In today’s technological world, every business must have an information security program in order to protect their assets. Whether you have a small business or a global enterprise, it’s something that cannot be ignored or undervalued. Quite frankly, your software applications will be targeted by intruders, it’s a matter of time if it hasn’t happened already. Having an information security program is a way to ensure everyone’s on the same page as you assess and mitigate associated risks. The process of developing an information security program will also reveal areas of concern and provide an opportunity to implement appropriate solutions.

Your data is one of the most important assets owned by your business, which is why data management is an area that requires compliance with various laws and regulations. For instance, retailers must comply with different laws pertaining to the debit and credit card data of their customers. Failure to satisfy requirements not only comprises customer information, but there are steep penalties when a business is found to be out of compliance.

It’s not just credit card information that must be protected. There’s also employee information, financial records, product information, patents and a wide variety of confidential documents that should remain under lock and key within various applications. There are also legal liabilities associated with a failure to comply with data security laws, not to mention the fact that a data breach can negatively impact a brand as a result of the negative attention that it often garners in the media. There are many examples of retailers that have suffered the consequences of a data breach, to the dismay of their customers.

On the flip side, implementing an information security program will demonstrate your due diligence and possibly minimize the effect of an attempted breach. But that requires a program that’s comprehensive and consistently managed by knowledgeable professionals. For example, an effective program will provide guidance to all stakeholders on how to maximize security and respond if a breach occurs. It also provides a schedule for ongoing security assessments. The initial phase of implementing a security program often requires that you appoint a security officer who is responsible for enforcing practices, protocols and standards across the organization. You can use a vulnerability assessment template to develop a report after the initial assessment is complete.

In addition to having an information security program, it’s important that every employee understands and adheres to the requirements. Given the advanced techniques used to compromise application security for malicious reasons, policy compliance by all authorized system users is critical. Many companies choose to provide security awareness training to make sure everyone’s on the same page. A key aspect of an information security program is having a business continuity plan so that you know how to respond in the event of a breach, no matter how large or small. An effective business continuity plan will include a clear strategy for how your business will recovery from a security breach, a natural disaster and anything else that has the potential to compromise your data.