Data Security Defined
Data security is a set of standards and technologies that protect data from intentional or accidental destruction, modification or disclosure. Data security can be applied using a range of techniques and technologies, including administrative controls, physical security, logical controls, organizational standards, and other safeguarding techniques that limit access to unauthorized or malicious users or processes.
Why is Data Security Important?
All businesses today deal in data to a degree. From the banking giants dealing in massive volumes of personal and financial data to the one-man business storing the contact details of his customers on a mobile phone, data is at play in companies both large and small.
The primary aim of data security is to protect the data that an organization collects, stores, creates, receives or transmits. Compliance is also a major consideration. It doesn't matter which device, technology or process is used to manage, store or collect data, it must be protected. Data breaches can result in litigation cases and huge fines, not to mention damage to an organization's reputation. The importance of shielding data from security threats is more important today than it has ever been.
Different Data Security Technologies
Data security technology comes in many shapes and forms and protects data from a growing number of threats. Many of these threats are from external sources, but organizations should also focus their efforts on safeguarding their data from the inside, too. Ways of securing data include:
Data encryption: Data encryption applies a code to every individual piece of data and will not grant access to encrypted data without an authorized key being given
Data masking: Masking specific areas of data can protect it from disclosure to external malicious sources, and also internal personnel who could potentially use the data. For example, the first 12 digits of a credit card number may be masked within a database.
Data erasure: There are times when data that is no longer active or used needs to be erased from all systems. For example, if a customer has requested for their name to be removed from a mailing list, the details should be deleted permanently.
Data resilience: By creating backup copies of data, organizations can recover data should it be erased or corrupted accidentally or stolen during a data breach.
Data Security Compliance and Standards
When an organization collects any kind of personal data, it instantly becomes known as a data processor. This label comes with a lot of responsibility. For this reason, there are a number of compliance regulations that govern organizations dealing in personal data regardless of the type or volume. The regulations that affect your organization will depend on a selection of factors, such as the industry you are operating in and the type of data you store. For example, if you store data relating to citizens in the European Union (EU) you will need to comply with the latest GDPR regulations. Failure to comply with any regulations that affect your organization could result in hefty fines.
Other regulatory compliance and standards examples include:
- NERC - Critical Infrastructure Protection
- China's Personal Information Security Specification
- PCI Security Standards
Regulatory compliance requirements often vary by data type. A few common examples include:
- Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
- Protected Healthcare Information (PHI, HIPAA)
- Credit card information
The First Steps to a Solid Data Security Strategy
It is entirely possible to enforce a solid data security strategy that protects your most vulnerable data without restricting employees or affecting productivity. Forcepoint's Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution helps you to identify the data, identify your riskiest users in seconds and share data with third parties with confidence. Whether you need to comply with GDPR regulations or PHI/HIPAA legislation, DLP has the built-in expertise to prepare and protect your business where it counts.