What is Data Security? |Threats, Risks and Solutions
Data security is a critical concern for individuals, organizations, and governments as cyber attacks continue to rise in frequency and severity. According to recent reports, cybercrime will cost the world over $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. These alarming numbers underscore the need for robust data security measures to protect sensitive information such as personal data, financial records, and intellectual property. This article will explore the latest trends and technologies in data security and best practices for protecting sensitive data in today’s digital landscape.
Table of contents
- What is Data Security?
- Why Data Security is Important?
- Data Security vs Data Privacy
- Common Threats to Data Security
- Best Practices for Improving Data Security
- Data Security Regulations and Compliance
- Steps Businesses Can Take to Ensure Compliance
- Tools and Technologies for Improving Data Security
- Now You Know What Data Security is!
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Data Security?
Beginning with ‘What is data security,’ it is defined as the protection from unknown, unwanted or external access to data. It refers to protection from a data breach, corruption, modification and theft. The strategies to set up data security include hashing, data encryption and tokenization. In other words, it refers to protecting the information from unauthorized access throughout its lifecycle. The protection requiring components of data security include software, user and storage devices, hardware, organization’s policies and procedures and access and administrative controls.
Data security is achieved via different tools which enable encryption, data masking and redaction of confidential information. Data security is achieved by following strict regulations, and setting up a practical and efficient management process, reducing data security breaches and human error.
Why Data Security is Important?
Data security is of utmost importance in today’s digital age. It refers to data protection from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. Here are several reasons why data security is crucial:
- Protection of Confidential Information: Data security protects your sensitive and confidential information. It includes personal data, financial records, intellectual property, trade secrets, and customer information. Preventing unauthorized access to this information is essential to safeguard privacy, prevent identity theft, financial fraud, and maintain trust.
- Compliance with Regulations: Many industries are subject to strict regulations regarding the protection and privacy of data. Compliance with these regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is mandatory. Failure to comply can lead to legal consequences, fines, and reputational damage.
- Prevention of Data Breaches: Data breaches can have severe consequences for businesses. They can lead to financial loss, reputational damage, and loss of customer trust. Implementing robust data security measures reduces the risk of data breaches and helps protect valuable assets.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: it is crucial in business continuity and disaster recovery planning. Regular data backups, secure storage, and disaster recovery plans ensure that critical business data can be recovered in the event of a data loss or system failure.
- Competitive Advantage: Data security can be a differentiator in a highly competitive market. Businesses prioritizing data security demonstrate their commitment to protecting sensitive information, giving customers and partners confidence in their operations.
- Trust and Customer Confidence: It is vital for building and maintaining customer confidence. Customers are more likely to engage with organizations that prioritize data protection and are transparent about their security measures.
Data Security vs Data Privacy
- Data security protects data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction.
- It involves implementing technical, physical, and procedural measures to protect data integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
- It measures include encryption, firewalls, access controls, intrusion detection systems, and data backup.
- The main goal of data security is to prevent data breaches and unauthorized access and protect data from external threats.
- Data privacy, on the other hand, focuses on controlling the collection, use, disclosure, and sharing of personal data.
- It ensures that individuals control their personal information and how organizations use it.
- Data privacy involves implementing policies, procedures, and measures to comply with privacy laws and regulations.
- It includes obtaining consent for data collection and processing, providing transparency about data usage, and respecting individuals’ rights.
- Data privacy also addresses issues such as data anonymization, data retention, and data subject rights.
Common Threats to Data Security
Malware and Viruses
Malware, also known as malicious software, is a broad category that includes multiple types of software designed to harm computer systems. This includes various variants such as spyware, viruses, and ransomware, which can contribute to a data breach. Malware refers to code created by cyber attackers intending to damage or gain unauthorized access to a system or data. Malware is activated by clicking on an attachment or malicious link. Once activated, malware can cause a variety of harmful actions:
- Installation of additional harmful software
- Damage the system parts rendering them useless
- Data transmission without permission
- Block access to the network components
The mobile data breach is a well-known example of a data leak of around 37 million customers through malware. Eventually, the company agreed to pay customers who filed class action lawsuits around $350 million.
