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The Role Of Data Retention Policies In Cybersecurity Preparedness

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This post reveals the role of data retention policies in cybersecurity preparedness in a corporate environment.

The scenarios in which company data gets compromised due to cybersecurity breaches have been expected since the advent of cloud computing, perhaps even the internet. This ubiquitous issue spans almost all industries and niches, regardless of the company size.

Numerous businesses are losing critical data and even going under due to data theft induced by cybersecurity flaws they are often unaware of.

These cyberattacks, on the other hand, have also managed to raise awareness in terms of how vulnerable company data, as well as IT infrastructures, can be. The shift in the mindset towards improving cybersecurity has been a slow but sure one. However, numerous businesses across the globe still tend to undermine the importance of having a solid security strategy in place.

These organizations must recalibrate their priorities and bring their data security policies to adequate levels. Otherwise, they are unlikely to recover should the worst-case cybersecurity scenario strike. 

This brings us to the main topic of this article – data retention policies as one of the main components of a proper and effective cybersecurity strategy.

As each business processes and stores its share of critical (and less critical) data, company secrets, financial records, employee information, and client-based data, ensuring these pieces of information are adequately stored, secured, retained, and accessible should be among your top priorities. 

READ ALSO: Identity Protection Guide: Safeguarding Your Personal Data

Why Having an Effective Data Retention Policy Matters?

Why Having an Effective Data Retention Policy Matters

Perhaps this issue is something we humans cannot quickly shake off ever since we were mere hunter-gatherers, but our tendency to hoard things is still quite present. The process is the same whether it is old physical stuff or data. However, the potential repercussions of a business hoarding insignificant data and not protecting it appropriately can be far-reaching. 

Regarding cybersecurity, the more critical data a company manages, processes, and retains, the higher the chances of losing this information. This can lead to severe damages and costs, in terms of both finance and business reputation. 

Of course, not all data is made and deemed equal, which means that some data types will require longer retention and higher levels of security. Also, specific data privacy laws (including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the New York Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity Requirements, etc) require businesses to keep certain data pieces stored for as long as necessary. 

Of course, there are companies to which these privacy laws do not apply. However, having a functional data retention policy in place has multiple practical, legal, security-related, and cost-related benefits. For example, your data storage and litigation costs during the discovery process will be optimized as any “excess data” is mitigated, making the data retrieval process faster and your data storage cost-effective.¬†

Security is perhaps the main benefit here. Every company should make sure that all the necessary measures to obviate cyber breaches have been taken. Implementing data retention policies also ensures that, should a breach occur, the damage caused to your resources and business reputation is as low as possible so you can bounce back fairly quickly. 

READ ALSO: Essential Cyber Security Plan for Small Business

Things To Consider When Creating a Data Retention Policy 

Things To Consider When Creating Data Retention Policy 

This strategy should include incident management, incident response planning, training, strategy testing, and proper data classification, as your organization doesn't retain all the data it stores. From the legal standpoint, this last notion is quite essential as not all information your organization collects falls under legal retention requirements.

Similarly, not all types of data should be retained simultaneously. The law requires Certain information and records to be retained longer (think medical records, data subject to a legal hold, etc.). This is where data and email retention policies come into play as these practices help you:

  • Help you reach high data security levels¬†
  • Reach compliance preparedness in terms of potential legal issues (which could quite literally save your company from going under)
  • Optimize costs in terms of storing and managing data, as well as various communication channels¬†

Once you have an optimal and functional policy prepared, your organization must find a way to implement it most effectively. That way, you will be sure that your data retention is deleting and destroying data pieces by all compliance rules and regulations.

Data Retention Policies: Building a Cybersecurity Fortress – Your FAQs Answered

Data retention policies play a crucial role in an organization's security preparedness. Here are some common questions to shed light on their importance:

What is a data retention policy in cybersecurity?

A data retention policy outlines how long an organization stores specific types of data and the procedures for its disposal. This policy ensures sensitive information is retained for a necessary period for legal, compliance, or operational reasons while also ensuring its responsible disposal when no longer needed.

Why do we need a data retention policy?

Here are some key reasons:

  • Security: Data retention policies help minimize the risk of data breaches by dictating how long sensitive data is stored. Less data to store translates to less data to compromise potentially.
  • Compliance: Many regulations require organizations to retain data for specific periods. The policy ensures adherence to these regulations.
  • Legal Issues: Data retention can be crucial for legal proceedings or investigations. The policy ensures relevant data is readily available if needed.
  • Efficiency and Cost Management: Storing unnecessary data can be expensive and impact storage capacity. The policy helps streamline data storage practices.

What is a data retention schedule?

A data retention schedule specifies the duration for which different data types must be kept. For instance, financial records might need to be retained for seven years, while website visitor logs might only require a few months.

What is the scope of a data retention policy?

The policy should encompass all data collected and stored by the organization, including electronic documents, emails, customer information, financial records, and security logs.

What is the data retention process?

The data retention process involves:

  • Classification: Categorizing data based on its sensitivity and regulatory requirements.
  • Scheduling: Determining the appropriate retention period for each data type.
  • Storage: Implementing secure storage solutions for the data.
  • Disposal: Establishing procedures for securely erasing or archiving data when its retention period expires.

How do you ensure data retention?

  • Automation: Implementing automated data archiving and deletion processes can streamline compliance.
  • Employee Training: Educating employees about the data retention policy is crucial for successful implementation.
  • Regular Audits: Conducting periodic audits ensures the policy is followed and data is managed according to regulations.

By establishing a well-defined data retention policy and adhering to its guidelines, organizations can strengthen their cybersecurity posture and navigate the complexities of data management effectively.

Summary: Changing the Mindset Towards Data Retention

Although the issue of cybersecurity is omnipresent, especially within the modern digital landscape, there are still many companies that do not take data protection too seriously and fail to see it as one of the critical aspects of maintaining business growth.

The numbers back these claims up as 9 out of 10 companies fail to recover after they’ve suffered cyber-attacks fully. 

This is why businesses need to have an all-encompassing approach to developing robust cybersecurity strategies, a considerable part of which is data retention.


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About the Author:

Editor at SecureBlitz | Website | + posts

Christian Schmitz is a professional journalist and editor at SecureBlitz.com. He has a keen eye for the ever-changing cybersecurity industry and is passionate about spreading awareness of the industry's latest trends. Before joining SecureBlitz, Christian worked as a journalist for a local community newspaper in Nuremberg. Through his years of experience, Christian has developed a sharp eye for detail, an acute understanding of the cybersecurity industry, and an unwavering commitment to delivering accurate and up-to-date information.

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