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The Truth about Data Security

Data security refers to the process of protecting digital data from unauthorized access, loss, or corruption. Data security is vital for a better customer experience and brand reputation.
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What is Data Security?

It goes without saying, data is vital for business and so is data security. Adopting specific measures, controls, and policies to prevent unauthorized access, accidental loss, theft, or corruption of data throughout its entire lifecycle is known as data security. 

Digital data is often subjected to threats from cybercriminals, system failures, human errors, and natural calamities. Proper implementation of data security strategies is essential for the protection of an organization’s information assets. 

According to 92% of consumers, companies must be proactive about data protection. Data security is also a vital part of the customer experience.    

With rapid digital transformation, the amount of data being stored and managed has increased exponentially. Every corporate, regardless of its size, depends on data to various levels.

Historical data can be a treasure for predicting future trends. On the other hand, the current data works as the backbone for the evaluation and optimization of crucial business processes. Today’s businesses compete fiercely over data assets. Even a minor data breach can affect any business severely, leading to permanent damage. 

The Core Elements of Data Security 

The basic concept of data security is based on three primary aspects – also known as the CIA triad. These elements help organizations to model their data security strategies effectively. This is necessary to ensure maximum protection of sensitive information. The elements are, 

  • Confidentiality – It is vital to ensure that data is accessible only by authorized individuals. Everyone does not need access to every organizational data. Data segmentation and mandatory access permissions can be helpful to implement this aspect of data security. 
  • Integrity – Safekeeping is not the only objective of data security. Ensuring that the information is accurate and reliable is a crucial factor. It is important that every organization implements policies and measures for complete data integrity.  
  • Availability – Data serves a vital role in business, and it should be available right when you need it. Ensuring the availability and accessibility of data to satisfy the different business requirements is essential.      

Benefits of Data Security       

Loss of valuable data or unauthorized data disclosure can cost any business dearly. The key benefits of data security cover, 

  • Safeguards information – Unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information means exposing your business or your customers to unknown threats. For example, disclosing the personal information of your employees or customers can make them vulnerable to financial fraud. 
  • Prevents brand reputation damage – Brand reputation is what makes your business stand apart. Your customers are trusting you with their sensitive personal information while engaging with your business. If you cannot keep that information safe and secure, it is sure to affect your reputation negatively. Incidents of data breaches in your organization can easily make your customers lose confidence in your brand.    
  • Gives a competitive edge – Keeping sensitive information strictly private and away from prying eyes can give you an edge in this competitive market. Some critical data that is only accessible to you or your brand can work as a great winning point in the corporate world. 
  • Saves from fines and litigations – The average data breach costs $3.92 million. Companies handling sensitive customer information are obliged to maintain data security protocols as per the legal regulations of the state or country. Lack of proper data security measures can lead to data breaches which may be subject to severe fines and legal procedures.   

Data Security Tools and Methods 

All data security methods aim to preserve privacy and prevent loss or corruption of data. The best data security methods will ensure data protection without compromising data integrity or availability.

     1. Encryption 

For encryption, an algorithm is used to convert normal text characters or numbers into a format that is not readable by humans. The encrypted text needs to be decrypted with an authorization key to make it readable. This method works efficiently as a final line of protection for sensitive data.

     2. Data Erasure 

Completely erasing data when it is no longer needed by a certain user or has been moved to a safer repository is vital for data security. Data erasure uses software for overwriting the old data from the storage and is much more effective than normal data wiping. 

     3. Access Management And Monitoring

Limiting access to digital assets can help with data integrity and data leak. The latest business applications encapsulate advanced access management options to ensure better security. Monitoring end-point access of the connected devices is important for data protection. 

     4. Data Masking 

Data masking is an efficient process to secure sensitive data without limiting availability. The process uses software for masking specific fields of identifiable information. This generalizes the data, eliminating security risks.

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Data Security Strategies 

A comprehensive, organization-wide data security strategy can help to prevent the leakage of sensitive information. The strategy should cover the following,

  • Physical security of devices and servers - Any system that holds data should have proper physical security measures. 
  • Regular software updates – Every application used in your organization should be updated as soon as a new update is available. Old software versions without the latest patches can compromise the security of your systems.
  • Access management – Granting access permission for every resource, network, or administrative account should be made mandatory. Provide access to as few people as possible.  
  • Maintain backup – Keeping multiple copies of vital information is not a suitable option. However, make sure that there is a reliable backup of every important file. All backups should have proper physical and logical security. 
  • Educate employees – Your employees play a vital role in ensuring better data safety for your organization. Educating them regarding the importance of data security is important for an effective data security strategy. 
  • Proper password hygiene – Using unique and strong passwords for every account can help to avoid cybercrime threats. A hacker attack happens every 39 seconds and a strong password can work as a primary level of defense against such threats. 
  • Cloud and end-point security – A comprehensive approach to threat detection and management of on-premises and cloud-based environments is needed. This can help to mitigate risk and ensure prompt actions in case of a potential threat.   
  • Data security audits - A strong audit plan is essential to a comprehensive data security strategy. Organizations should perform data security audits at least every few months. Audits help in identifying gaps in data security measures so that you can rectify them.       

Data Security Regulations

To ensure data protection in business, the government and legislative authorities have designed specific regulations. These regulations focus on different industries and include data security as a major compliance requirement. Let’s take a brief look into the data security requirements under these popular regulations. 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA was passed to regulate the health insurance industry. An organization needs to adopt certain data security processes to meet HIPAA compliance. Continually monitoring the access and activity of sensitive files and controlling file access through authorization is needed. In addition, keeping a written record of all user objects within the file is also a crucial aspect of the act. 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This regulation specifically focuses on the protection of the personal data of EU citizens. For GDPR compliance an organization should hold accurate information on where the data is stored. This is critical to protect the data and also to fulfill any alteration or deletion requests. Some other security requirements are limiting data retention, continuous monitoring of data, and reporting any discovery of a data breach within 72 hours.

And that, in a nutshell, is Data Security. It is the foundation of what we do here at Accountable. We exist to help companies take the steps necessary to ensure the security and privacy of all data that they handle, store, or transmit. If you are looking to become HIPAA or GDPR compliant, or just want to take broad steps in your data security operations, we can help you with that, today. 

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