Enterprise Data Security (And What You Can Do About It)
Data security is important on all levels, from an individual to an organization. However, the impact that a failed data security has is much greater the bigger an organization is.
The more your business grows and as the amount of data you have grows, enterprise data protection becomes increasingly important and something you need to focus on.
That's why we want to talk here about enterprise data security, what is it, why is it important, how to implement it in your organizational structure and more to bring it closer to you and, hopefully, help you protect your sensitive data across the organization.
As a business leader, it often falls to you to secure your important data, such as email.
What is Enterprise Security?
To properly understand enterprise data security, we need to understand enterprise security as a whole.
This, as you might imagine, is a very broad challenge and one not easily answered. Yet, as the threats to your data grow bigger and lurk behind every corner, having a way to keep this data protected becomes imperative.
The primary job of enterprise security is to minimize and take away the risk of unauthorized access like a cyberattacker accessing the company data and IT systems.
What is Enterprise Data Protection?
Now that we have the answer to what is enterprise security, we can properly understand what is enterprise data security.
Enterprise data security is the process of distributing, managing and managing data security across all parts and levels of an organization.
Data doesn't sit in just one place, especially not in a large and geographically dispersed company.
Instead, it is shared by different departments and across multiple geographical sectors.
This (data) is the most important resource a business can have, so it needs to be protected from loss as that can lead to significant financial, time and reputation losses for the business.
How to Implement an Enterprise Data Security Strategy?
Okay, securing your enterprise data is important. You didn't need me to tell you that.
But how do you introduce it in your organization? Where to start? What steps and in what order to make?
Step 1: Audit Your Current Data Security System for Vulnerabilities
Start with an audit of your current security system. What are its weak points and where is a potential attacker most likely to strike (and probably succeed)?
Does it include anti-virus and anti-malware protection? Having information security technologies to protect you against these threats is crucial, but is not the be-all and end-all. It's just the beginning of your larger security strategy.
Next, you also need to look at cryptography and encryption techniques. Are they a part of your information security? If not, you are risking a lot and leaving your data exposed.
Data is stolen all the time, but that doesn't have to be a win for whoever stole it if encryption is already in place and prevents them from taking advantage of it without having the encryption key to read it.
Step 2: Identify and Classify Sensitive Data
We already said that data is everywhere across a company, but what makes one data more important than the other?
That's for you to determine based on your organization and to classify sensitive data according to levels of access in order to attain data privacy.
Step 3: Define Your Data Security Protocols and Policies
Once you've pinpointed sensitive data in your company, you need to develop and implement strong and attainable protocols and policies. This is vital if you want your enterprise data security to be achievable in the first place.
A proper data security policy and protocols will:
- Reflect the risks that the company is most likely to face when it comes to its internal and external data
- Define what employees must do from a security standpoint
- Provide a course for the control framework to be built on to protect the company from internal and external threats
- Support a company's legal and ethical responsibilities
- Hold individuals on all levels of the company structure accountable for data security
Step 4: Build an Effective Data Security Strategy
A proper and effective enterprise data protection strategy must work to prevent unauthorized access by hackers, cyber attackers and other threats like them and, on the other hand, allow fast and streamlined access to your own people.
Of course, people are not the only threat to your data. Another one is data breaches. Data breach costs companies billions of dollars per year and the United States, in particular, are the country with the highest average cost of a data breach with $8.64 million according to IBM's 2020 Data Breach Report. This is where data backups come in.
A data breach will have a significant impact on an organization so you need to backup your data to prevent data loss and in particular ransomware. Make sure to backup your sensitive data regularly and minimize the risk of data loss or corruption this way.
Step 5: Introduce Data Protection Across all Levels of Your Company
You also need to secure your data across all business units, whether on premises or in the cloud.
Data protection must be present for all company projects, sectors, regions and levels to properly secure your databases against external and internal threats.
Once you do this, enterprise data protection suddenly stops being an expense and becomes an asset for your organization.
Data Security Layers
No single data security technology or technique is sufficient and powerful enough to protect your business and make it "secure".
Instead, think of data security in layers, like an onion.
The OSI model of network security can easily be adapted to data security as a whole.
This way, we have 7 layers of data security. From top to bottom these are:
- The Human Layer
Whether it's an internal or external threat, people are often the weakest link in an information security system and one most likely to fail.
As proof of that, you just need to look at how many phishing attempts are made every year and, more worryingly, how many actually are successful.
This is all due to someone not being able to recognize a phishing attack and respond to it adequatelly.
- The Perimeter Security
Your business must be protected not just from physical or digital threats, but from both. This is why this layer needs to deal with both.
- Network Security
The organization's network needs to be easily accessible to those inside the organization, but inaccessible to anyone who might threaten it.
The network security layer does exactly this to protect and secure access to the network.
- Endpoint Security
One of the weakest points in any enterprise data security is the connection between the network and the devices on that network.
This is especially true in the case of "BYOD" or "bring your own device" policies that many companies today are introducing as employees with already infected BYOD devices can spread that infection across the network and introduce data corruption for others in the organization.
Endpoint security deals with securing the connections between the devices and the network and ensures they are intact.
- Application Security
Data security technologies often rely on applications. That's why the application security layer works on three levels on its own:
The first is to control access to the application.
The second to control the application's own access to mission critical assets.
The third is the internal security of the application itself.
- Data Security
Your data is vulnerable on several levels from transfer to storage and the data security layer should protect the data on all those levels effectively.
- Mission-Critical Data
Finally, as we already said many times over, not all data is equal and you need to determine the sensitive data or mission-critical data that you need to protect.
Data is the most important asset in any organization and that is why enterprise data protection should not be just empty words, but a goal you must strive for constantly.
This includes the security tools, technologies, policies and solutions that organizations must introduce and use to keep their important data and intellectual property secure from different threat factors.
Every organization will have a different data protection requirement, so you must figure out this for your company beforehand and once you do, constantly work to improve it.