How Data Governance Strengthens IT Security

The focus on the security of enterprise data resources has never been greater. As society continues to shift to a more digitally connected way of doing business, there is increased importance with protecting the personal and sensitive data that organizations collect and store. This affects everyone working in IT from upper management to the database administrators charged with implementing enhanced security measures.

One of the main reasons that data needs to be protected is because there is a seemingly limitless number of hackers who have designs on getting their hands on it. Individuals and teams are constantly scheming to come up with new methods with which to gain entry into your systems and compromise the information they contain. There is a disturbingly steady stream of reports that illustrate this point on an almost daily basis. A recent data breach that impacted 46,000 U.S. veterans is a prime example of this problem.

The value of corporate data stores and the repercussions over their misuse are the driving forces behind regulatory standards such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These regulations are meant to hold organizations accountable for data breaches that involve personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), and other types of sensitive data stored in enterprise databases. There can be substantial penalties for non-compliance that include monetary fines and reputational damage. A simple apology to the affected individuals is not a sufficient response to a data breach.

Enhancing Cybersecurity with Data Governance

Instituting a policy of data governance can be a determining factor in an organization’s ability to fully protect its data assets. Oracle defines data governance as “the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archival and deletion of data and information. It includes the processes, roles, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of data and information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.”

There are numerous benefits to companies that embrace data governance to address the flood of information for which they are responsible. Productivity gains and streamlined business processes are associated with data governance as the use of data resources is standardized throughout an organization. Getting everyone on the same page regarding data definitions and acceptable usage scenarios reduces the potential for errors and misuse.

Data governance offers multiple benefits that contribute toward keeping enterprise information resources properly protected. The insights and procedures that come out of a data governance program enhance IT security efforts.

Identifying data at risk - The first step in protecting data resources is to identify the types of sensitive information an organization collects and stores. Databases that contain PII and PHI are the prime targets of hackers because compromised data can be used for an extended amount of time. When financial information such as credit card numbers are stolen, a timely call to the financial institution will limit the damage. There are no such easy fixes when a social security number or health information has been compromised.

Locating sensitive data - Once it is confirmed that an organization has sensitive data resources, the next item that needs to be addressed is locating where this information is stored. Enterprise-level tools are required to locate the systems containing sensitive data so they can be more completely secured. Knowing where this data exists is also necessary when responding to a data breach.

Identifying sensitive data users - Internal access to sensitive data needs to be controlled across an organization. The policies developed by a data governance initiative should inform data stewards which personnel require the ability to access the data and how it will be used.

Ensuring safer access - Building on the previous three steps, processes can be put in place to limit access to sensitive data to those individuals who have a compelling reason to use it. In many cases, sensitive data can be processed without being visible to the IT staff. Visibility needs to be restricted to limit the potential for misuse by malicious internal actors.

Data governance in itself does not protect your data resources. It is not a panacea for your security concerns, but it does provide a shared language around data assets that enables an IT team to more successfully protect them.

Implementing a Data Governance Framework

IDERA’s ER/Studio suite of data modeling and architecture tools enables IT teams to create the foundation of a viable data governance program. They foster the collaboration that is required when attempting to define enterprise data resources across all areas of the business. ER/Studio can help teams identify and document sensitive data assets so they can be secured and compliance with regulatory standards can be verified.

A data governance program relies on enterprise-wide understanding and agreement on data terms and definitions. ER/Studio provides the vehicle for mapping the relationships between people, processes, and data so there is no confusion with how resources are being used. The tools improve the consistency of naming standards which will be beneficial to all enterprise processes related to your data stores. If you are looking for a way to tighten security around sensitive data resources, data governance offers a proven roadmap. It just might be time to take ER/Studio for a spin and see what it can do for your organization.