Information Security Requirements: Your Obligations &  Considerations

 

Information security requirements are changing all the time. With the number of cyberthreats multiplying at an exponential rate, information security requirements need to be able to step up to the plate and defend against advanced security threats that could (and do!) endanger your business.

So, what are your information security requirements? Do you know where to start in order to adequately protect your data and network? In an environment where companies are being bombarded by threats on a constant basis, knowing your organization's security requirements are absolutely critical. That's what this blog is all about!

Information Security Requirements - 3 Types of Obligations to Consider

Understanding your information security requirements is the all-important first step to developing a robust information security strategy. However, it's important not to let compliance needs alone dictate what obligations you need to consider. In fact, your business and customer needs can sometimes be greater. 

When you think about your information security requirements, there are 3 types of security obligations you need to consider as an organization:

  • Business Obligations: These are the security commitments you have. For example, you have a responsibility to ensure that information in the business – customer data, employee files, etc. – is kept secure and is available when needed.
  • Regulatory Obligations: These are legal, compliance, or contractual obligations that your security team must fulfil. For example, organizations in the healthcare industry must be HIPAA compliant.
  • Customer Obligations: These are the security commitments that the customer expects your organization to keep. For example, if you were a manufacturing company that provided custom parts, those customers may require all of their proprietary blueprint files to be encrypted.

 

11 Most Common Business Obligations for Your Information Security Requirements

Organizations today, like yours, understand the need for security. Failure to meet those business obligations can result in operational problems, impacting your organization’s ability to function, and could ultimately affect your bottom line. Here are the 11 most common business obligations that you should keep in mind when determining your information security requirements:

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1. Business Continuity

The largest obligation that businesses have regarding their information security requirements is the ability to provide continuity for business services in the event that business-as-usual is interrupted by an event (such as the COVID-19 pandemic). Any information security requirements should take business continuity into account.

2. End-User Security

End-user security is another important consideration. This includes end-user security awareness and training to limit end users’ exploitability and the ability to remediate any disruptions to end users.

3. Risk Management

Information security risks (threats and vulnerabilities) must be identified, defined, quantified, and managed. This includes the prioritization and rating of the risks to systems and data.

4. Security Awareness 

Your new information security program must raise the overall information security awareness of the organization, in order to ensure privacy and security issues are mitigated and given adequate respect and consideration.

5. Integration and Interoperability

The security program you put in place will require well-defined and mature processes and controls that support information security, privacy, and compliance management obligations.

6. Data Protection

The primary expectation is that sensitive or critical information is secured from unauthorized access and disclosure. However, this expectation drives more detailed expectations as well, such as proper access control, encryption, and threat management.

7. End-User Ease of Use

Security controls must be easy for end-users, being sure not to impede their ability to complete their duties. If it impedes their abilities, they’re less likely to comply.

8. Innovation

The security strategy you implement must support innovative processes and enable the freedom to use new technologies.

9. Confidence and Assurance

Security controls should support a high level of confidence and assurance to the organization that data is being protected by following industry standard best practices. 

10. Governance Transparency

There should be transparency related to security risks and capabilities, including communication of breach and security incident activity to senior management.

11. Project Management

Security analysis and design must be integrated into project management processes, ensuring a risk-based approach is followed while not unduly limiting the ability to initiate or finish projects.

Have You Also Read?

8 Most Common Regulatory Obligations for Your Information Security Requirements

When it comes to your regulatory requirements for your information security considerations, it’s important to note that many of these are mandated by either legislation or compliance obligations. Here are the top 8 regulatory obligations to consider:

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1. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

This regulatory requirement applies to private sector organizations that collect personal information in Canada to ensure the protection of personal information in the course of commercial business. See more. 

2. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Applying to organizations operating within the EU and any organizations outside the EU who offer goods or services to businesses or individual customers in the EU, GDPR is the EU’s data privacy and “right to be forgotten” regulation. See more.

3. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

This regulation applies to any organization that processes, transmits, or stores credit card information, to ensure that cardholder data is protected. See more.

4. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

This regulation applies to the healthcare sector and protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information. See more.

5. Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)

This regulation applies to the healthcare sector and widens the scope of privacy and security protections that are available under HIPAA. See more. 

6. Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX)

This regulation applies to public companies that have registered equity or debt securities within the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to guarantee data integrity against financial fraud, and improve the accuracy of corporate disclosures. See more.

7. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

Also known as the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act applies to the financial sector, and requires financial institutions, including banks and lenders, to explain how they’re sharing and protecting the private information of their customers. See more. 

8. Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2

This regulation is a Canadian and U.S. government standard that specifies various security requirements for encryption algorithms and document processing, including cryptographic modules. See more.

 

3 Customer Obligations for Your Information Security Requirements

Today, most of your customers expect some level of security to be put in place to protect their data. For many organizations, customer data privacy is arguably the biggest reason to develop a mature IT security program. Failing to meet customer requirements could tarnish your organization’s reputation. Here are 3 customer obligations to keep in mind:

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1. Clear Communication with Business Customers

Whether it’s a B2B or partner relationship, organizations you do business with are expecting their data and their systems to be protected. Consider how your customer security requirements are communicated. Do you include customer security requirements in your Statement of Work (SOW) or Master Service Agreement (MSA)? Do you provide auditing processes or questionnaire-style surveys? Being able to provide clear communication around the customer’s requirements will be one way that you can set your organization apart from your competitors.

2. Know Your Business Customers’ Security Requirements

Organizations frequently have “best practices” or, in some cases, industry standard requirements that are placed on them. It’s a good practice to understand if your customers are facing these, and what that implies for doing business with them. This will help you to ensure that your organization’s information security requirements will match with theirs, and that your businesses are a good fit.

3. Privacy Policy for Consumer Customers

Consumer customers are customers that are actually consuming your products or services. They expect privacy. It’s normal for consumers to expect that their personal information is protected, and they’re more likely to buy from companies that they believe will protect that personal information. By putting strong information security requirements in place will only help you to increase your brand recognition as a company that takes consumer privacy seriously.

 

Ready to Put Your Information Security Requirements First?

Implementing information security requirements allows your business to be more prepared for the security threats that you and your customers are facing, and ensures that you can defend against advanced security threats that are endangering your business. By familiarizing yourself with the obligations that we’ve outlined in this blog, you’ll take your first steps into implementing information security requirements that will work for you.

At ProServeIT, we put a security lens on everything that we do. Not only do we implement our own information security strategies to keep our customers safe, but our team of experts have worked with many organizations to help them implement security strategies that work for them! Let’s chat! Contact us for a complimentary Cloud security assessment so that you know where to start and how you can improve your organization’s security posture.