In our world today, data has turned out to be a very powerful tool and asset in the technological field and beyond. Data is at the core of every business. It is nearly impossible for a business to operate in today’s modern, digital world without producing, managing, analyzing and storing data about its operations, its services and products, and its customer base. This shows and depicts the importance of data and how it should be collected, processed and protected at all stages by a designed system preventing data breaches, data leaks and cyber-attacks which have turned out to be on the increase.
The rate at which data is being created and stored is high and unprecedented, making data protection and security increasingly become expedient and important. In addition, most business organisation and companies, if not all make use of data and also depend on it to operate, and a short period of downtime or data breach, a small amount of data loss can cause a major disaster for a business.
The rate at which cybercrime is happening is so alarming and this is a threat and challenge to the world of business and finance, health, technology and many more. To prevent, reduce and contain such threats and challenges, there are steps and processes to be taken to aid the protection and security of data which will be shared and discussed below.
Why is a Data Security/ Protection Strategy Essential?
Data Security/ Protection Strategy is important due to how essential data is to every and any organisation.
The absence or lack of good data security can lead to data loss, data leakage or data breakage which can bring about consequences for the business, company or organisation. It compromises the trust and integrity of the company to its customer.
Data are prone to attacks, incidents may occur either due to engineering errors, such as sending data to an external service, unknown to the security team; or through a malicious data theft act and without a good data security/ protection strategy a business empire can be so vulnerable till it crumbles and crashes.
The implications of a data breach or data loss incident can bring organizations to their knees. Failure to protect data can cause financial losses, loss of reputation and customer trust, and legal liability, considering most organizations today are subject to some data privacy standard or regulation. Data protection is one of the key challenges of digital transformation in organizations of all sizes.
An organization’s reputation can also be tainted, either from the data leaked from the data breakage or data loss itself or by the failure of the company's security.
Forms of Risks.
Data leakage or breaches, cyber attacks or data loss comes into being in either of the two forms mentioned below
Internal risks include errors in IT configuration or security policies, the lack of strong passwords, poor authentication, and user access management, and unrestricted access to storage services or devices. A growing threat is malicious insiders or compromised accounts that have been taken over by threat actors.
External risks include social engineering strategies such as phishing, malware distribution, and attacks on corporate infrastructure such as SQL injection or distributed denial of service (DDoS). These and many security threats are commonly used by attackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and exfiltrate it.
Firstly, what is Data Protection?
Data protection is the process of protecting and securing sensitive information and data from damage, loss, corruption, compromise and attacks.
What is Data Security/ Protection Strategy?
A data security/ protection strategy is a mapped-out plan or defined design that includes measures taken, maintained and implemented for the sole purpose and reason of protecting data and reducing risk. This is accomplished by setting controls, authentication, encryption, and backups. It also defines which types of data should be backed up, how data should be recovered when a cyber hazard or attack occurs, which storage mediums/channels should be used and a lot more.
Best Practices of Data Protection/ Security Strategy.
Monitoring and Reviewing
This helps the organisation to have a great view and track the activities of data flow and lifecycle to be transparent at various levels including the data collection/ creation, processing, storage, transmission, destruction, controls and liable risk which aids and helps in the protection and response to threats and cyber-attacks and data breaches and to also identify all valuable data assets, its associated level of risk and to test their security risk.
In doing this, the weaknesses of an organisation's data flow system which may lead to the compromise of information can be discovered and worked upon to evade any form of breach.
Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability
This known as the CIA triad is one of the major and main elements and factors that ensure the protection of data if properly defined and maintained. Information and data collected from clients must be secured, safe and free of any data leakage and breach. It must also be available when needed to be utilised by the organisation.
Data Lifecycle Management
Data lifecycle management is a framework and structure that regularise the data processes and flow until it is destroyed or deleted.
Data Risk Management
Data Risk Management involves the standards that identify breaches and attacks and create alerts for necessary steps to be taken to manage and mitigate the situation. Flow tracks data risks over time including a detailed remediation proposal. This includes sensitive data exposure risks, data mishandling, data access, networking risks, cloud configuration issues, and more.
Data Protection Policies and Procedures
The policy and procedures of an organization are one of the basic and primary components of data protection. This defines the data protection of an organisation and how it is implemented and maintained. It tends to prevent and control data breaches internally and externally. The availability and presence of a policy that is laid out clearly and accessible to people will allow for more consistent data security and protection.
Data Access Management Controls
Access management refers to the access shared by the company in getting, and fetching using data/ information from the company's database or system to users, staff, etc. It ensures authorised and unauthorised data. Strong data access control is a key requirement for both external auditors as well as regulatory enforcers such as the GDPR. External auditors mostly examine this.
Data Backup and Recovery
Data backup tends to be helpful while experiencing data leaks or failures in the system. A data protection strategy should define which types of data should be backed up, how data should be recovered when a disaster occurs, and which storage mediums should be used.
This involves the extensive protection of organisations' assets and data from cyber attacks company’s data as it flows across company networks. The policies and procedures laid down involve physical approaches to security management, such as password management, testing and training awareness for company employees, and comprehensive management reporting. An important factor in this strategy is the availability and activation of tools to protect against attacks and threats. Access by external cyber attacks presents organisations with unacceptable financial risk, which can lead to or result in the beginning of a great fall or crash.
Map Server Workload Data Flows
Data flow mapping is an important element in identifying the threats and risks to which data is exposed. A standard data pathway should be defined. addition to actual data flows, any potential data pathways must also be defined. Data flows also encompass the entire chain from creation to transmission, processing, storage, archiving, and destruction.
Standards and Regulatory Compliance
The standards set by the industry help to establish and maintain protection of organisations or companies' data protection and security.
Regulatory compliance agencies define measures designed to protect data, which organizations are obliged by law to comply with. Each regulation is relevant to certain businesses, industries, and locations.
Tracking of All Available Data
The presence and availability of a data inventory comprise and encompass all the information the organization stores or processes by the organization. This also involves data collection and processing, storage location, usage and sharing policies. This allows you to map your data systems and facilitate management.
Risk Analysis Conduction
Some regulations require companies to proactively identify risks and take measures to mitigate them. Risk assessments are essential for making your organization accountable and allowing you to identify potential threats or deficiencies. Your business infrastructure is a complex web, with many pathways for transferring data—each pathway poses a potential risk, and you must protect the data even when being used by a third party.
Perform a risk analysis to identify individual risks across your network. This will help inform your data protection policies.