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Security Governance: What Is It & Why Does Your Business Need It?

Information security and new legislations such as GDPR mean that security governance has become hugely important to businesses. Yet many businesses do not have effective security systems in place, despite many believing that they’re taking their data protection and security efforts seriously. As such, in order to ensure that your company is compliant with the law (GDPR), reduces its risk of a security breach and runs smoothly, security governance should be a key part of your business strategy.

But what exactly is security governance and why is it so important? If you’ve not heard the term before or you’re still confused what this means for your company, we’re here to help. In this guide take you through the definition of security governance and why you need to make this a key part of your business security framework.

What is security governance?

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offers a simple definition for security governance to get us started. It is as follows:

‘Security governance is the means by which you control and direct your organisations approach to security. When done well, security governance will effectively coordinate the security activities of your organisation.’

This is of course, a very top-level definition of security governance and there is a lot more to be said about it if we hope to build a real understanding of what it is and why it’s s important. For starters, it’s broken down into a framework of policies, standards, and processes, all of which are used for the structure, for decision making and for setting goals and expectations for your business’ security systems.

Having effective security governance in place enables the secure flow of information throughout your business and ensures the right decisions are being made. Security and data protection are the responsibility of a business and this includes staff at all levels. As such, senior members of staff must use security governance to set out a framework for all employees which outlines security requirements, legal requirements and data breach procedures.

If you don’t have any sort of security governance systems in place this can have a damaging impact on your business. After all, customers won’t like it and insurance or third-party providers certainly won’t like it! There are a number of different approaches you can take to security governance, but we’ll look at these in more detail later in the guide. For now, let’s look at why your business needs these frameworks.

Why does your business need security governance?

We’ve briefly touched on some of the reasons why security governance is so important in the introduction, for example, remaining GDPR complaint. Now we’re going to look in more detail at why you need to get solid frameworks and systems in place for your business. Here are five of the most important reasons:

1. For risk management

This is one of the biggest and most obvious reasons your business needs security governance. You need to be able to implement policies and procedures that mitigate the risk of a security breach. Ideally you want the level of risk to be as low as possible and continual analysis and improvement can help you to achieve this.

2. To ensure that all resources are being used responsibly by your business

This is important for cutting time and costs, by ensuring that information security and infrastructure are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible to keep the business safe and secure. You don’t want to be wasting resources or money on systems that simply aren’t working.

3. For strategic alignment

It’s important that you align your security management goals with the overall aims of the business. This will help you to achieve your objectives. For example, if building a good reputation is a key objective for you, then having strong security systems in place are vital for ensuring customers and clients feel safe using your services and will be happy to share their personal information with your business.

4. To measure your performance

A good security governance framework will ensure room for analysis and evaluation of performance, and at this stage the success or failure of your existing security systems should be monitored. This helps you to highlight areas of your security that can be improved, as well as revealing how close you are to achieving your overall objectives.

5. Providing strategic direction

It’s important that all staff understand the importance of security and the role they play in keeping the business secure. This is particularly important for ensuring accountability for decision making. Because at the end of the day, no matter which member of your team had the final sign off or made the final move, your entire business will be held accountable for a security breach. So security governance is vital for making sure everyone is on the same page.

How do I decide on the right approach for my business?

Because there are a number of approaches you can take to security governance, for example you could take a holistic approach, you need to choose the one that’s best for your business. To do this, consider the problems that you’re facing, taking into consideration your biggest security risks. You must also consider the size of your organisation and how much data you hold.

Another important aspect of setting up the right security framework is being careful not to treat security governance and the daily running of your business as separate things. This is why all staff should be trained on security best practices and everyone should be aware of the framework and systems you have in place. This avoids anyone trying to take risks based on their own ideas, simply because they have not been told how else to approach the problem.

So, in a nutshell, you need to get to work on security governance right away. Spend some time considering your biggest security threats and align these with your overall business goals. This will reveal the best approach for your business.