Phishing attacks are fake communication methods with the wrong intent. Users often receive these as emails depicting sent from a trusted source. The components are a set of instructions asked for the receiver to follow. The actions may include revealing confidential information like credit card numbers, login information, CVV and other similar details. The messages or communication method may also contain links that can compromise the data on clicks.
Social Engineering is a well-thought and researched attack. It begins by studying specific targets, their behavior, preferences and needs. The attacker gathers the information, gains the target’s trust and then walks through the security protocols by using them. It involves exploiting the target through pretexting, spear phishing, baiting, phishing, scareware, quid pro quo, water holing, vishing, tailgating, rogue and honey trap.
These refer to internally generated threats from the company or organization. These can be non-deliberate or intentional and are as follows:
- Malicious insiders aim to steal data or harm the organization for personal benefit.
- Non-malicious insider threats are unaware individuals who accidentally set up the trap.
- Compromised insiders are unaware of their system or account being compromised. The harmful activities happen from the person’s account without their knowledge.
Physical Theft or Loss of Devices
Portable devices such as laptops, pen drives, and hard drives are easily stealable things with the potential to cause excessive harm to the company and user. Limiting access to such devices is one of the standard methods to protect data.
Best Practices for Improving Data Security
Here are some of the best practices for improving data security:
Use Strong Passwords and Multi-factor Authentication
Generally, online-based components come already coupled with enhanced data security. The feature includes accepting only strong passwords with variable types of digits, increasing the possible combination of code if put in by guesswork. Additionally, multi-factor authentication requires different devices to be in proximity and authority to login into the specific account. Crossing multiple levels of security checks is uncommon and highly challenging enough.
Keep Software and Systems Up-to-date
The software and systems often encounter bugs. However, software updates aim to resolve such shortcomings, providing enhanced security. It closes the window for internal or external data security breaches.
Limit Access to Sensitive Data
Access control is essential in providing data security by limiting access to a restricted number of users. It promotes accountability and responsibility among a selected group of individuals. Every organization and department must take this crucial step to ensure data security. Access control only allows permission or visual access to specific sections corresponding to a user’s job role. For instance, the finance team does not need access to the software workflow, and vice versa. By implementing access control measures, an organization can ensure that only authorized individuals access sensitive data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches.
Encrypt Sensitive Data in Transit
Regardless of the data’s current usage status, ensure to follow data encryption. It refers to converting the data into an unreadable and non-decodable format. This happens through algorithm and key, which protects the integrity and confidentiality of data. The data in transit and the rest are prone to attack and must undergo encryption.
Backup Data Regularly
The above-stated data security threats include system compromise. It leads to an inability to perform activities due to a lack of data availability. Thus, regular data backup helps modify and use it to prevent harm. It decreases the harm as the lost information due to data breach may take longer to recover.
Train Employees on Security Awareness
The updated information on possible attacks and prevention methods can protect company data from numerous losses. It enables the employees to take mindful actions and precautions while dealing with unknown or strange data. It also makes them aware of how to identify social engineering attacks. Enlighten them about ‘what is data security’ and other crucial aspects such as data security regulations like PCI DSS, HIPAA and others.
Data Security Regulations and Compliance
It is the acronym for General Data Protection Regulations Legislation. The law aims to protect the data of European citizens. It prevents organizations from leaking or selling personal data to third-party sources or breaching privacy while data processing. It also protects people’s data from damage, accidental loss and destruction. The law implies a fine of 4% of the company’s annual turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is highest.
California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, controls the company’s data collection method. It ensures people know every detail about data usage, sharing, and processing. It also ensures the users get the right to remove permission for third-party selling of data and the right to avoid discrimination.
It stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It protects health data by preventing unknown exposure without consent or knowledge. HIPAA contains privacy and security rules to enlighten patients about using patient information and its protection norms. HIPAA also imposes fines of up to $15,000 per offense, the possibility of prison of up to 10 years and a maximum annual fee of $1.5 million.
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act
It aims to regulate audits, financial reports and business activities at different organizations. The latter can include public traded and private organizations, nonprofit firms and enterprises. The beneficiaries of the act are shareholders, employees and the public.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
The standard is concerned with credit card data, where it protects the processing, transmission and storage of data. It is currently regulated by PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) while major credit card companies like Mastercard launched it. The PCI DSS can also collect fines for non-compliance. It is collected monthly up to $100,000 and suspends the users from card acceptance.
