Whose Job Is Data Security, Anyway?

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Whose Job Is Data Security, Anyway?

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Ask a company which role or team is ultimately responsible for ensuring data protection or data security, and they often cannot give a single, clear answer. Even if the organization has a Chief Data Officer or designated data protection officers, responsibility is typically distributed across various functions under the CTO, the CIO, the risk or compliance team, and the CISO, with input from business units, data scientists, business analysts, product developers, and marketers.

While it might sound nice to say “Data security is everybody’s job,” in practice this scenario commonly leads to an ambiguous, inefficient mess — and serious security gaps.

The High Stakes of Enterprise Software

Even if they do not make software as their primary work, virtually every enterprise today is heavily reliant on software, in the sense of purchasing or creating applications to improve processes. Examples abound: Insurance companies build mobile apps so policyholders can file claims and adjusters can fill out damage reports. Big retailers and shippers write massive logistical programs to manage complex supply chains. Many types of companies create their own software for making forecasts. And almost every enterprise tasks solution architects or other application owners with implementing major third-party packages for many corporate functions.

Of course, software vendors are even more heavily engaged in this work, and tensions abound. The CTO wants software that makes the company’s IP portfolio more valuable, product and marketing teams want apps that are better and cheaper, the CISO wants the product to be more secure, and so on. Application owners and the developers who work with them can be pulled in different directions as they try to create and manage highly functional apps. In this setting, security and governance concerns can easily fall by the wayside — affecting not just the vendor itself, but all of their clients as well.

Data Protection Is Critically Important, but Orphaned in Many Organizations

All of these organizations rely heavily on the data that flows into and out of enterprise applications. The good news is that these apps function as superhighways for the flow of data, bringing huge benefits in terms of productivity.

But the benefits also come with real risks. Now more than ever, business apps handle many kinds of data coming in at all hours from all over the map, and then pass that data to any user with the right credentials. In many cases, unfortunately, this includes exposing sensitive data to employees who don't need it for their jobs, or who shouldn't be permitted to see it at all. Giving so many people access to that much data creates serious potential hazards even with traditional cybersecurity measures in place, as a glance at the past decade of headlines about corporate data breaches makes obvious.

When implementing data protection is so fragmented, no single team is given real responsibility, much less empowerment, to carry out the task. The result? Data security falls between the cracks.

What’s the Answer for Better Data Protection?

There is an answer to this dilemma: put the responsibility for data protection in the hands of the application owners who create or manage the applications that use the data, and empower them — and the development teams that work with them — accordingly. Such empowerment implies removing organizational roadblocks and using appropriate technology to handle the burdens of data protection. This quickly improves data security and compliance, but it also boosts innovation and competitiveness over the longer term.

ALTR co-founder and CTO James Beecham recently led a discussion of these issues in a Data Protection World Forum webinar, “Data Protection Is Everyone's Job, so It's No One's Job.” He was joined by Jeff Sanchez, a managing director at Protiviti who draws on his nearly thirty years of industry experience as he leads that firm’s global Data Security and Privacy solutions. During the session, these experts explained exactly how organizations can empower application owners and development teams with solutions that enable them to quickly incorporate security and compliance at the same time — and at the code level.

Access the webinar now so you can find out how this approach not only protects the organization from data breaches and compliance failures, but also enables personnel across many functions to improve innovation and competitiveness.

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