A Guide to Information Security Governance

A Guide to Information Security Governance

Security governance is becoming increasingly more important in all industries, especially considering the major hacks that have recently occurred.

What is security governance? Security governance is how a company controls its approach to security through its procedures, strategies, and other necessary programs to manage risk and ensure its security goals are achieved.

What Is Information Security Governance?

Information security governance is a framework of policies, practices, and strategies that align organizational resources toward protecting information through cybersecurity measures.

Governance policies are critical for most enterprise organizations because ad hoc security measures will almost always fall short as modern security threats and IT infrastructure evolve. Security and information governance centralize accountability and planning in an organization so that several overlapping priorities are in place at all times. These priorities include the following:

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  • Allocation of Resources, including funding for technology, personnel, training materials, and executive positions related to compliance and information security
  • Compliance, whether with industry standards or optional frameworks as determined by organizational needs
  • Accountability, centered around a management hierarchy that can formalize decision-making and processes development
  • Implementation of advanced security measures like risk management, proactive prevention, and tools like vulnerability scanners, penetration tests, or artificial intelligence

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Encompassing these priorities are four components of security governance:

  1. Strategy: Across security goals, business goals, financial goals, and compliance requirements, an organization must have a strategy in place. This strategy should align all these priorities into a shared set of practices and policies.
  2. Implementation: Strategy isn’t worth much without proper execution. An organization should secure funding and support for business leadership to devote resources to properly deploying security requirements aligned with governance strategies.
  3. Operation: Once implemented, a security infrastructure requires continuous operational support. This includes direct management of compliance, project alignment, and risk.
  4. Monitoring: Success, failure, and optimization—measuring these facets of a security strategy requires regular monitoring and measurement for analytics and reporting.

What Is a Security Governance Framework?

Security governance is a complex process that can encompass every aspect of an organization. Fortunately, security and compliance efforts have worked out several strategies and best practices to support effective governance policies.

To help enterprises implement security government strategies without reinventing the wheel, professional organizations have developed frameworks to support the rapid and effective deployment of security governance infrastructure.

One of the most well-known (and influential) frameworks available is the Cybersecurity Framework, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This framework guides mobilizing business priorities to drive security and risk management. This guidance is structured around five Core Functions:

  1. Identify: An organization must develop the ability to identify critical resources, people, assets, information, and capabilities related to implementing and maintaining IT security. This includes understanding the business contexts of these resources.
  2. Protect: An organization should implement the proper controls to protect identified assets and limit the impact of security issues related to these assets should a breach occur.
  3. Detect: An organization should deploy resources, including scanning and monitoring tools, to detect cybersecurity events as they occur.
  4. Respond: An organization must have the ability to respond to security events after they occur, including efforts to mitigate breaches, remediate issues, and address security failures.
  5. Recover: An organization should use security events, compliance requirements, and business goals to develop recovery and resiliency plans, including regular backups and hot/cold restoration for continuity.

What Are the Benefits of Security Governance for Business?

Organizing security and compliance efforts under a single strategy will bring several significant benefits to an organization far beyond struggling with ad hoc security.

Some of the key benefits of implementing security governance policies include the following:

  • More Effective Security: A comprehensive and well-defined security governance policy can bring together business and security goals in a way that disorganized security approaches simply cannot match. Frameworks can further help organizations hit the ground running with comprehensive approaches to security that will help them meet their goals.
  • Uniform Application of Compliance Requirements: Compliance is a critical part of doing business in most industries. Adherence to regulations, however, is an all-or-nothing reality—if one part of a system is noncompliant, then the whole organization is open to penalty or potential breach. Security governance policies can streamline compliance practices across technical, administrative, and physical systems.
  • Common Language for Security: It doesn’t help when security experts are silenced into their own enclaves. An organization can create a common vocabulary understandable across the enterprise with a robust policy framework.
  • Streamlined Technology: Once security and compliance requirements are mobilized in policy, it becomes quite easy to define the proper platforms the organization should use for business operations like customer relationship management, secure file transfer, document management, and secure email.

What Are the Challenges of Implementing Security Governance?

While there are significant benefits to implementing a security governance policy (or framework), it’s not the case that these policies shape or implement themselves. There are several areas where an organization can face challenges on how its governance policies play out.

Some of the challenges of security governance implementation include the following:

  • Lack of Buy-in by Management: Not all business leaders, especially those running small- to medium-sized businesses or growing enterprises, understand the value of cohesive cybersecurity. Yet, some may look to cut corners in areas where they have yet to feel a negative impact—like cybersecurity. Lack of buy-in can make it impossible to pull together the people and resources needed to implement security governance policies.
  • Lack of Personnel: Conceiving and implementing security governance requires expertise and continued maintenance. As such, organizations without critical personnel, including security and compliance officers, will struggle with their policy implementation.
  • Inability to Measure Success: Without proper metrics and analytics, it isn’t easy to gauge how, or even if, a security governance policy or framework is making a difference. Because this kind of infrastructure is an expenditure above and beyond immediate security measures, many enterprises may not have the capabilities to launch full-scale monitoring tools, which can slow down policy rollout.

Kiteworks: Secure Content Communications for Governance Policy Support

One of the key aspects of any security governance policy is a foundation of secure technology that can meet compliance requirements. This includes technologies for email, document management, file sharing, and file transfers.

The Kiteworks platform delivers comprehensive governance, compliance, and protection of private data as it moves into, within, and out of an organization. Kiteworks includes advanced enterprise data management features that operate within a long list of regulations across multiple major industries and consumer markets without sacrificing functionality.

The following features are included in the Kiteworks platform:

  • A CISO Dashboard provides comprehensive data access, user access, data trends and movement, and controls over data transfers.
  • Seamless managed file transfer automation and scheduling to power robust file sharing and transfer policies, including off-hours transfers and operations triggered by employee or patient activity.
  • Secure email links to protect personally identifiable information (PII) such as protected health information (PHI) while maintaining easy and streamlined communication with patients via email.
  • SIEM Integration with popular platforms like IBM QRadar, ArcSight, FireEye Helix, and Splunk Forwarder. The integration standardizes audit logs into a single file format to support widespread security information and event management consumption.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) integration to scan all in-transit data to determine whether or not it contains sensitive or personal data.
  • Disaster recovery with hot systems and multi-site data redundancy guarantees your systems stay up in an emergency.
  • SIngle-tenant cloud environments ensure that threats to other users will not spill over into your Kiteworks platform instance.
  • Access controls overflows and connections to protect sensitive data from illicit access.
  • Compliant encryption, including AES-256 for data at rest and TLS 1.2 encryption for data in transit and supporting compliance efforts for regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, FedRAMP, CMMC, NIST 800-53, ISO 27001, and GDPR.
  • Large file transfer and storage with limits up to 16 TB.
  • Detailed one-click HIPAA reports highlighting risks in your security and governance policies. Use them in audits to quickly demonstrate compliance with your documented controls, such as DLP scanner integration, data access policies, domain whitelisting, and file expiration controls.
  • Additional layers of protection are included for encryption keys using integration with a hardware security module or Amazon Web Services Key Management Service.

To learn more about file transfer and how it can fit into a complete security governance plan, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.

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