Tuesday, 23 January 2024 02:48

Key Security Considerations To Make When Managing Digital Assets

By  Matthew Smith

As we begin to embrace digital technologies in more facets of our daily life, maintaining our online footprint is becoming increasingly important for both individuals and organisations alike. Our growing integration of the world wide web in our business processes and professional presentation, brings a heightened need for awareness and knowledge of robust security measures to protect our privacy, intellectual property, and financial data online. 

Businesses can also greatly improve their capacity to generate new business by ensuring that their organisation is safe from the ever-constant risk of cyberattacks or network breaches. But what is the best way for companies to manage both their internal and client-facing digital assets today?

We’ll be answering just that question in this article, so continue reading to learn how to secure the critical organisational information and client data that’s all stored within your applications and digital files today.

Look To Industry Standards To Develop Your Processes & Management Infrastructure

First, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right systems in place for responsibly managing your digital assets. For many businesses, this means adhering to your industry standards (as outlined by governing or industrial bodies), but remember that you also have the infrastructure provided by ISO standards.

With that, consider investing in an ISO 27001 consultation for your business. The ISO 27001 Information Security Management System standard revolves around providing guidance with establishing, maintaining, and even continually improving on information management systems. If you’re able to attain ISO 27001 certification for your business, you can then showcase your certification online and demonstrate to prospective clients that you’re committed to maintaining exceptional information security practices. 

In other words, taking this step towards bolstering your digital asset management processes may also help you attract more cyber-conscious customers.

Establish Encryption Basics

A considerable amount of any digital security strategy revolves around bolstering an organisation's encryption standards and protocols. Encryption preserves all of the confidential data that your organisation is tasked with managing by issuing decryption keys, which must be used on either end of an online transaction. Without these keys, the data is undecipherable to any party wishing to access it.

It’s important to mention, however, that not all of the algorithms creating these keys are equal. Selecting which one to use depends on your organisation's standards and the nature of the data being secured. The primary consideration is choosing a robust encryption algorithm that can withstand sophisticated attack methodologies and support the data types you need to protect.

Text-based information favours specific protocols, while others are suitable for video or multimedia-formatted data. To enhance the effectiveness of your security initiatives, tailor your selections according to these specific data types.

Whichever algorithms you select, proper implementation is vital. Devise secure methods for creating and distributing crypto keys. Periodically rotate and refresh the keys, like we manage our personal passwords, to mitigate any vulnerabilities. Finally, implement secure backup systems (also with encryption) and develop contingency plans for recovering and replacing lost key pairs.

Considering Access Control

Access to organisational data should be granted based on each individual's role within the group. Thus, permissions would be distributed granularly from each application and operating system's security dashboard settings.

This involves creating multiple hierarchies of role definitions that employees slot into depending on their job description. According to a standard least privilege principle, persons may fit into only one classification or multiple.

This refers to reducing the risk of unauthorised access by only granting read/write trust according to job functions. Security administrators must continually audit these settings to ensure organisational chart changes and evolving security classifications are reflected.

For an added security layer, using multi-factor authentication (or MFA) requires users to give multiple ID responses before receiving access to specific applications or data sets. The factors might include one or more of the following: One-time codes, a biometric such as a fingerprint or retina scan, and random character passwords. MFA implementation must consist of thorough cybersecurity training for staff members to explain the process's benefits and how to navigate the added steps and complexity.

Backups and Recovery

A foundational piece of online security is the implementation of resilient, automated backup systems to guard against not only hardware failures but the risk of intrusions and subsequent data theft. The primary considerations for configuring backup jobs are timing, frequency, and storage implications since this data requires significantly large amounts of drive space.

Administrators must evaluate how to configure their full & incremental backup jobs while not interfering with regular business hours activity. Many elect to run jobs overnight, but for some organisations, this isn't feasible due to the 24/7 nature of their business. In that case, they evaluate the many data replication alternatives available, where snapshot copies of their physical and virtual machine infrastructure are created for backup purposes.

Physical disaster considerations involve implementing offsite replications and backup activities to mitigate risks from scenarios such as floods, fires, or other natural disasters impacting the data centre housing bare metal servers. This involves added factors, including geographical separation of main vs. secondary sites, the secure data transmission pipelines between those locations, and backup job validation to verify the data integrity.

Network Considerations

We briefly touched on the data pipelines between physical sites in the previous section. However, it bears repeating that the underlying network is a crucial piece of the puzzle when discussing digital security. Administrators must evaluate many systems which can be combined to create a robust defensive posture.

These include implementing an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), automated responses, firewalls, and Virtual Networks (VPN). Each serves specific roles, and one or more should be considered, depending on the organisation's objectives. All of them come with their encryption subsystems discussed above, so implementing these systems requires a specialised knowledge and training regimen for administrators who install and maintain this infrastructure.

Strategic Vigilance

We've shown the secret to safeguarding online data requires specialised knowledge and training to implement comprehensive security measures. There isn't a one-size-fits-all choice. The size of your organisation, the nature of your business, and the information within your organisation dictate your approach. Realise that data security is not a static goal. Staying current requires vigilant auditing and adaptation to new threats and emerging technologies through comprehensive training and adherence to stringent security certification programs.

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