Defining data protection, governance, risk management and compliance

Data sits at the heart of business operations. You leverage it to make strategic decisions, provide customers with great experiences, and record employee details. With data the heart of business, it is also the biggest target for attack.

Kaseya’s VSA software experienced a ransomware attack back in July, and in November, GoDaddy reported a data breach that compromised the data of 1.2 million customers. In light of these breaches and the expansion of remote work, data protection has climbed high on the priority list for many organisations and their leaders.

We often hear the terms ‘data compliance’ and ‘data governance’ used together, and interchangeably. While both terms are related, they do not carry the same definition, and you should not conflate them when it comes to the data your business manages.

What is data governance?

Data governance is a set of principles, policies, and procedures about the data life cycle from its creation to how you share it across your organisation. Governance is increasingly important in a world driven by digital engagement. It helps guide quality control, sets a framework for remaining compliant, and ensures people follow security procedures, so your company’s data remains safe.

In other words, when you refer to “data governance,” you’re talking about how an organisation handles all of its data in a single system. The idea behind this approach is that by controlling who can manipulate what type of information and where they can do so, you’ll have a solid defence against data breaches.

The need for data governance arises because companies today are faced with an overwhelming amount of big data and other information coming from various sources. Data governance helps businesses quickly store and analyse this data and integrate it so users can get insights across their operations and business process. This leads to better decisions, improved operations, and greater efficiencies.

What is data governance

How data compliance works

Data compliance covers the process of meeting regulations that enforce data protection. Some laws apply to just Australian organisations, such as the Privacy Act and the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme. Some international laws apply to businesses based in Australia, especially if you have clients who travel overseas or hold citizenship or business interests offshore, such as GDPR.

There are many reasons why a business needs data compliance, including:

  • Secure sensitive customer information from theft or unauthorised access
  • Ensure regulatory compliance with privacy, security and legal requirements
  • Reduce the risk of penalties for noncompliance
  • Protect against cyberattacks

Data compliance laws are complex, subject to change and can become difficult to manage if your organisation does not have a standard for approaching them. Data compliance also helps protect the integrity of the data by reducing the risk of someone making changes without authorisation.

How data compliance works
Source: OAIC.

Why do you need risk management?

A business needs to have a specific data risk management plan to avoid losing data and protect against possible leakage or loss. This process helps to identify and mitigate risks specific to the company’s data handling practices and requirements.

Good risk management is needed to deal with uncertainty. Both human and natural factors can create risk. The potential risk becomes a real event when the company either allows the probability of occurrence to occur or does not take any action to prevent it from happening. On the other hand, good risk management includes assessing the revenue and costs if an event happens. It also includes performing high-probability interventions that are more cost-effective to mitigate the risks.

The risks of improperly managed business data are high. It’s in the best interest of any organisation to take the necessary steps to ensure that their customers’ data is protected and secure. One way companies might go about this is by outsourcing data risk management. Doing so will also provide them with greater access to resources, savings on internal bandwidth, and a level of expertise that you cannot achieve internally.

Why do you need risk management

How data protection complements the above points

Data governance, compliance and risk management, are all aspects that work together to ensure that you manage all data in your business effectively. Data protection is the practice of ensuring data is secure from accidental and deliberate breaches, and it supports compliance whilst also reducing risk.

The three core data protection principles are:

  1. Data must be processed lawfully and transparently. 
  2. Data should only be collected for specific purposes. It shouldn’t be used or disclosed in any way that isn’t compatible with those original reasons you obtained it.
  3. Data collectors (for example, your business and staff) must ensure the information is adequate, relevant and not excessive to achieve the purpose of collection.

It is important that businesses implement data protection measures to safeguard against vulnerabilities such as data breaches that can severely damage customer trust and your brand reputation.

“Customer demand is driving a mandate for digital ethics in businesses, resulting in more legislation to protect data privacy and data security.” Gartner.

Balancing data protection with productivity

When implementing a data protection solution, it is important that you enforce security without sacrificing your team’s productivity. There are different types of security policies, each tailored to an organisation’s specific needs, which determine how to balance these with productivity to keep operations running effectively.

Some businesses are reluctant to implement any data protection measures because they would cause an unnecessary reduction in productivity. However, by implementing mandatory access controls on all users and containers, you can increase the security of the data without affecting the productivity of your company.

Simply allowing open access within your network means exposing your files from all angles and potentially leading to cyber attacks from external threats that could leverage login credentials or other information on company systems.

Some of the most critical applications are those with which employees are involved. These are your day-to-day workplace applications, where you are accessing files, sending an email, or checking customer information. And for some businesses, this is where they need to be agile and responsive for time-sensitive operations or customer engagements.

Balancing data protection with productivity

How Wyntec secures your data

Wyntec provides Microsoft-driven tools that discover, classify, encrypt, and protect data. This ensures that even if someone does get hold of sensitive information either accidentally or intentionally, it will be impossible for them to share outside authorised. We also enable cyber security protection and data backup to prevent your business from being held to ransom. The tools we use secure your office network, staff working at home, and even mobile devices – so if they lose a phone, we can remotely wipe any sensitive documents from the device.

We also understand your internal processes and roles and embed them in a structure that enables easy data governance management. You don’t have to become an expert in governance systems to get governance right: you just need a partner that understands both technology and your business at a deep level.

This means achieving data compliance becomes relatively easy, as most data compliance hinges on your data being secure and your processes being documented and followed. The net benefit is reduced risk for your business and greater comfort for your staff, that they can work securely, anywhere.
Visit our Cyber Security page for more on how we can protect your data.

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