International Standard Organization (ISO)
The standard establishes, maintains, implements and improves the security management system. It educates organizations about the development of security policies and risk minimization approaches.
The Importance of Compliance for Businesses
The numerous losses come along with data security breaches. The result of such loss on the organization is litigation, reputational damage and fines. It can also lead to decreased financial loss and weak consumer satisfaction and reliability, leading to brand erosion. Such losses encourage the need for data security compliance for businesses.
Steps Businesses Can Take to Ensure Compliance
- Mindfully choose the location of cloud storage system to comply with data regulations.
- Provide timely and complete information in response to data subject requests.
- Implement employee access control to avoid error-based and insider threat data breaches.
- Comply with audits and maintain proper record-keeping systems for easy retrieval of records.
- Use data encryption, especially in communication systems such as email.
- Use different software and technologies to protect hardware and software devices from data security breaches.
- Follow the CIA Triad principles of confidentiality, integrity, and availability to ensure data security.
Also Read: This is How Experts Predict the Future of AI
Tools and Technologies for Improving Data Security
Here are a few tools and technologies that are essential for improving data security:
Firewalls, Antivirus Software, and Intrusion Detection Systems
An intrusion detection system or IDS is a complete system holding control to detect and report unauthorized activities or intrusion. It can also prevent access or block them. Antivirus software primarily detects malicious code in a file or any source, and it must disallow the execution for the system’s integrity.
A firewall is associated with control over network traffic, where it either allows all network packets or blocks a few suspicious sites. Alternatively, it may deny all the packets and allow only necessary ones. These are effective tools for the prevention of data breaches.
Data Loss Prevention Tools
Data leak prevention software or data loss prevention tools imparts protection and allows compliance to protect sensitive business information from a data breach. It exercises distribution control along the guidelines of business rules concerned with network and endpoint levels to allow policy consistency across the company. Numerous data loss prevention tools are available for access demo, free trial and the paid version. SpinOne, Cyberhaven, and thread locker are among the common examples.
It is a security solution to identify threats and vulnerabilities before they cause substantial harm. SIEM system tracks, evaluates and analyzes the events and security data for compliance and auditing. It allows visibility and rapid action into the activities occurring in a company’s network, thus preventing potential cyberattacks. SIEM recognizes the changes in user behavior using artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is also considered an efficient data orchestration system for threat management and reporting, and regulatory compliance.
Identity and access management (IAM) tools
As evident by the name, it ensures access to the right people and job roles in specific organizations. It controls access management and is useful for software, people, and hardware, including robotics and IoT devices. It enhances security and increases employee productivity. IAM tools allow access to people based on their job roles, thus eliminating the requirement to remember passwords and login credentials. It has four components, user management, authentication, central user repository and authorization.
Now You Know What Data Security is!
Data security is an essential aspect of every organization in today’s digital age. With the increasing number of data breaches, companies must take necessary steps to secure their data. This can be achieved by implementing access control, choosing a secure location for cloud storage, performing employee access control, complying with audits, and following the CIA Triad. Additionally, it is crucial to educate employees about data security best practices, implement regular security training, and perform regular security assessments. By prioritizing data security, organizations can protect themselves against potential breaches and ensure the safety and privacy of their data.
Frequently Asked Questions
A. Data security protects data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. It involves implementing measures to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability throughout its lifecycle.
A. Data security involves safeguarding sensitive information from unauthorized access. For example, encrypting sensitive customer data stored in a database, implementing access controls to restrict unauthorized users from accessing confidential files, and regularly backing up data to prevent loss in case of a system failure.
A. 3 types of data security are:
a) Physical Security: This focuses on protecting the physical infrastructure that houses data, such as data centers, servers, and storage devices. It includes measures like access control systems, surveillance cameras, and security guards.
b) Technical Security: This refers to the use of technology and software to protect data. It includes encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and secure data transmission protocols.
c) Administrative Security: This involves establishing policies, procedures, and guidelines to govern the proper handling and protection of data. It includes access control policies, employee training and awareness programs, incident response plans, and regular security audits.
A. Data security aims to safeguard sensitive information from unauthorized access, prevent data breaches, protect the privacy of individuals, ensure data integrity and availability, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. It helps build trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders by demonstrating a commitment to protecting valuable data assets.