Five Data Security Controls Every Business Must Have

Five Data Security Controls Every Business Must Have

Sensitive data is subject to security and privacy regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Hence, firms must provide solid evidence of having adequate technical and administrative controls to protect sensitive customer data.

What are Data Security Controls?

Data security controls are policies and procedures firms adopt to secure themselves. These policies limit the risk of stolen, lost, or misused data.

What is the Core Objective of Data Security Controls?

The core purpose of data security control is to secure the data held by the firms. It helps minimize the risks of data breach or loss, and deploy policies and best practices. These controls help facilitate risk management by detecting and responding to threats in networks, hardware, and software.

Firms run many security controls- each with a specific objective. They have transparent procedures and goals to mitigate the risks. Understanding the core objective of data security control will help them know whether these controls can address the specific risks and protect the systems.

Here are a few data security controls businesses must have.

1. Access Control: Who Can Access the Systems?

As per a recent report by Cyberark, “2023 Identity Security Threat Landscape Report,”

99% of firms say they faced identity-related compromise. 74% are concerned about losing critical data due to missteps from employees, ex-employees, and third-party vendors.

Securing user-level access to data systems is the primary line of defense. Hence, enforcing account management is crucial. Firms can control accounts using authentication management and directory systems like Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

Moreover, least privilege and separation of duties facilitate a solid approach to access control. Least privileged access allows authorized access to system data only for required users, which means they can only access the data as per their job function.

Separation of duties grants access based on individual roles, which means an admin will have higher-level access than other employees.

While admins have many accounts for multiple functions, issues arise when these accounts are used for unintended purposes. For instance, admins do not keep user-level accounts only for non-administrative activities.

Another vital aspect is to ensure the team audits the right events and provides auditors with the right data. Correct data helps compile the list of insights that the auditors would prefer to see. For instance, auditors might request event information about failed and remote log-on and quick access upgrades.

2. Configuration Management: Are the firm’s configuration changes authorized? How often do firms assess the data inventory?

Proper configuration management controls cover the policies for the authorized system configuration changes. They prevent unauthorized adjustments and require the administrator to document the changes when done.

These controls ensure that all the configurations are maintained to provide solid security. With the help of configuration management controls, firms can update and track the data inventory. Knowing what and how much data they have provides the groundwork for any robust security program.

3. Security Assessments: Do firms know whether their weaknesses lie?

Regular security assessments offer real time environment snapshots with vulnerability and risk analysis to complete the penetration tests.

After real time analyses, firms must track all the detected risks with a Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM). Such reports contain a list of risks and how they impact the security posture. It also includes dates to address the risks and mitigation plans.

Conducting security analysis is vital, but this is just one of the data security controls within a broader security program. Therefore, firms must continually check the systems to align with the constantly changing threat landscape and maintain an accurate view of weaknesses and risks.

4. Integrity of Systems: Are all the systems safe and free of exploits?

Protecting the system’s integrity with technical and operational controls must be a top priority. Safeguarding system integrity starts with installing malicious code blocking and spam protection mechanisms. It blocks endpoint attacks and works best with awareness and training programs.

Data system monitoring is the most vital data security control for detecting network security events. This works well with automation and endpoint detection software. These controls provide immediate protection and ensure that data is only changed with proper authorization.

5. Incident Response: Have firms tested an action plan for responding to a security threat when it occurs?

Without an effective incident response plan, the other controls might fall short. An incident response plan must contain details of handling the events as per data classification and the incident’s criticality.

These response plans help safeguard the businesses and in recovering after a security incident. Firms lacking an incident response plan also lack security commitments to auditors. This can lead to fines and legal actions when inevitable missteps in incident management occur.

It is essential to understand that industry-led frameworks like ISO 27001 and laws like CCPA demand an incident response plan.

Also, security information and event management (SIEM) system software can help with incident response. This tool must be refined with other tools, like data threat intelligence, to improve the detection and management of security events.

Lastly, these response plans must be routinely validated to ensure solid functioning during an actual response event.

Also Read: Strategies to Strengthen Data Security


The firm’s data security journey relies on the internal requirements. Hence, they must start by understanding the primary benefits of data security controls. It helps-

  • To track activities and flag suspicious behavior
  • In risk management to detect vulnerabilities
  • To remotely access controls to protect data
  • Backup to recover lost data

As businesses grow, the exposure to cybersecurity risks increases, and achieving compliance becomes challenging. Adequate data security control will help firms take control of where the sensitive data is to remain compliant with data security laws.

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