protection.