So you want to be a CISO: Here’s what you need to know about data security

Posted by Marbenz Antonio on June 22, 2022

5 key challenges being faced by CISOs right now - Security Risk Management

Any organization’s lifeblood is data. Protecting sensitive corporate data will be your priority, whether you’re a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or want to be one. But things aren’t getting any easier. In 2021, the number of data breaches surged by 68% to 1,862, costing an average of USD4.24 million each. The damage from a breach affects everyone, creating lower brand equity and consumer trust, decreased shareholder confidence, failed audits, and greater regulatory attention.

It’s easy to become so focused on preventing the next ransomware attack that you ignore risks within your own business. Insider data leaks, intellectual property (IP) theft, fraud, and regulatory violations—any of these may bring a firm (and your career) crashing down as swiftly as a headline-grabbing breach. Given the scope of today’s digital estate—on-premises, in the cloud, and at the edge—Microsoft Purview provides the inside-out, integrated strategy that an effective CISO requires to prevent internal and external data breaches. Here are some things to think about when setting priorities for yourself and communicating with your board of directors.

Mind your own house—insider threats

As the “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle” continues, organizations around the world are dealing with increasing numbers of people attempting to flee climbing aboard. According to Microsoft’s most recent Work Trend Index, 43% of employees are likely to explore changing employment in the coming year. This major movement in employment status has been accompanied by the “Great Exfiltration,” in which many transitional employees may leave with sensitive data stored on personal devices or accessed through a third-party cloud, whether purposefully or unintentionally. In 2021, 15% of workers uploaded more corporate data to personal cloud apps than in 2020. Worryingly, in 2021, 8% of departing employees uploaded more than 100 times their average data volume.

As a CISO, you are in charge of data that is scattered across multiple platforms, devices, and workloads. You must consider how that technology interacts with the business processes of your corporation. This includes putting procedures in place to prevent data exfiltration, which is especially important if you work in a regulated field like finance or healthcare. It begins with the question, “Who has access to the data?” Where should the data be stored (or not stored)? How may the information be used? How can we avoid oversharing? A cloud-native and complete data loss prevention (DLP) solution allows you to centrally manage all of your DLP policies across cloud services, devices, and on-premises file shares. Even better, no new infrastructure or agents are required for this form of unified DLP solution, which helps to keep costs down. Even in an era of rapid change, today’s workplace necessitates the freedom of employees to produce, manage and exchange data across platforms and services. However, when it comes to mitigating user threats, the businesses for which they work are frequently bound by limited resources and rigorous privacy regulations. As a result, you’ll require technologies capable of analyzing insider threats and providing integrated detection and investigation capabilities. Insider dangers will be best addressed by:

  • Transparent – using privacy-by-design architecture, you may balance user privacy with organizational risk.
  • Configurable – regulations that are enabled based on your industry, geographical location, and business groups
  • Integrated – maintaining a workflow that is connected throughout all of your data, regardless of where it resides
  • Actionable – enabling reviewer notifications, data investigations, and user investigations

Insider threat protection should comprise templates and policy requirements that determine which triggering events and risk indicators require investigation. As a result, your insider-risk solution should be able to identify potential risk trends across the business and analyze problematic behavior using end-to-end workflows. Furthermore, a solution that aids in the detection of code of conduct violations (harassing or threatening language, adult content, and the sharing of sensitive information) can be a solid indicator of potential insider threats. Machine learning will assist in providing more context surrounding specific words or key phrases, allowing investigators to expedite remediation.

Automate and integrate your data strategy

Because many organizations are afraid to commit to a single provider, most CISOs must deal with data spread over a patchwork of on-premises and cloud storage. Legacy data silos are an unfortunate part of life. If massive quantities of “dark data” are not accurately identified as sensitive, protecting personally identifiable information (PII) or sensitive company IP and implementing data loss prevention strategies becomes challenging. A frugal CISO should simplify wherever possible, relying on a complete solution to protect the entire digital estate. A good data management solution should allow users to manually classify their documents while also allowing system administrators to use auto-labeling and machine learning-trainable classifiers.

  • Data discovery: It is not uncommon for an employee to unintentionally store a customer’s Social Security Number (SSN) on an unsecured site or a third-party cloud. That is why you will need a data management solution, such as PII, that automatically identifies sensitive data using built-in sensitive information types and regulatory policy templates, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. (HIPAA). Because sensitive data might end up everywhere, the proper solution must employ automation to cast a wide net over on-premises, multi-cloud, operational, and software as a service (SaaS) data.
  • Data classification: Look for consistent built-in labeling that is already integrated with widely used applications and services, allowing users to further customize sensitivity levels for their requirements. The ideal system should also support automatic labeling and policy enforcement across an organization, allowing for speedier classification and data loss prevention deployment at the enterprise scale. Also, look for unified data management systems that detect and classify sensitive data located on-premises, in multi-cloud, and in SaaS to develop a holistic map of your entire data estate.
  • Data governance: You want your organization’s data to be discoverable, trustworthy, and stored in a secure location. Keeping data for longer than necessary raises your risk of exposure in the event of a breach. On the other hand, removing data too quickly can expose your company to regulatory penalties. Data retention, records management, and machine learning technologies help you control risk and liability by classifying data and automatically applying lifecycle policies, allowing you to store only the data you need and delete what you don’t.

Make data protection a team effort

A primary role of any CISO is to secure the organization’s intellectual property (IP), which includes software source code, patented designs, creative works, and anything else that offers the company a competitive advantage. However, as big data grows and legal standards change, CISOs are expected to protect user data such as PII, personal health information (PHI), and payment card industry (PCI) data. Privacy regulations are also tightening constraints on how user data is used, kept, and stored, both internally and with third-party providers.

Additionally, hybrid and multi-cloud services introduce new issues by dispersing data’s geographic origins, storage location, and user access points. Today’s CISO must collaborate with colleagues in data protection, privacy, information technology, human resources, legal, and compliance, which means you may share responsibilities with a Chief Data Officer (CDO), Chief Risk Officer (CRO), Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and Chief Information Officer (CIO). That is a lot of acronyms on one table. Rather than duplicating efforts or competing for territory, a good CISO should implement a single data protection solution that eliminates potential redundancies and keeps your whole security team on the same page.


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