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Collaboration Needed to Effectively Manage Data Security

Cyber exposure at all levels of business operations, from financial transactions to customer service and customer apps, is increasing. At the same time, new regulations regarding the governance of data are posing higher potential fines, to the point of also posing a threat to business. As a result, security and compliance personnel are seeing their duties increasingly overlap in their effort to fight these threats — and they understand that to pull off both operations, a certain level of collaboration and consolidation of their efforts is essential.

In an interview with Corporate Compliance Insights, Managing Director of the Information Security Forum (ISF) Steve Durbin identified the increasing burden of compliance on organizations as a serious area of concern. According to Durbin, while regulations including GDPR are well intentioned, enforcing compliance practices can consume enormous time and resources and does not always equate well with ensuring security, privacy and other ends regulations seek to achieve.

At the same time, realizing organizations’ own commitments to ensuring security often requires a suite of measures that is separate from protecting their customers. The result has been a piecemeal approach to security and compliance that has created unnecessary cost and complexity as well as, in many cases, overlapping security and compliance functions that could better be handled by a unified approach.

What’s at Risk

Organizations today are facing an increasing variety of information risks that pose consistent, serious, enterprisewide threats. Cyber exposure at all levels of business operations, from financial transactions to customer service and customer apps, is increasing. As a result, ever more sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, information leaks and the proliferation of communication channels outside the control of IT or security can do more direct damage to a business than ever.

Meanwhile, regulations responding to many of the same threats and aimed largely at protecting users are creating a situation where compliance failures themselves are so costly as to directly threaten businesses as well. For example, fines for noncompliance of GDPR can climb as high as €20 million or 4 percent of global annual turnover, whichever is higher. As a result, security and compliance personnel are seeing their duties increasingly overlap in their effort to fight these threats — and they understand that to pull off both operations, a certain level of collaboration and consolidation of their efforts is essential.

A recent survey conducted by Actiance and IDG Research revealed that a more collaborative relationship between security and compliance departments is a top priority for professionals in both functions.

Risks and Impact of a Data Breach Top List of Concerns

When asked to identify the most important risk areas being managed by their companies, respondents across all functions rated as top concerns the risks and impact of a data breach – with the exception of respondents with risk/compliance titles, who ranked loss of sensitive customer information slightly higher.

Overlapping Functions

Seventy-five percent of survey respondents report that their function collaborates with other departments in evaluating and selecting risk management solutions, while only 5 percent say their function alone is responsible for those tasks.

However, security and compliance professionals report that collaboration is not enough. Both identified the need to develop common control processes as the most important future action that will simplify and make more effective both compliance and security. Presently, control processes are often specific to each function and define both different standards as well as different response measures for the same or similar threats.

Security and compliance fundamentally differ – and will continue to differ – in their functional responsibilities for managing data breaches and the potential loss of sensitive information. However, the desire for common process controls and policies will drive more firms toward shared views of the many information risks created by the way business is done today.

Budget and Resources May Be Lacking

It should be noted, however, that when asked to identify those areas that aren’t working well, respondents from all functions identified lack of budget and resources as an area of concern. Considering what’s at stake, companies may want to consider allocating more budget toward activities that bring security and compliance functions more in line with each other.

The Challenge is Real, But Addressable

The stresses posed by maintaining compliance and security have crept up on organizations gradually for years; consequently, security and compliance measures have been adopted step-by-step as well.

The last thing organizations may want to think about in the face of the massive effort in preparing for regulations like GDPR or cybersecurity threats posed by the latest business technology is a total overhaul and reconciliation of their policy and process controls. In spite of this, the need for overhauls is widely evident and widely acknowledged by professionals in the industry. The increasing complexity of threats and regulations will not be effectively countered by an increasing complexity of responses to those threats and regulations, but rather, by a more unified, simplified approach.

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Robert Cruz

Robert Cruz is Senior Director of Information Governance for Actiance, the leader in communications compliance, archiving and analytics. Mr. Cruz leverages more than 20 years of Silicon Valley experience in providing thought leadership on emerging topics including cloud computing, information governance and discovery cost and risk reduction. Prior to Actiance, Mr. Cruz was Senior Director of Information Archiving & eDiscovery for Proofpoint, Inc. Earlier in his career, Mr. Cruz served in a variety of management capacities at Electronic Evidence Discovery (EED), FileNet/IBM, BroadVision and Hewlett-Packard. Mr. Cruz holds an MBA degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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