Managing and maintaining security in the enterprise

In the digital age, more often than not, organizations are playing defense against cybercrime. In fact, a report from Online Trust Alliance shows businesses reported 159,700 cyberattacks in 2017 – nearly double than those reported in 2016.

For any enterprise, especially those with complex infrastructures and legacy technologies, the risks of a cyber attack can have devastating impacts – ranging from loss in productivity, lost revenue, and even legal consequences and hefty fines. Adding to cybersecurity pressures, new regulations like GDPR have placed the spotlight on compliance and IT maintenance.

With the ever-increasing focus on deep, real-time data compliance, organizations are faced with a new challenge: how to modernize old reporting practices to meet the needs of the new age of IT security?

On top of new regulations and stricter policies, more companies are pushing forward digital transformation initiatives, adding to why data protection and risk assessment in the enterprise is more important now than ever before. In order to meet regulations and better protect data, companies must prioritize their activities and focus their efforts on the most critical and sensitive applications and data in the enterprise.

Out with the old

In the past, companies implementing and following IT security processes were required to follow elaborate and work-intensive IT security processes. In the event of a security audit, organizations were stuck manually collecting data and resorted to reporting using spreadsheets across multiple source systems. And the response collection process didn’t get much easier – surveys had to be sent via email to stakeholders creating major delays (think weeks and months between response times) and outdated information on top of intense manual efforts to consolidate and report.

These types of delays are not only risky, but unnecessary. Achieving a future-proofed IT security strategy is attainable if organizations have the right solutions in place to detect suspicious behavior and block the negative effects of a malware attack in real-time.

Preventative measures and regular maintenance

Utilizing tools and services that exist to prevent and protect IT systems should be the first step in maintaining security and minimizing risk in the enterprise. On the technology side, tools such as anti-virus protection, malware protection, password protection, and intrusion detection serve as the first line of defense against cyber attacks. Routine maintenance and regular updates is a simple step in protecting data assets. To take it a step further, automating monitoring and reporting systems to proactively find gaps and protect can minimize the manual interventions.

On the organizational side, developing and executing on processes to ensure protection of both security-relevant data (such as personal information) and and sensitive company data (contracts, offers, strategies, patents, business variables, etc.) is a critical step for security in the enterprise. Through regular trainings, teams can best determine responsibilities around data, and develop the documents needed for compliance and internal procedures.

Once these procedures have been developed, organizations should work to standardize their approach. There are a variety of security standards that have been developed which are considered universally valid. On the international level, the two ISO norms, ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27002 are recognized as the most important standards to follow.

Securing the Enterprise with EA

While preventative measures are the initial steps in combating cyber attacks, history has shown these processes are not enough when managing robust IT security in the enterprise. Today’s organizations need real-time visibility across the application and the overall IT landscape, from the IT services down to the individual components needed to run specific applications. Enterprise Architecture (EA) managements offers a framework to anchor IT security in the company. EA provides a streamlined approach for managing security practices, and eliminates the need for manual, time intensive reporting to achieve the necessary transparency across the IT landscape.

An EA solution enables organizations to clearly define and assign roles and responsibilities around security. Understanding who is responsible for applications, who should implement technical requirements, who should be informed in case of a security incident, and so on, can quickly establish and minimize response times and strengthen organization in the event of an attack. Working seamlessly with an IT Service Management (ITSM), EA gives IT a head start on communication. It enables a quick and effective collaboration platform between IT services, business capabilities, applications, IT components, and IT security – based on a single source of truth.

By tagging and designating responsibilities across applications and initiatives through fact sheets – documents used to track architectural objects – organizations have access to a rich, single visualization that is automatically assembled, updated, maintained, and accessible to those who need it.

Assessing and controlling risk

In today’s digital age, organizations must realize there is no 100-percent guarantee of IT security. Instead, they should focus on controlling those areas where a data and security breach or cyber attack could most negatively impact the organization.

EA solutions assess and provide insight into data that are considered low and high risk. For example, information can be measured using a scale that classifies information as non-risky and could be made public without negative impact, to highly sensitive information, that should be considered classified and very harmful if made public.

In addition to understanding what information is high risk, identifying which applications are relevant to IT security is an important step in managing and maintaining security, as well as giving a level of transparency within the organization for the right employees to find in the right place. Through features such as heat maps, IT teams can easily see what applications are the most relevant to security and where they interface with other applications. Not only do these visualizations quickly answer questions on what information is where and how the data flow is structured, but it shows which areas of business would be most affected in the event of an attack, as well as the financial consequences of a system failure or breach.

With today’s IT firms combatting near-constant cyber attacks, a robust IT security process and plan is a vital to protecting sensitive data. Gone are the days of work-intensive, manual data compilation processes. Today’s organizations will require careful planning around security protocol, and need the right tools to see and assess risk, identify weakness, and proactively maintain and protect against cyber criminals.

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