The value of data is evident to organizations of all sizes, especially in formulating more robust strategies to attract and retain customers. Nevertheless, if it falls into the wrong hands, it can have disastrous results. Many large companies entrusted with our data have experienced data breaches in recent years. Keeping your organization’s data secure will prevent financial repercussions from lowered consumer confidence.
What is Data Security
Data security is a set of processes and practices for protecting your company’s information technology ecosystem from manipulation and unauthorized access during its entire lifespan. It encompasses files, databases, accounts, and networks. A data security program uses controls, applications, and techniques that determine the value of different datasets and apply the appropriate security measures.
There are many ways to evaluate threats and reduce the risks associated with data storage and handling. Still, data security is among the most important ones for keeping hackers at bay. To address data security effectively, we must consider the sensitive nature of different datasets and regulatory compliance requirements.
The Importance of Data Security
A hacking forum for amateurs published 530 million Facebook user records in 2021. According to Facebook, the hackers scraped data by exploiting an old feature on the platform that enabled users to locate one another by searching for their phone numbers to scrape the data.
According to the IBM and Ponemon 2021 report, the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, up 10% from 2020. The report also marks the highest data breach costs ever tracked by IBM and Ponemon.
Millions of dollars can be spent on class-action lawsuits and victim settlements when breaches occur. In addition, courts place a high value on personal data, so companies need to invest in data security.
Data Security Types
Outlining an effective strategy for data security requires consideration of many different aspects. Here, we’ll discuss various types of data security and how they can enhance the security of your business’ valuable data, including customer information and intellectual property.
Accessing certain types of data requires that an authorized user prove their identity or authenticate their identity. A username and password is the most basic form of authentication. In addition to biometrics, one of the multi-factor authentication methods is retinal scanning and fingerprint scanning.
Your firewall may restrict the IP addresses that can access your application or control the ports your application uses to communicate with a server. A well-configured firewall can prevent malware from spreading.
Among the methods for securing data are restricting access to critical systems and data both physically and digitally. It also means securing all computers and devices with mandatory login entries and ensuring that only authorized personnel can enter physical spaces.
Backups & Recovery
An adequate data security plan must include a plan to secure access to data in case of system failure, disaster, corruption, or breach. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your data on different media, such as a physical disk, local network, or the cloud, just in case.
Regularly dispose of old data properly. Data erasure is a method of overwriting entire storage devices with software and is more secure than standard data wiping. However, when data is erased, it becomes unrecoverable, so others can’t recover it.
By encrypting data, you transform it into a form that those with the encryption key will only access. These days, many large cloud providers use encryption-at-rest by default.
Essentially, tokenizing is the process of transforming sensitive information (like your Social Security number) into a random string of characters. Using tokenized security helps protect data from being stolen since a hacker cannot guess the meaning of the data. Tokens can also be used by anyone with access in real-time in place of the protected information. Therefore, authorized users can access tokenized data without any delay.
Key Elements of Data Security
The three critical elements of data security that every organization should adhere to are Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Below is a breakdown of what each core element means when protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access and data leaks.
- Confidentiality: Access to data is restricted to authorized users with the appropriate credentials.
- Integrity: You must make sure all information stored is accurate, reliable, and cannot be altered unnecessarily.
- Availability: Make sure that data is readily and securely available and obtainable to support business operations.
Guidelines for Ensuring Data Security
Data security cannot be guaranteed 100 percent by any means. However, the good news is that several tactics, strategies, and best practices can significantly reduce the likelihood of a data breach, loss, and exposure.
Threats From Within
When companies develop a data security strategy, they often overlook the human factor — or insider threat. Unfortunately, unless businesses take action, they are exposed to breaches initiated by an insider, whether malicious or accidental. Instead, firms should adopt best practices that combine protection with prevention to fight this trend, so the right person receives the right kind of communication.
Users can also abuse social media sites as another vector for infecting enterprises with malware. For example, hackers will exploit users searching for “cheat codes” to access third-party applications, such as Facebook games, for free.
Trojans can be hidden in cheat codes and enable a destructive actor to control a device, install ransomware, activate the camera or microphone, or record keystrokes to steal passwords. Among the many enterprise social media risks, third-party applications are the most significant.
Maintaining Good Password Hygiene.
Passwords are an obvious chink in an organization’s data security armour, as they are an open vulnerability.
Increasing password length isn’t the solution. Instead, they must be more complex or used in conjunction with biometrics, tokens, or other means of authentication. To ease the burden of remembering endless sign-on, one can deploy enterprise password managers, which provide users with a single place to store their encrypted passwords for multiple applications.
Be Prepared For Cyber Threats.
Thinking ahead is the key to good data security. It’s crucial to develop policies that address the threats you face today and in the future. This includes insider threats as well as external hackers. You should also employ software that monitors and alerts you to suspicious activity beyond your policy.
In handling sensitive data, businesses need to rely on experts for data security. However, don’t forget that improved data security does not happen overnight and should not be treated as something you only do once.
Your company and your user data will benefit from prioritizing the most critical efforts for security and continually reviewing your security strategy. Have trouble getting started? Consult our security experts at firewall technical.