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Beyond firewalls: Governance and tech

Jun 06,2024 - Last updated at Jun 06,2024

The tech industry thrives on the relentless pursuit of innovation. However, this rapid progress can sometimes come at a cost. Security breaches fuelled by insider threats — both accidental and malicious — can shatter user trust and expose sensitive data. Building a secure tech ecosystem requires a multipronged approach that goes beyond simply erecting firewalls.

One crucial piece of this intricate puzzle is a well-designed performance management system. By clearly aligning individual employee goals with the company’s broader objectives, these systems go beyond fostering a skilled workforce; they cultivate a sense of ownership and accountability. Employees who understand how their actions contribute to the larger vision are more likely to not only excel in their technical expertise but also adhere to security protocols and ethical guidelines. A robust performance management system wouldn’t just emphasise technical prowess; it would incorporate user privacy and data security as key performance indicators.

However, fortifying individual companies is just the first step on the path towards a truly secure tech ecosystem. Collaborative efforts across the industry are essential to build a collective defence. Governments can play a critical role by establishing clear and comprehensive regulatory frameworks. These frameworks should not only enforce data privacy and promote cybersecurity best practices, but also ensure transparency in the algorithms used by tech companies.

Data privacy laws, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and Jordanian PDPL, empower users by giving them control over their personal information. These regulations act as a shield, compelling companies to implement robust safeguards to protect user data. Similarly, standardised cybersecurity practices, including mandatory breach reporting and secure coding requirements, create a baseline level of protection across the entire industry.

Furthermore, legislation requiring algorithmic transparency can help identify and mitigate potential biases within these systems. By requiring companies to be transparent about how their algorithms work, regulators can create a more equitable and trustworthy tech environment. Algorithmic transparency would allow regulators and users to identify and address such biases, ensuring fair treatment for all.

One practical and effective security technique is Least Privilege Access Control (LPAC). This principle ensures that employees only have access to the data and tools absolutely necessary to perform their specific job duties. LPAC functions like giving employees the key to the specific section relevant to their work, not a master key granting access to the entire collection. This minimises the risk of unauthorised access to sensitive information and potential data breaches.

Data classification and security policies further strengthen this secure environment. By classifying data based on its sensitivity and implementing protocols like encryption, companies create a “secure garden” for their valuable information. Encryption acts as a protective layer, safeguarding sensitive data such as financial records or user passwords from unauthorised access or exfiltration. Data classification policies would categorise this information as highly sensitive, requiring robust encryption protocols to protect it.

Building a secure and trustworthy tech ecosystem requires a collaborative effort. Strong individual company governance, coupled with industry-wide initiatives and ongoing public education, fosters an environment where innovation can flourish alongside trust and security. By working together, the tech industry remains a fertile ground for progress, safeguarding users and creating a future where technology empowers, not endangers.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness within organisations is paramount. This can be achieved through regular training programmes that educate employees on best practices for handling sensitive data, identifying phishing attempts, and reporting suspicious activity. These sessions would equip employees with the knowledge and tools to recognise and prevent security threats, creating a more robust defence against cyberattacks.

In conclusion, building a secure tech ecosystem is a continuous journey that requires a collaborative effort from governments, industry leaders, individual companies and the public alike. By fostering a culture of trust, implementing strong governance practices, and promoting cybersecurity’ this collaborative effort will ensure a responsible and secure digital landscape.

Hamza Alakaleek is a corporate lawyer and tax attorney

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