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Digital Governance: Cybersecurity Policy in Context

Written by: University of Tulsa   •  Mar 22, 2024
A team of cybersecurity professionals review code on monitors.

Digital Governance: Cybersecurity Policy in Context

In the modern economy, almost everyone conducts personal and professional business online. Virtually boundless amounts of electronic data are being generated, stored, and exchanged. Though this data makes it easy to process transactions, keep records, and seek information, it must be subject to digital governance to keep people, businesses, and governments safe. 

Digital governance shapes the way that people and businesses use and access electronic data, and it plays a crucial role in the development of cybersecurity policy. An online Master of Science (M.S.) in Cyber Security can offer the knowledge and skills required to protect the systems that power the world. 

What’s Digital Governance?

The term “governance” refers to overseeing or directing an entity, such as an organization or a government. Digital governance, then, refers to the oversight and direction of a company’s or an agency’s digital services. It’s a set of strategies that an organization uses to manage its content in a digital landscape. 

Several activities fall under the digital governance umbrella, including the processes and policies established to manage or control how digital technologies are used. It requires companies to think about how technology impacts them, so they can make better, more informed decisions. 

3 Functions of Digital Governance

According to, a website from the U.S. General Services Administration that offers training and support to individuals who provide digital services, digital governance serves three primary functions in any organization or government: establishing clear rules for operation, defining the lines of authority and their responsibilities, and creating policies and procedures to ensure that the rules are heeded. 

Establishing Clear Rules

Clear rules surrounding strategy, policies, and standards are vital for successful digital governance. These rules should clarify the organization’s objectives, and they should outline decision-making processes. Effective metrics connected to these rules provide a way to measure their efficacy, and regular audits can pinpoint areas of weakness. 

Defining Lines of Authority

Defining lines of authority involves determining who’s responsible for managing and operating websites or other digital services. Each person or group in an authority position must also have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, and they must always be kept up to date on any changes to rules, policies, and procedures.

Implementing Policies and Procedures to Ensure Adherence to Rules

Those responsible for an organization’s digital governance should create clear policies and procedures to ensure that others — including volunteers, employees, or users accessing websites — adhere to them at all times. These policies and procedures must also comply with regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) where applicable. 

8 Pillars of Digital Governance and Why They Matter

Successful digital governance comprises eight pillars, according to DataGalaxy, a provider of data knowledge and resources. Each of these pillars is essential for building a framework that establishes good controls, policies, and procedures that suit an organization’s needs. 

1. Governance Strategy and Objectives

Each organization must determine its own vision for a digital governance policy and create the objectives to achieve that vision. These objectives should align with desired outcomes, and examples of outcomes may include improving cybersecurity or implementing artificial intelligence (AI) ethically. This strategy serves as the blueprint for implementing digital governance in a way that works best for the organization. 

2. Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly defining the roles and their responsibilities as they apply to digital governance ensures that rules, policies, procedures, and practices are implemented effectively. Furthermore, clarification can facilitate accountability. When roles and responsibilities are clear, people and groups feel more empowered to take ownership in the wake of a data breach, a failure to implement a policy, or unethical activity within an organization. 

3. Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures carefully and thoroughly outline the various guidelines, standards, and rules that manage an organization’s digital presence. Cybersecurity policy and data quality requirements are excellent examples of policies and rules. A procedure is a step-by-step process for handling an event, such as a set of actions for responding to a data breach. 

4. Data Quality

Data quality can be described as the consistency, timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of data. It’s considered one of the most important pillars of successful digital governance because dependable data improves decision-making capabilities, decreases risk, and facilitates consistent results during analytics and measurements. Some of the processes used to create and maintain data quality may include data cleansing, validation, and monitoring. 

5. Data Security and Privacy

Protecting sensitive information is vital to the success of any digital governance framework. Organizations must adhere to federal and state regulations, and they must also implement cybersecurity policy that’s designed to enhance privacy and mitigate risk. 

6. Communication and Training

Because the digital world is always evolving, a good governance framework must also include communication, collaboration, and ongoing training. When all employees have up-to-date education regarding the organization’s best practices and their individual roles and responsibilities, they’re empowered to comply. 

7. Measuring and Auditing

Organizations should establish metrics to help them measure the effectiveness of the procedures and rules that are in place. Examples of important metrics are measuring the level of compliance organization-wide or developing ways to score data quality over time. Regular audits and monitoring facilitate better and more informed decisions. 

8. Ongoing Improvement

Digital governance frameworks must be rigid in practice, but flexible in theory. Over time, as state or federal regulations change or as the needs of the organization change, the entire framework should be updated as required. 

Influence Digital Governance and the Cybersecurity Policy Decisions of the Future

As digital technology evolves, it expands the scope of opportunities to exchange ideas, knowledge, and data. At the same time, it opens the door for cybercrime and ethical concerns that can directly and negatively impact these exchanges. 

An online M.S. in Cyber Security from The University of Tulsa can help you learn to safeguard the systems that drive the world. Learn more about how you can influence individual, business, national, or global security by developing the digital governance frameworks of the future. 

Recommended Readings

How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

IT vs. Cybersecurity: How Are They Different?

What’s Cybersecurity Compliance?


Center for Strategic and International Studies, “Global Digital Governance: Here’s What You Need to Know”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Cybersecurity Governance

DataGalaxy, 8 Pillars of a Successful Data Governance Framework, An Introduction to Digital Governance

The Digital Fury, “A Complete Guide to Digital Governance — What You Should Know”

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