In today’s digital world, safeguarding sensitive data is crucial for businesses. One key aspect of data protection is conducting a thorough Data Risk Assessment (DRA). This comprehensive guide will walk you through the importance of DRA, its benefits, and a step-by-step process to conduct one efficiently.
Understanding Data Risk Assessment
Data Risk Assessment is a systematic process that entails reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating the locations where sensitive data is stored and managed. This data can include intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII), and other critical business information.
The main objective of a DRA is to identify potential risks to sensitive data and implement appropriate measures to mitigate these risks.
Conducting a Data Risk Assessment is vital for several reasons:
A comprehensive Data Risk Assessment typically follows a three-step process:
The initial step in a DRA involves gaining full visibility into all data stored, collected, and transmitted by your organization. This process is known as creating a data footprint. Key elements to define during this step include:
Data Owners/Data Stewards
Identify individuals responsible for the collection, protection, and quality of data within a specific department or domain.
Data Types and Attributes
Identify and tag sensitive files with classifications to enhance controls.
Determine the risk level and potential impact on the organization if data is compromised.
For effective data classification, consider assigning risk levels such as high, medium, or low, and classification categories like:
Data whose unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction poses a high level of impact on the organization.
Data that is only to be seen by a selected few eyes. Unauthorized disclosure of this data could lead to fraud, and significant damage to the organization and consumers.
Data whose unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction poses a low level of impact on the organization.
Once you have covered all the responsible parties and the level of risk associated, you need to map the data to the apps that use it. This mapping should include:
This stage involves reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating threats and vulnerabilities that could put data at risk. Risks to consider include:
Automated solutions can help streamline the risk assessment process by scanning data repositories and analyzing data storage, handling, and security processes, practices, and controls.
After assessing potential risks, it is essential to mitigate these risks by addressing the identified vulnerabilities. Some remediation activities include:
Transitioning from a traditional security approach to a data-centric security approach can be challenging.
However, with distributed workforces connecting to your data from the public internet, securing the transmission itself is crucial. This can be achieved using a virtual public network (VPN) or Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to protect data in transit.
Performing a comprehensive Data Risk Assessment is crucial for any organization to safeguard sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance.
The three-step process outlined in this guide will assist you in identifying potential risks, mapping data to applications, assessing vulnerabilities, and implementing effective remediation strategies.