Information Governance

What Is Information Security Governance?

Most organizations have risk management at the top of their list. Risks can range from natural disasters to new ...

Most organizations have risk management at the top of their list. Risks can range from natural disasters to new competition. Cybersecurity and compliance have become top risk management concerns. Statista reports 1802 cases of data compromise cases in America for 2022. Companies also faced billions of dollars in fines for violating data privacy laws. What is information security governance, and how can it help organizations deal with such risks?

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Table of Contents

What Is Information Security Governance?

This governance describes the way a company manages its information security needs. Ideally, it protects the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information. IT managers begin by identifying all possible risks. They then design proactive policies and frameworks to tackle these issues at the source.

Information security governance transcends systems and databases. A more holistic approach also ensures employees understand the importance of confidentiality and their role in maintaining it.

What Are the Main Elements of Information Security Governance?

Building a governance system requires an in-depth analysis of an organization's information, storage needs, and security status. These are the five main areas managers need to cover when evaluating their organizations' information security governance needs.

1. Information Security Strategy

Managers must create a well-defined plan that aligns well with organizational goals. This strategy should outline the overall approach for managing and protecting information assets.

2. Policies and Procedures

Employees need comprehensive and up-to-date policies to help organizations safeguard data. For example, the effectiveness of multi-factor authentication has dropped from 99% to as little as 30%. Companies must update policies to match these and other changes.

3. Risk Management

You can’t manage risk without first identifying the threats present. IT managers should follow a basic process to address this:

  • Identify the potential risks.
  • Assess the organization’s exposure to these risks.
  • Implement solutions that mitigate these risks.
  • Monitor and review how well these solutions protect the organization.

4. Compliance and Audit

Failure to comply is expensive. In 2022, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney paid a $35 million settlement to resolve SEC charges of failing to protect personal information. Effective managers conduct regular audits and assessments to ensure compliance.

5. Incident Response and Management

Organizations should have a well-defined incident response plan to detect and address threats. Start by establishing a dedicated, multi-disciplinary incident response team. It should include lawyers, communication specialists, and compliance officers. This team should develop a response strategy to deploy instantly when needed.

The 5 main aspects of information security governance are information security strategy, policies and procedures, risk management, compliance and audit and, finally, incident management.

What Are the 4 Steps of Information Security Governance?

Information security governance consists of four main steps to strengthen an organization's defense. Organizations may change and expand on these as they see fit, but they should know the core four before making adjustments:

  1. Create a strategy. Identify the ways governance will affect your organization and define the main goals and objectives of information security governance. This should include a clear understanding of an organization's risk tolerance, resources, and legal requirements.
  2. Build the framework. IT governance requires more than just ideas on paper or ambitious policies. Professionals must also build a framework that will meet those needs. IT admins can simplify this by choosing a premade option and carefully configuring it or creating a customized solution from scratch.
  3. Test and implement the system. Development teams must also test the system to ensure it works correctly and meets all requirements. Once tested, the IT team can deploy the governance system across an organization's network and devices.
  4. Monitor and adjust. The final step is to monitor information security governance performance regularly and make necessary adjustments or improvements. This will help organizations maintain a secure and compliant environment.

What Are the Main Challenges and Threats for Information Security Governance?

An in-depth analysis is the best way to identify threats and challenges unique to your organization. Here are some of the most common ones you might uncover.


Human Factors

One Forbes article suggests that employees cause 85% of security breaches. Ensuring employees know their responsibilities and follow the organization's policies and procedures is a significant challenge. Another human factor is the difficulty of securing buy-in at all levels. Resistance from staff can seriously impede IT governance efforts.

Lack of Organizational Resources

A lack of capital and other resources can impede an organization's ability to manage its governance system effectively. Organizations should allocate sufficient funds for this task. Too often, companies treat information security governance as an afterthought, increasing the potential risk.

Insufficient Technology Capabilities 

Organizations need to prioritize the latest technologies, such as cloud computing or AI-based solutions, and ensure that their existing systems are up to date. Inadequate technological infrastructure can expose organizations to cyber threats such as malware attacks, phishing scams, and data breaches.

What Are the Benefits of Information Security Governance?

The advantages of a governance system vary based on your industry, the design of your system, and how well the IT team implemented it. Even so, here are some general benefits you can expect.

Improved Data Security

Organizations can better protect their sensitive information from unauthorized access, disclosure, or alteration by implementing well-defined policies. This includes using MFA and tiered access based on clearance levels within the organization.

Reduced Risk of Security Incidents

A robust information security governance framework helps to minimize the likelihood of security incidents, such as data breaches and cyberattacks. It’s not enough to just respond to incidents; IT admins must seek out proactive solutions.

Compliance with Regulations

Organizations must comply with various regulatory requirements and industry standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. Information security governance ensures compliance by establishing policies and processes that align with all applicable standards. You could also expand compliance to include the ability to comply with e-Discovery requests.

Improved Business Continuity

Can your organization continue to operate during natural disasters, cyberattacks, and other unexpected events? Create a plan to protect critical information assets and maintain essential functions during a crisis. This includes having backup and recovery procedures for data and strategies for managing incidents and restoring operations quickly.

Disaster Recovery

Fujifilm provides an excellent example of how information security governance can protect an organization. When hackers gained unauthorized access to the company, it reportedly refused to pay the ransom. Instead, it restored its system from backups and returned to normal operations. Could your team do the same? An effective recovery plan outlines the steps an organization will take to bounce back from a significant disaster that results in the loss of critical systems and data.

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How Can the Cloud Improve Your Plan?

Cloud migration can significantly streamline information security governance. For starters, some of the cybersecurity responsibilities get outsourced to the owner of the servers, such as Microsoft or Amazon. Using the cloud streamlines your IT governance with these features:

  1. Shared Responsibility Model: The cloud service provider is responsible for securing the underlying infrastructure and platform, while the organization is responsible for securing its applications and data. This division of responsibilities make many processes more efficient and manageable.
  2. Centralized Security Management: CSM makes it easy for organizations to maintain and monitor their security posture across all applications and services in the cloud. This centralization simplifies governance by consolidating security controls.
  3. Advanced Security Technologies: These higher-end capabilities can help organizations detect and respond to cyber threats more effectively. Automation can also reduce the risk of threats going undetected.
  4. Compliance Simplification: CSPs often have pre-built compliance frameworks and tools that align with regulatory requirements and industry standards, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. These providers may also offer e-Discovery solutions, such as Microsoft's Purdue.
  5. Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud-based solutions offer virtually limitless scalability and flexibility, allowing organizations to adapt their security infrastructure as their needs evolve. This is another way companies can adjust to unexpected events, such as plunging customer demand after an economic crash. Companies that cannot scale down will continue to pay high prices for services they cannot use.
  6. Enhanced Disaster Recovery: Cloud-based solutions provide organizations with access to sophisticated disaster recovery options. Automated backups, data redundancy, and failover systems are just some examples. These features minimize downtime and boost business continuity.

How Can Cloud Migration Specialists Help?

Our Cloudficient migration specialists streamline the process of upgrading to the cloud so that you can get these benefits and more for your organization. Now you know the answer to what is information security governance and you understand how the cloud helps. Are you ready to see that solution in action? Contact us for a consultation or to get your quote started.

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