At its core, data security is used to protect business interests. To realize this purpose, it takes both the physical means to "be secure", as well as the governing policies needed to institutional acceptance. Ultimately, policy success depends on having clear objectives, actionable scope, and inclusive development. Read on to learn more.
We all know that I.T. stands for "information technology" and that's no accident. In fact, it's a reflection of the primary mission of every I.T. organization - to provide the means and methods for creating, storing, transmitting, printing and retrieving business related information. By design, this operational mission is driven by the need to "protect", which also includes preventing unauthorized access, uncontrolled modification and unwarranted destruction. The priorities are self evident - data integrity is vital, and vital needs must be met with purpose and committment. The tricky part is to balance vital interests with the associated costs and operational overhead. This is the higher purpose of data security and the goal of related policy development.
Get an illustrated view of IT policy planning and development in our informative infographic: The Fundamentals of Sound IT Policy
As discussed, "data security" provides the means by which business data and related information is protected and preserved. This is realized in multiple ways, as listed below:
Of course, the physical means of "securing data" are essential to the process. You must have the technical ability (through hardware and software) to physically meet each of the above listed objectives. But that will only take you part of the way. To realize all of the intended benefits, data security practices must be "institutionalized" - i.e. integrated into the corporate culture and made part of how a given organization works. This is achieved through the development and implementation of effective "data security policy". Policy is a governance mechanism, used to translate tangible security objectives into organizational terms that can be implemented and enforced. In the case of data security, related policies provide the "how, what, and why" to communicate security objectives and promote expected compliance.
To fulfill this mission, data security policy must be developed and documented to reflect the following components and answer the underlying formative questions:
Every data security policy will benefit from an inclusive approach to development and implementation. It takes a partnership between all of the interested and invested stakeholders to fully realize policy relevance and enforcement. In the collaborative approach, the end-user partner defines the need (the data to be protected and the business basis behind the security requirements). The IT partner provides the technical means (and capability) by which the identified data security needs can be met. These needs and means are then combined to form actionable policy through an "inclusive" development process, characterized by input and collaboration at every stage:
As policy development unfolds, checkpoints should be established to ensure that all decision making stakeholders have been sufficiently engaged in the development process. Considering the long term benefits of collaborative policy development (compliance is more readily secured when you have advance buy-in), it's always a good idea to create a "policy team" or committee as the organizational vehicle for policy development. This policy team or committee should include members from all sides - the end-user community, IT department, Legal department, Human Resources and any other appropriate department with something to contribute. This will help to ensure that the policy delivered represents all interests, incorporates all concerns, and has the greatest chance to succeed.
For more on IT policies, download our free IT Policy Templates (for policy preparation and evaluation) and see the policy related articles listed below:
Six Keys to Sound I.T. Management Policies
Fundamentals of Email Usage Policies
Planning Policies for IT Asset Management
Policy Planning for End-User Technology Standards
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