In network security, as in life, it’s impossible to eliminate risk. Today’s business environment is too complex to account for every potential hazard. Even if you had perfect data security solutions – which don’t exist – you’d still have unpredictable human beings handling your data and devices, exposing your network to risk. That’s why your goal should be to minimize your risk of an attack and mitigate the damage if one occurs.
4 Data Security Solutions to Best Minimize and Mitigate Risk
Your data security methodology will have a lot of moving parts, and you’ll need to choose specific vendors and solutions based on your organization’s unique requirements and risk. These four data security solutions are essential components of any data security strategy.
Data Discovery and Classification
You can’t protect your most valuable data if you don’t know where it is. That’s why you need a data discovery solution to help you find and track sensitive information. You also need the ability to classify – or tag – your data according to criteria, such as its value to a would-be hacker, its value to your organization, or the regulations the data is subject to (like HIPAA, for healthcare information, or PCI DSS, for credit card payment information).
Using a data discovery and classification solution makes it easier to organize your sensitive data and enforce adequate security controls and policies. Classifying data according to value, risk, and sensitivity allows you to apply role-based access control (RBAC) and least-privilege policies to strictly control which users, services, and applications have access. Data discovery tools also provide visualizations of your datasets, so you have a holistic overview of where your data is, who’s using it, and for what purposes.
A firewall provides the primary security perimeter protecting your network, data, users, and devices from the outside world. You need a stateful firewall that constantly monitors connections and analyzes your network traffic looking for potential risks. You also need to extend your security perimeter to your cloud and SaaS (software as a service) data. Depending on your cloud architecture model, you might consider a firewall as a service – or FWaaS – solution that integrates with your cloud platform. FWaaS rolls up all the features of a next-generation firewall (NGFW) into a cloud-based service, eliminating the need to host physical or virtual appliances. An NGFW or FWaaS provides functionality like:
Integrated intrusion prevention with advanced threat intelligence
Built-in sandboxing for antivirus detection and removal
Holistic monitoring of your network and infrastructure
Identity and Access Management
Identity and access management (IAM) is a critical component of data security. It allows you to create and apply granular security policies to limit access to your sensitive data. Your IAM solution should integrate with the rest of your data security solutions as well as your cloud and SaaS platforms.
Integrating IAM with your data discovery solution allows you to set and apply permissions based on classification tags. For example, you can create a tag for highly-classified financial records, link it to an access control policy in your IAM, and ensure that any new records created with that tag have the policy automatically applied. That way, only authorized accounts have access to your sensitive files, no matter where those files are created or stored.
Your IAM needs to work with your firewall, as well. A firewall provides you with the security controls to enforce your IAM policies and privileges. For instance, your firewall can use IAM policies to determine which application controls are appropriate for a specific user or process. Your firewall can also use IAM policies to limit an account’s access to specific servers, databases, and network segments depending on their privilege level.
If you host any resources in the cloud, your IAM also needs vendor-neutral cloud integrations so you can apply the same security policies. You don’t want to rely on your cloud platform’s in-built access management functionality, because then you won’t be able to maintain consistent account privileges and access policies across your entire infrastructure.
Backup and Recovery
Backup and recovery are essential to a data security solution because they provide you with leverage in the event that your network is breached. Ransomware is a huge data security threat – approximately 37% of global organizations say they were hit with ransomware in 2021 alone. In a ransomware attack, hackers gain access to your network and then encrypt your critical and sensitive data, holding it hostage for a large sum of money. If all or most of the stolen data has been backed up to a safe location and you’re confident in your ability to recover it, you could potentially avoid paying a hefty ransom.
However, it’s important to note that in some ransomware attacks, the hackers also exfiltrate sensitive data and use it for blackmail. For example, they may steal trade secrets and threaten to give them to your competitors, or find some damaging information about your company and threaten to expose it to the press. In that case, backup and recovery won’t save you. It’s better to prevent ransomware attacks altogether with a comprehensive network and data security strategy.
Data encryption encodes data so that it’s unreadable and unusable to anyone who doesn’t have a decryption key. That means it tends to be one of your last lines of defense in an attack. Encryption ensures that, even if a hacker makes it onto your network and exfiltrates sensitive data, they won’t be able to do anything harmful with it. Your sensitive data should be encrypted both at rest – while it’s sitting on a server or in the cloud – and in transit – while it’s moving around to applications, databases, etc.
Holistic Data Security Solutions to Minimize Risk
It’s important to develop a data security strategy that takes your organization’s particular requirements, weaknesses, and existing infrastructure into account. You may find it beneficial to bring in a third party to assess your environment and guide you in implementing data security solutions. For example, the security experts at Copado Strategic Services can analyze your organization’s security readiness and provide holistic data security solutions to protect your valuable data from attack.