The negative impact of not managing sensitive data properly can be damaging. You are aware of the risks and so you have embarked upon a discovery process in order to learn where all the data is stored. You have classified all the sensitive and confidential information collected from customers, employees, partners, prospects, etc. as let us say- general, public, confidential, or highly confidential. You have also completed risk so you can secure the data better from the risk of loss, theft, or exposure. The next logical step is to govern your data.
What does Data governance mean?
If data is a strategic asset of an organization, then data governance must be the foundational pillar of the enterprise data strategy. Data governance helps you put in place processes such as setting controls around the data, its content, structure, use, and quality to manage it efficiently. All the steps that come before, such as data discovery, classification, and protection, are essential to developing your data governance strategy. Data governance guarantees that your data is discoverable, precise, and reliable.
How do you launch an effective data governance plan?
The right data governance plan makes it easier for you to establish if your data is consistent, reliable, and leveraged optimally. Here we give you the three stages of creating a successful data governance plan-
1. Place lifecycle controls on sensitive data
There are many regulations and laws that determine the period you must retain data and the conditions under which you should delete data. Many privacy laws dictate that you must keep personally identifiable information (names, ID numbers, home addresses, and IP addresses) only till it met its desired purpose.
Your data governance plan must take these data retention requirements into consideration. Rather than taking up the practically impossible task of manually tracking the files that are subject to a retention or deletion regulatory requirement, a simpler method would be to implement ongoing controls to auto-expire personal data or set up automated reminders to assess the data regularly to evaluate whether it is still active and in use. Another alternative is to have the necessary approvals ready before deleting the files so that you make sure it is the verified personal data that is being deleted and not the wrong content, which could be damaging to the business.
2. Operationalize data governance
The next step is to outline the strategy and define how to operationalize the management of your data governance plan. You must treat data governance as an ongoing process if you want to govern and secure your sensitive data effectively. A particularly crucial point to remember is that any organization’s approach to data retention or deletion will differ according to the corporate policies, and the laws and rules of its country. So, it is necessary to identify how frequently you want to review, delete, and archive your sensitive data.
An effective way to significantly reduce the responsibility of management is to automate ongoing operations. An easy but efficient way to automate is to auto-label sensitive documents at various confidentiality levels. If data is not properly labeled as sensitive, it becomes extremely challenging to identify, locate, or govern it properly.
3. Enforce role-based access
One of the fundamental principles of the Zero Trust policy is to grant people access only to the data and resources they need to complete their work. Delegating role-based access control secures the resources by overseeing who has access to what resources and what they can achieve with those resources.
Ensure you build a comprehensive lifecycle for access that includes employees, partners, vendors, and guests. Getting onboarding managers to set permissions is not a good idea as they may end up delegating over-permission or under-permission to the role. One more issue with only onboarding handling identity governance is that this does not cover the changes in access if employees shift roles or leave the organization.
The best way to delegate permissions is for the heads of each department to ascertain in advance the exact type of access each role would require to perform their jobs, followed by the IT and security partner creating role-based access controls for each of the roles. Finally, the compliance team is accountable for monitoring and reporting to make sure these controls are implemented and stringently observed. When you determine what information people need access to, you must consider 2 things-
- What must they do with the data
- The level of access they require to do their jobs
The perfect data governance strategy is all about guaranteeing that the right people have the right access to the right information at the right time. All organizations are obligated to demonstrate to regulating authorities and auditors that privacy policies are being observed and administered effectively in the company. Limiting network access based on individual users’ roles can help with that.
Few other queries that must be raised and covered when building the data governance plan-
- Do you have a procedure in place for revoking access when someone does not need it any longer due to reasons such as role change, offboarding, etc?
- Does your data governance plan include recurring and exception-based monitoring and reporting to verify what people are doing with their access?
- Would the implementation of a permissions management solution enhance user productivity and help reduce costs and IT’s workload?
Developing and implementing a data governance plan that includes setting lifecycle controls of sensitive data, operationalizing data governance, and managing role-based access goes a long way in securing your sensitive data. Data governance, as a follow-up to implementation of data discovery, classification, and protection, will help you secure your sensitive data through its entire lifecycle as per industry compliance regulations, in turn protecting your customers, prospects, employees, and partners and accelerating your company’s digital transformation.
The data governance journey can be challenging, and you need a trusted partner who has experience working with data, both structured and unstructured, expertise in data security, and setting up collaboration technologies. We, at Netwoven, leverage our decades of Microsoft 365 experience to work for your organization. Reach out to us to learn more about our data security and governance services.