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What is Data Security?

  • Yamini
  • Dec 18, 2021
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About Data Security


According to IBM, 75% of customers surveyed content that they will not purchase from companies they don’t trust to protect their data.


Data security is protecting digital information from being accessed, corrupted or stolen by unauthorized sources at any point of time. It includes the complete life cycle of the data in question as well as the organizational regulations, standards and processes.


It is rather a tough task to maintain the safety of data encompassing hardware components to the key software systems. At times, even all the data security practices and technologies combined, fail to keep data secure from attacks that can encrypt, corrupt or destroy data, such as targeted ransomware


Therefore, Information technology and information security teams need to be on their toes to constantly keep a strict check over their data security strategies and solutions. They need to consistently stay tuned with the latest data security updates and technologies that can enhance their data security strategies at a low cost. 


Right from the physical safety of hardware devices to the access controls and logical security of software systems, data security is undoubtedly a broad concept. 


Any organization needs to maintain strict control over their data security strategies and solutions in order to protect their information assets against potential cyber threats or data breaches. 


Tools and applications need to be utilized by an organization to better know about their usage of critical data.  Encryption, data masking and automated reporting prove to be an aid to businesses in regulating control over their data and eliminating insider threats and human error. 


Large amounts of data, complexities of data storage and remote servers have contributed to making computing environments altogether more complex and difficult to monitor and keep secure from cyber attacks than it was ever before.


As data privacy issues are on the rise, organizations are paying unprecedented attention to comply with the existing data protection provisions and regulations. On the part of customers, data privacy is gaining momentum. 


(Recommended blog: Attack Surface Management


Risks to data security


Large or small organizations alike face these usual risks and issues while dealing with sensitive and vital information.


  1. Negligence or accidental exposure 


Often, intentionally or unintentionally, employees and trainees share, lose or allow permits to sensitive data.


Mostly this happens either owing to the unawareness regarding data security policies and protocols or by accident. This has led to a large number of data breaches in the past. 

A number of ways exist to alleviate the catastrophic effects a data breach can cause over an organization, however more specifically specialized training to the employees and potential trainees needs to be taken care of. Data loss prevention and data resiliency can also come to rescue in case of a Data leak. 


  1. Social engineering attacks like Phishing 


Nowadays it is being witnessed that attackers manipulate and often trick individuals into giving away sensitive information like passwords and other login credentials. 


Phishing includes sending synthetic messages that appear to be lucrative and trustworthy but are sent from unauthorized sources, mostly to access or steal important information.


Clicking on a malicious link might seem harmless but it has caused devastating data breaches for individuals and organizations. Using these malicious links or after gaining access to sensitive information attackers can easily compromise data for their benefit. 


  1. Employees who inadvertently compromise the security of an organization’s vital data 


Non-malicious insiders or employees tend to compromise data security owing to their negligence and ignorance. However, there are some users who try to steal important data or threaten an organization's data network for their own advantage. 


It has also been witnessed that some employees or users inside an organization are entirely not aware of their accounts or credentials being hacked.


The above three types of users or employees constitute the most common insider threats that an organization deals with on a regular basis. 


  1. Ransomware 


Another threat that can compromise an organization's vital data security standard is ransomware. 


It involves infecting devices and encrypting data to make it useless. Once this is done, a ransom text is displayed asking for payment to release the decryption key. This leads to data being corrupted or data being completely lost in some extreme cases.


Maintaining regular backups and data security scans can help an organization in staying safe from the potential attack of ransomware. Data recovery becomes extremely difficult once infected by any malware, especially ransomware. 


(Related blog: Extended Detection and Response (XDR): Working and Benefits)


Popular data protection types and methods 


  1. Encryption


End-to-end data encryption involves converting normal text characters into an unreadable format. This text then becomes accessible only for authorized users.


Once the data is encrypted, it becomes highly improbable for hackers and unauthorized users to access sensitive and vital information stored on various storage platforms.


  1. Data erasure 


As compared to standard data wiping, this process entirely overwrites data on any storage device after making sure that the data is no longer recoverable.


  1. Masking data 


Personally identifiable information or PII is masked using this type of data protection. 


This not only allows for the unrestricted usage of real data for developing applications or training purposes but also aids in providing an environment for complying with data privacy norms and standards.


It modifies data to a certain extent by changing the values but retaining the data type at the same time. To put it simply, data masking allows for preparing an artificial version of vital data so that even if someone is able to extract your sensitive information, it would be useless.  


  1. Data Resiliency

Despite following all the required provisions and regulations, in case an organization faces a failure such as hardware issues or power outages, it becomes pertinent to understand the importance of timely data recovery. 


If an organization is able to recover from data security failure well within time, the hazardous impact can be minimized to a great extent. 


  1. Data Discovery and Classification 


Sensitive data first needs to be identified to protect data from being stolen or attacked. 


Tagging files on servers, endpoints and cloud systems where data is usually stored, enables organizations to adopt the best practices for ensuring data security. 


The exact location, volume and context of data stored on-premises and in the cloud needs to be accounted for at all points of time, in order to keep data security in check.


All relevant relational databases, big data centers, data warehouses and mainframes need to be strictly monitored so that organizations can get real-time alerts in case of violation of any data security protocol.


In today's age of AI and Machine learning, it has become rather easier for users to streamline security standards and keep data security on top of their priority. 


(Suggested blog: What are Encrypting Viruses?)


In the end, we can say that In today's fast paced environment of data encompassing all aspects of business, it has become quite necessary for organizations to pay more particular attention than ever before to data security policies. 


Complying with the required data security norms and standards can prove to be beneficial in the long term for any organization's growth and development.

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