When safeguarding your business against cyberattacks and data breaches, CISOs and compliance officers can choose from all sorts of information security controls — everything from firewalls to malware detection applications, and much more.

Thankfully you don’t have to start from scratch when implementing cybersecurity controls. Many standards and frameworks exist that can help you secure your IT systems properly. Not only will the standards help you establish security standards; they will also point you toward the areas where unauthorized access most commonly happens, and help you to steer your risk management and information security controls in the right direction. 

The most widely used information security frameworks and standards include:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-53,  Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations 
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard ISO 27001,  Information Security Management 
  • The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The nonprofit Center for Internet Security 

Basic Information security controls fall into three groups: 

  • Preventive controls, which address weaknesses in your information systems identified by your risk management team before you experience a cybersecurity incident.
  • Detective controls, which alert you to cybersecurity breach attempts and also warn you when a data breach is in progress, so your cybersecurity staff can begin to limit the damage. 
  • Corrective controls, such as backups used after a cybersecurity incident, to minimize data loss and damage to information systems; and to restore your information systems as quickly as possible.

For the sake of easy implementation, information security controls can also be classified into several areas of data protection:

  • Physical access controls. This includes restrictions on physical access such as security guards at building entrances, locks, close circuit security cameras, and perimeter fences. 
  • Cyber access controls. These are cybersecurity controls and policies such as up-to-date firewalls, password policies, and software applications that alert you to cybersecurity risks like ransomware attacks and phishing.
  • Procedural controls. This includes security awareness education, security framework compliance training, and incident response plans and procedures put in place to enhance network security. 
  • Technical controls. Increasingly common are controls such as multi-factor user authentication at login, and also granting internal access to your IT system on a need-to-know basis. 
  • Compliance controls. This means adherence to privacy laws and cybersecurity frameworks and standards designed to minimize security risks. These typically require an information security risk assessment, and impose information security requirements. For example, if your company is required to be in compliance with the NIST cybersecurity framework but isn’t, it can face monetary penalties until those compliance controls are put into place. 

Working remotely demands separate countermeasures against data breaches 

Many businesses sent a large percentage of employees to work from home in 2020 because of COVID. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to review your remote IT infrastructure, as well as the use of mobile devices and cloud-based web applications. 

If having a lot of employees working remotely is new to your business, make sure you make that work environment part of your vulnerability scanning when you examine your existing cybersecurity controls. 

  • Remote VPN connections and wifi connections are notoriously vulnerable to malware and viruses. 
  • Make sure antivirus software on internal servers and external computers and routers is continuously updated. It’s easy to “forget” hardware that’s not right there on campus. 
  • Include remote workers in new IT security protocols and include off campus hardware and software in your vulnerability management. 

Speaking of employees and emerging risks, also remember this. As your business grows and your IT structure becomes more sophisticated, train your first line of defense: your employees. Do so by conducting periodic security awareness training for everyone, and schedule regular inspections of whether your established security controls have kept up with the threat landscape. 

Cybersecurity and compliance management tools

As you forge a path for your business in our post-pandemic, highly interdependent world, many tools can help keep your business safe and your data information secure.

ZenGRC’s compliance, risk, and workflow management software is an intuitive, easy-to-understand platform that not only keeps track of your workflow, but also lets you find areas of high risk before that risk has manifested as a real threat. 

Worry-free compliance management is the Zen way. For more information on how ZenGRC can enable your CMS, contact us for a demo.

Fine-tune your InfoSec policy

to boost cybersecurity

free template