Protecting a firm’s data and other highly valuable assets can be a challenging and overwhelming task. With the increase of cyber threats, companies have been designating teams of information assurance (IA) professionals who specifically help assist with defending an organization’s data and network. Leading an information assurance team can be a complicated task, especially when the industry is progressively expanding. To assist with this, managers of IA teams should be continually looking to build IA awareness and organizational support, note industry trends, leverage hack-offs and compile a database of resources.
1. Building IA Awareness
The threat of data loss within every data-driven enterprise has both external and internal components. Information assurance leaders should ensure that their team understands the diversity of external elements that could pose as potential cyber attacks, as well as possible threats within daily internal interactions, such as emailing and file sharing with team members. Because internal data loss is often unintentional, the first step to mitigating potential issues is for information assurance leaders to actively increase awareness among the IA team, as well as the entire firm. Information assurance leaders should also strive to assist team members with developing the insights, relationships and projects such as newsletters, presentations, etc. needed to help build this greater awareness across the organization. Some ideas to consider may include helping team members develop organizational presentations on the importance of information assurance or brainstorming simple procedures that address security concerns, such as password protocols. Regardless of the selected methods, the more that IA team members stay attuned to industry trends and advances, the keener their awareness for preventing future cyber-attacks on their firm.
2. Building Organizational Support
Data loss can threaten a firm’s competitive position in any industry, as well as compromise hard-fought advancement of data strategy development. Information assurance leaders can help build organizational support by training IA team members on effective communication skills and stressing to their team and firm the importance of keeping valuable data safe. For example, operational changes can affect how IA tasks are performed, so the importance of these changes, as well as any new IA processes, must be properly communicated. It may be helpful for IA leaders to schedule check-in meetings between IA team members and different organizational departments to address processes and concerns. This can help build support across departments, as will IA management demonstrating data security methods to improve organizational areas such as customer service and job security.
3. Keeping Employees Up to Speed on IA Trends
When information assurance leaders effectively raise awareness on data security across departments and have the full support of the organization, their team is positioned for success, both in communication with peers and in maximizing data security investments. With so much flux and new developments in information technology, emerging trends and nuances can sometimes be overlooked. To help with this, IA leaders should set aside time for their IA team members to conduct and share research on industry trends with the organization. This will not only help prevent avoidable mishaps, but will also help reinforce an organizational culture with a strong focus on informational integrity and data security. Having more individuals tuned to IA improvements, ranging from best practices to risks to innovative new products, can enhance the organizational impact of the IA team.
4. Leverage Hack-Offs
With every data security solution, there is still a risk of data loss, regardless of the type or scale of investment. Even when the firm’s information is highly secure against external threats and IA strategies are working on all cylinders to prevent data loss through internal activities, potential vulnerabilities can still go unidentified. For example, a network or system could simply go down, or a disgruntled worker with high-level clearance could intentionally jeopardize data security. Information assurance leaders can leverage internal hacking competitions amongst their team to help continually improve the organization’s informational infrastructure. This allows for practical training, as well as the ability to discover any of the IA team’s own vulnerabilities before someone else does.
5. Compile an IA Resource Database
Compiling a one-stop source where IA team members can access studies, resources, and news on both internal and external events is a great final step for strengthening team cohesion around organizational goals. For example, information assurance leaders could have team members read about problems uncovered in the latest hack-off competition and identify how to fix or avoid such issues, or reference new case studies about companies using the top cloud-based data solutions in the industry. Overtime, the development and maintenance of this type of system will allow for more effective implementation of all the tips discussed for leading an information assurance team.
Due to the progressing sophistication of cyber attacks, IA leaders should ensure that their team members remain actively engaged in this developing industry. Effective effort towards collaborative goals is key for building team morale and achieving IA goals. Each team member brings a unique perspective to the pool of IA solutions, so firms with IA leaders that understand how to effectively lead and manage their team will have the most success.
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The Information Security Leader, Part 4: Three Persistent Challenges for CISOs, IBM
Implementing an Information Assurance Awareness Program: A case study for the Twenty Critical Security Controls at Consulting Firm X for IT Personnel, SANS Institute
Information Supplement: Best Practices for Implementing a Security Awareness Program, PCI Security Standards Council