Data is at the Heart of Performance Marketing―So is Data Security

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About the Author

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John Murray

John oversees IWCO Information Technology (IT) Department, encouraging and empowering our IT teams to develop and deliver creative, optimized business systems designed to be highly available, yet appropriately secured.

This proud US Coast Guard veteran says the best part of his more than 15 years with IWCO is being surrounded by great talent who dream big and work hard. He holds a BS in Information Security Management from the University of Phoenix, Seattle.

Leveraging data analytics to predict and fulfill campaign success is at the heart of performance marketing. The data that drives these campaigns is a powerful tool and it is more important than ever to protect it. At IWCO Direct, we use multiple security controls and frameworks to guide our data security practices.

Our Security Controls Leverage the Defense in Depth Model

For many years, the Defense in Depth model has been used as a foundation of Information Security. The concept relies on an organization’s ability to provide redundant layers of security controls to protect sensitive systems and data, so in case one layer fails, there are others that are still protecting. However, in 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published their NIST Cybersecurity Framework that defines categories to help us think differently about data and find better ways to protect it.

The categories Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover make up the framework and together allow organizations a strategic view of their security activities and risks. While every organization is unique in how they apply specific security controls in these categories, I will share a few ways IWCO Direct uses this framework to protect our Intellectual Property and Customer Data.

Identify – Develop organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk.

As an important first step, all organizations must identify and understand business assets, resources, governance needs, and risks to sensitive data.

IWCO Direct performs regular internal and external penetration testing along with weekly vulnerability scanning to help identify potential risks to our systems. Additionally, we maintain diverse regulatory compliances (i.e., HITRUST, ISO-27001, PCI, SOC2, and SOX) that each bring a unique set of security controls that are regularly tested. We also perform regular risk assessments to understand the relationship between business, data, assets, and risks. Finally, we conduct staff training multiple times per year to bring a better security awareness, and focus on different risks to our organization.

Protect – Develop the appropriate safeguards to ensure delivery of critical services.

Controls in the Protect category help organizations prevent theft of data or contain a breach to prevent additional impacts.

Our training focus also helps us protect data. Once employees are trained, they are better prepared to identify a threat like a Phishing attack and help protect from it. That said, IWCO Direct has invested in several layers of protections (Defense in Depth), e.g., Next Generation Firewalls, to protect the perimeter as well as sensitive internal systems. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) delivers continuous endpoint visibility and protections. We use data leak prevention (DLP) tools, wired and wireless network access control (NAC), and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to keep unauthorized individuals or systems off our network. Lastly, we encrypt sensitive data to render it unusable to unauthorized individuals.

Detect – Develop appropriate activities to identify the occurrence of a cybersecurity event.

Controls in the Detect category help organizations with timely discovery of security events. It is important to be able to detect an issue as soon as possible, so security professionals can respond quickly.

The implementation of a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system allows for continuous monitoring, investigation of system logs, and alerting on suspicious activity. SIEM log correlation and analysis uses advanced machine algorithms to help detect anomalous behaviors and patterns, allowing IT personnel to rapidly investigate and respond to potential incidents and stop them from escalating into more impactful events. Integrity Monitoring (IM) is utilized to compare system baseline configurations, and notify staff when irregularities are detected.

Respond – Take appropriate actions regarding a detected cybersecurity incident.

Controls in the Response category help support an organization’s ability to contain the impact of a security incident.

IWCO Direct has created a Security Incident Response Team (SIRT), and utilizes a 24/7/365 Help Desk, to notify the team any time an incident may be detected. Our SIRT follows industry-standard incident handling procedures and will extend the team to outsourced cybersecurity professionals if needed. The SIRT performs regular testing and training to ensure the team is prepared for any foreseen or unforeseen scenarios.

Recover – Implement developed resiliency plans of systems and services impaired due to a cybersecurity incident.

Controls in the Recovery category help support an organization’s ability to limit the impact of a security incident, to quickly recover, and get back to normal operating performance.

At IWCO Direct, we have invested in multiple layers of backup to help ensure the integrity and optimization of any required recovery. Recovery objectives (RTO/RPO) are documented, managed, and tested regularly. Additionally, resiliency plans (BC/DR) are managed and tested throughout the year to ensure efficient recovery and maximized system availability.

It is becoming clearer that data is more important than ever to help drive an effective marketing campaign, and having the proper security controls to protect that data has never been more critical. Want to learn more about how IWCO Direct safeguards your marketing data? Contact me.

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