In an increasingly digital world, businesses are faced with the dual challenges of navigating the complexity of cybersecurity best practices alongside a growing body of data privacy and governance legislation.

Both these areas hinge on understanding and managing data better, including who can access and manipulate it and how and where it is stored, writes Ryan Boyes, governance, risk and compliance officer at Galix.

However, for most businesses, the skills and time required to do this effectively are in short supply. Partnering with a reputable and experienced third-party expert can help organisations identify potential vulnerabilities, implement robust security measures, and ensure ongoing compliance with relevant laws and standards.

By leveraging the knowledge and experience of a dedicated outsourced professional, businesses can focus on their core operations while safeguarding their most valuable asset: their data.

Scarce skills in short supply

As with many areas when it comes to technology, the skills surrounding cybersecurity, and data governance and compliance are scarce, which means hiring a resource in-house is often not a feasible solution for most businesses.

Outsourcing can be more cost-effective than maintaining an in-house team, especially for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that may not have the resources internally.

To safeguard data effectively, you need an expert, and an outsourced partner will have a broader and deeper skill base to draw on, bringing the benefits of this exposure and experience with them to build a comprehensive cybersecurity infrastructure.

Outsourced partners also use advanced tools and technologies for threat detection, prevention, and response, which can significantly enhance your security posture. They will also make use of continuous monitoring and proactive threat management to help in quickly identifying and mitigating potential security and compliance breaches.

In addition, a third-party expert will bring an outside opinion, which can often help businesses see different angles to the problem. They will also ensure they are well-versed in the latest industry standards and regulations, which means that businesses will always stay ahead of compliance requirements and cybersecurity trends.

Navigating the complex regulatory landscape

Regulations like the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) can be challenging for businesses to comply with, as they are open to interpretation, and the requirements for compliance may differ between organisations. This can also make it difficult for businesses to understand where the gaps are and what they need to do to maintain effective security and compliance.

An outsourced partner can assist by performing an analysis of the current maturity level and gaps, and then, based on where you are currently and where you need to be, create a roadmap to get there.

The reality is that there will always be a level of risk, but effective management of risk relies on understanding this and then knowing what can and should be mitigated and what risk can and should be accepted. Once again, an expert partner can be hugely beneficial, as the entire process can become complex and internal people may not be able to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.

Having an external provider creates a more unbiased mechanism to objectively assess the risk and understand, mitigate, and accept it. Your partner can also assist with implementing appropriate systems and then ensure that the process becomes one of continual improvement and awareness.

Finding the right partner

There are always potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with third-party access to sensitive data, which means that it is critical to find a reputable, knowledgeable, and experienced partner. In addition, it has become imperative to have a Data Protection Agreement (DPA) in place that governs what the third party can do with the data, what systems are being used, how they can access and process the data, and so on.

It is also essential to have management buy-in and ensure your partner aligns with international standards and best practices around both cybersecurity and compliance to ensure that you can maximise productivity and efficiency while improving security posture and compliance.