06 Oct Data Security and Protection
There is a quote that you must’ve heard “data is the new oil”.
If you think about it carefully, it is actually true. Data forms the basis of all business transactions in the 21st century Almost all this data is stored digitally. As a result, business leaders are always on the lookout to source more data and mine it for unique business insights
Sadly, so do hackers and similar malicious agents who seek to upend the normal order in which the digital world operates. These criminals are always on the lookout for new ways of hacking into data stores. Any such security breach can result in uncountable losses for a business.
So, how can a business protect against data breaches? What are the data security principles that an organisation should follow to ensure data privacy and compliance? These are some of the topics that we are going to explore in the following discussion.
But before getting into the meat of the matter, it is necessary to understand what a data breach actually is. Doing so can go a long way to ensuring data security and maintaining adequate data safety protocols.
What Is A Data Breach?
Put simply, a data breach is any illegal intrusion or access to private data. Such data may be financial information, patient health information, social media content and more. In any instance, confidential and potentially sensitive information is accessed without proper authorisation.
Breaches are usually the result of cyber-attacks such as ransomware, phishing, and similar tactics. Any level of a data breach can result in a massive financial and reputational loss for the targeted organisation.
If the latest statistics are anything to go by, then more than 3.2 million records were compromised in the top ten data breaches of 2020 to date. This really hits home the massive prevalence of data compromise in the 21st century.
The Importance of Data Security
The above figures themselves are evidence enough that data breaches are a clear and present threat to information, specifically financially relevant information. As a result, businesses everywhere are putting more and more emphasis on data security every day.
Without going into cryptic jargon, it suffices to say that data security is the use of principles, practices, and measures to safeguard digital (and even non-digital) data. Data security measures aim to protect against data compromise and work to detect and remediate any security breaches. Using proper data security principles, organisations can ensure the safety and authenticity of their data stores.
Apart from businesses, data security is of immense importance to individuals as well. In the digital world, we live in, aspects of our lives are available as digital data. Any corruption, steal, or loss of such data can wreak havoc on us personally. As a result, it is important to maintain proper digital practices to mitigate the risk of compromised data.
The following are some of the many reasons why enhanced focus on data security and protection is essential in 2020 and beyond:
- Data breaches can negatively affect business reputation
- They can result in loss of sensitive and business-critical information
- Loss of customer data can harm revenues, affecting the bottom line
- They can invite inspection from compliance authorities and even penalties
- Data breaches can invite the need to reinvest and reinvent the entire IT system of an organisation
- They can result in personal losses such as identity theft
The above is not an exhaustive list of the effects of a data breach. Experts agree that the real impact of a data breach cannot be measured quantitatively alone. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to secure data using both technological as well as human intervention.
Securing data against breaches
Prevention is always better than cure, and it is best if businesses take the proactive route to data protection. There are many methods to secure data. Some of them are as below.
Disk Level Encryption
This method involves encrypting or scrambling the data stored on disk so that it cannot be read by anyone except the authorised person(s). Encryption is a mathematical concept that applies complex conversions to ensure data protection. This can be achieved through software as well as hardware means and can be a good line of defense against a security breach.
A firewall is any hardware and/or software-based barrier that screens all data going in and out of an organisation’s internal network. A strong firewall can help to prevent unauthorised access and protect data against breaches. Firewall is the crucial element for any organisation as on the outbound side, it is used to prevent employees from sending certain types of emails or transmitting sensitive data outside of the network. On the inbound side, they can be programmed to restrict access to certain websites (like social networking sites).
This is one of the tried-and-tested methods of data protection. Keeping multiple copies of your data can help to retain access to the information and continue operations, even when there is a breach in one data store. Backups are a clean solution that can help you retrieve lost information in the case of a data compromise. It is also a safeguarding measure in the event of ransomware attacks.
Strong Access Rules
Often, in an organisation, careless practices such as weak passwords and lack of regular updates can compromise systems. Therefore, it is essential that there exists a strong security policy governing data access. Strong passwords, regular access logging and proper physical barriers to access can all help establish a culture of security.
All the above practices, combined with others, can help ensure solid data protection and a compliant environment.
Data security and protection is never a one size fits all solution. Cyber criminals are relentless, and so should be those working to safeguard data. There is no guarantee of digital data security without a culture of constant surveillance.
With regular monitoring, measures such as security audits, and penetration testing, the risk of attacks and data compromise can be mitigated. Also, the advent of AI and automation has made things simpler for security professionals. In the near future, one can hope that data compromise will become a thing of the past.