Building Data Compliance: A 6-Step Risk Management Guide for SMBs

riskTechnology is producing great new global opportunities, but SMBs can be hindered by a lack of dedicated internal ‘enterprise IT’ departments required to operate the advanced infrastructures needed. Businesses today need realistic solutions for data compliance performance.

And whilst the fines, liabilities, and sanctions that can result from security breaches are naturally disastrous, that isn’t the only factor involved. Without standard, effective, and comprehensive GRC (governance, risk, compliance) protocols in place, there’s simply no way to predict how certain dangers will impact your company.

Connected small businesses need to be proactive to avoid data compliance mistakes that create a complex environment, and which hinder your ability to quickly adapt to any changes that occur in your business or that inhibit your capacity to swiftly adjust to new regulations.

By following these 9 steps you can help develop and increase enterprise IT capacity, without incurring hefty costs.


1. Identify Your Requirements

Every company should have their own internal compliance protocols; e.g. which individuals in your company need access to what data? You should also ascertain whether your business is subject to any external regulatory requirements such as PCI compliance or Data Risk Management or protection? By first identifying your needs, you can develop a solution.


2. Identify key areas of risk management

What IT disasters could have the most negative effect on the business? Compromised customer information, confidential business information such as patented products, and your current business processes, should all be considered.


3. Rule of Least Privilege

Security system parameters should be established to limit access according to role. There is absolutely no reason for all users to have unlimited access to all data. Instead, permissions must be issued or rescinded based on user profiles, and those profiles should be examined at regular intervals.


4. Review Your Data Storage Structure

Data storage files should be organised according to a well-planned folder structure–which is basically a way for separating system information from business information. With a good plan, you are able to apply access controls logically, to reflect a hierarchy that conforms to the information management, data sharing, and security requirements of your business. Organise by department, business activities, geography, product categories, time periods, user access and change of control status, making it less prone to mistakes or corruption. Plus, you can develop separate structures for tests, development and production.


IT Policy and Guidelines

Producing a company-wide policy regarding GRC that includes personnel guidelines and best practices can improve your connectivity security. This policy should be frequently revisited to encompass new regulations that pertain to your data storage and archiving processes.


Include Virtualisation Compliance for Virtual Servers

Your policy should place an emphasis on virtualisation compliance. With PCI, even if only one of your virtual machines (VM) interacts with sensitive customer data, then your entire virtual infrastructure must be compliant. This is true for your VoIP, software systems, and mission critical applications as well.


Alter Defaults

A virtual machine can be duplicated and deployed using the default passwords and configurations embedded by the vendor. Traditional infrastructure designs help prevent this by network scans, but in virtual environments, this process is less effective. You need to ensure that all default passwords and configurations are altered.


Proper Scope Definition

Not recognising (and accounting for) out-of-scope systems from the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards that may have access to confidential information is a big mistake. For example, businesses that host their own e-commerce website but employ a third-party PCI-compliant provider to conduct transactions must re-direct customers to the third-party page. An attacker could gain access to your underlying host operating system, then orchestrate your re-directs to their own “fake” payment page by altering your file. Therefore, page redirects (designed to place the system out-of-scope) should have clear risk mitigation protocols in place, otherwise, information can be compromised with fake re-directs that collect customer information for malicious use.


Running Certified Software in Uncertified Environments

Just because you are running certified software doesn’t mean that that’s all there is to compliance. Your IT environment and service provider also needs to employ basic  PCI compliance for your software or e-commerce platform’s security.


Ensuring Implementation

If your data definitions, business rules, and other governance and risk policies aren’t actually enforced, all of your efforts will be in vain. One of the biggest mistakes that a growing business can make with cloud connectivity is to simply believe that once everything is set-up, no further action is required.

Partnering with a qualified telecom provider, who can offer dedicated IT service, is the most cost-effective way to ensure that your GRC performance conforms to current regulations.

Your company can realise the advantages and protections of a dedicated in-house IT staff, minus the large operating and capital expenditures, by outsourcing your IT to a trusted, local provider.

Speak with one of our professional experts today to discover more about securing all your business data.

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