Best practices for data security report writing

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For the concerned executives, targeted, and concise reports command significant attention. As such, it is essential to be familiar with the best practices for data security report writing. But how do you write a useful report? And what security report writing practices can you use to promote effective reporting?

To help you out, here are the best practices for security report writing. These practices will not only afford the essential information needed by executives but also highlight the intelligence which you want the executives to see. However, before that, it is important to get an understanding of what information security means.

Typically, information security represents the practice of averting and stopping access, disclosure, use, modification, disruption, destruction or recording of information by unauthorized parties.

Best Practices for Security Report Writing:

1. Risk Lifecycle Alignment

Prior to formulating reports, you must initially identify where your projects or organization is within the risk lifecycle. Exposure change and risk often change with the maturity of IT projects and security programs. Ideally, the risk increases significantly as organizations and projects move through tactical, strategic, as well as operational phases.

Typically, the reasons are rather simple. In the planning stage, your risk is minimal because the systems are not exposed to harsh environments. Nonetheless, there is still some degree of risk since the strategic stage is where you can not only predict future threats but also infuse security into systems and processes while they are under development.

Similarly, the risk becomes dominant in the operational phases, mainly where systems are susceptible to constant external and internal threats, misuses, and abuses.

A proper understanding of your business's risk lifecycle is vital for getting a lingua franca and presentation framework for security reports. While you might not realize it, you and your executives have similar understandings of everything that happens in tactical, operational, and strategic phases.

  • Strategic: Typically, it is in this stage where procedures and policies which direct the support and inclusion of the security through the lifecycle of a project get developed.
  • Tactical: It is here that you guarantee that the security is built into processes, procedures, and applications. Here, while the risk is probable, it is not an issue since the project managers are making decisions on applications, environments, and platforms. Every decision impacts the risk profile.
  • Operational: Usually, this stage is made up of two categories, mainly:

Infosecurity: This represents everyday tasks that maintain the security posture of an organization and reduce risk. These include maintenance of IDS signatures, revision of firewall rule sets management of cryptographic keys and tokens for secure remote access.

Active security posture: this represents a response to various external threats like worms, viruses, and intrusions. Also, recovery from several security incidents like the rebuilding of file servers after worm infections is part of this.

In the operational stage, the risks are rather high, although they vary depending on various internal controls like security scheme depth and presence of different security solutions like malware outbreaks. Usually, in this stage, security managers have to measure the efficiency of their previous efforts and subsequently forecast what's essential to enhance and maintain their security posture.

2. Measured Reports

Ideally, corporate executives want information presented to them in easily digestible portions to allow them to quickly identify what requires attention. On identifying the problematic areas, they will look for additional information to better understand and assess a concern.

If you want to report the compliance of a firm with security measures like ISO 17799, your report should be from a strategic perspective. Likewise, your report would take an operational perspective if you are giving an after-action report regarding a virus infection.

What's more, a detailed security report which bridges the three stages is usable in demonstrating how ongoing security shortcomings and initiatives are influencing later project phases or any current operations. In such an instance, you must present two corresponding report types-activities and assessments.

Assessments reports usually provide the answer to 'Are we secure?' question. These reports are to highlight the main issues that require the attention of the executives-with, merely the proper amount of information.

As such, when writing this report, you should ensure it is short and straightforward. If you are not sure about how to write this report correctly, you can always consult a custom writing service by undertaking a custom writing sign in process and getting a writer to help you with your report writing or utilize distinct report software.

You can utilize pithy descriptions in identifying topics as well as concise and clear explanations in describing their status. In fact, the best approach is limiting your explanations to between two and three bullet points.

One excellent approach you can use in guiding your executives through your report is by color-coding. Typically, the most convenient method is the classic traffic light. In this method, red highlights the problem (meaning action is needed); yellow to highlight concerns (meaning monitoring and improvement is necessary) as well as green to highlight satisfactory results (meaning no intervention by executives is needed).

The activity report demonstrates what the assessment report contains. In essence, if an executive identifies an item marked red, they can consult with the activity report, and comprehensively see what you are doing in efforts to correct or improve a problem as well as the necessary resources for getting the job done.

Additionally, activity reports can also be where you boast about your accomplishments not to mention where you offer explanations and metrics about areas that require improvement. Usually, you can discuss the total viruses stopped, detected, and patched vulnerabilities, among others.

You can also highlight routine tasks that your security department carries out like tokens issues and passwords reset, among others. This highlights the security program value and offers tangible evidence of investment return, particularly if the information is tied to earlier cost assessments for security incidents and threats.

3. Trending Reports

Periodic trending reports are created by extrapolating information from the activity and assessment reports across numerous departments and projects. They help you identify various trends that can highlight surging security issues as well as forecast potential security concerns. With these reports, you can identify the progress you and your supervisor have made in solving problems and enhancing your security posture.

Aside from passing information to your bosses, trends and statistics can be used in making adjustments to your procedures and policies.

What's more, trend reports are useful since they can assist managers in setting priorities and optimizing the allocation of resources by concentrating on the network areas which have the maximum vulnerabilities and ideally present the most significant business risks.

Final Word

In the end, frameworks and practices like the ones outlined are just guidelines for organizing and subsequently presenting security information. It is vital to recognize the cultures, priorities, and goals of your business and subsequently line up your security thinking as well as reporting to them.

Irrespective of these variances, understanding data, and risk, as well as being able to consolidate security reports into easily comprehensible intelligence, ideally works well in effectively influencing, informing, and educating decision-making executives.

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