Data security is defined as is the practice of protecting digital information from unauthorized access, corruption, or theft throughout its entire lifecycle. Also, data security includes on-premises and cloud environments. It provides encryption, access control, backups, and recovery masking, tokenization, erasure, authentication, and data resilience. In addition, data security also includes regulatory compliance demands created by government agencies and industry standards by organizations such as HIPAA and PCI.
According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, led by five experts, one in eight data breaches is financially motivated. A data breach can be a much more significant disruption to business and your reputation than being in non-compliance. Without taking advantage of data security services, you could be at risk of dealing with public reputation management at best and non-compliance fines or actual theft at worst.
Expected consequences of a data breach
Productivity loss: In the event of a data breach, the IT team needs to stop working on and respond to the threat. Once you patch the danger, the company needs to find what data was breached and attempt to restore it. In addition, all access employees need to the affected data will have to wait until you resolve the threat. According to Cisco, 48% of companies with over 10,000 employees experienced at least four hours of downtime related to a data breach; Moreover, one-third of these companies have experienced up to 16 hours of downtime.
Fines for non-compliance: Violating regulations regarding data storage, user permissions, retention, and other regulatory issues can lead to heavy penalties for companies found in violation. Additionally, these fines coming from regulatory boards may include other liabilities such as repaying data breach victims, providing free credit monitoring protection as is the case with Equifax, or other damages resulting from lawsuits.
Bad public relations: Consumers have high expectations for companies expected to maintain their security. When customers, potential customers, and investors hear that your organization has been part of a data breach, this tarnishes your image, making you appear careless or untrustworthy. Unfortunately, even if something happens through no company's fault, this makes the company seem unreliable. The result is an almost certain loss of customers and even a drop in company share price.
In addition, the costs associated with repairing the breach, media relations, customer service comments, and other communications, and ultimately public relations efforts to rebuild your reputation detract from your mission and can be more costly than even the initial data breach.
Data security service technologies
In most cases, protecting physical or cloud-based data involves at least one of the following:
- Access control
- Backups and recovery
- Data resilience
- Data erasure
- Data encryption
- Data masking
Benefits of data security services
Data is a critical aspect of almost any organization these days. Further, it is crucial to safeguard your customer's data from cybercriminals. Companies worldwide are investing heavily in IT services and other data security services to provide the best cyber defense possible.
Organizations mainly focus on three core elements: People, technology, and processes. Focusing on these principal needs protects customer information, tech infrastructure and intellectual capital, brand reputation, and more. Further, data security is not just for large corporations, but with home computers and family safety, tablets, smartphones, and pretty much any piece of technology with software installed and access to the internet.
Cyber-criminals often target remote devices that connect with an organization to gain access to sensitive information. Because of this, we need endpoint protection and security. Data security helps protect and maintain devices connecting to networks.
Companies and individuals anticipate that cyberattacks will increase as networks expand and the internet of things grows. For this reason, it is essential to have proper data security services in place to meet both the threats of today and the challenges of tomorrow.
Types of data security threats
Guarding against external threats is often the first issue on the list when considering cybersecurity strategies for protecting your data. On the other hand, the primary external data breaches that tend to make headline news only account for roughly half of the leading causes of data breaches. This number is according to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report released by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security. The other half are a result of system errors and internal threats.
In today's digital world, few things are as terrifying in the business landscape as a data breach. Not only do data breaches shift consumer sentiment and cause increased regulatory inquiries, but these breaches cost billions per year to businesses and consumers alike. These issues mean that companies wind up paying the consequences for each violation long after resolving the problem.
While data security is an issue that every company has to deal with, not all threats hold the same degree of risk. Businesses can often work to provide an excellent level of data protection by maintaining the highest levels of security against the worst of potential threats.
The most challenging aspect of managing and predicting is a human error when it comes to data security. While security training exists and even the most fortified servers are protected, even the most skilled and trained workforce can be left vulnerable. Look no further than the 2020 SolarWinds hack that exposed the U.S. Department of Defense, likely due to an employee opening an email virus. No amount of security software is strong enough to overcome errors in judgment and an individual's poor security practices.
There is always a danger of a careless employee exposing a massive data attack from cybercriminals. There is always a danger of corporate espionage or a single disgruntled employee enacting revenge to disrupt even the tightest security. These people vow to damage a company's reputation or steal valuable information to sell to competitors or the black market.
Five top threats to data security
- Physical theft of company property: Especially since COVID has changed the work location environment, employees often take their laptops home with them and carry their work phones everywhere. Whether working remotely, attending business events, visiting clients, or even heading to the bar for a few drinks, work devices are moved out of the office's security and into the much less secure outside world where devices are vulnerable to actual hacking theft.
Companies should make every attempt to encrypt all office-related devices at the least to guard against theft. Encryption reduces the chance a thief can access sensitive information. Enabling a remote wipe of the device can help reduce the chance of stolen data in the event of a stolen device.
- Use of unauthorized devices: Most companies have policies for transferring data from within the company to the outside, but many companies fail to consider the most commonly used method of removing information: Portable devices. Invariably, portable devices are not always secure.
The simplest method of preventing data breaches of this sort is to block USB and peripheral ports completely. However, this creates a series of other problems as users can no longer plug in various devices. One workaround to this is to force encryption on all files transferred off of the device along with a policy only to allow specific trusted devices access to company computers.
- Social Engineering: The favorite of spy thrillers and action movies, social engineering is technically an external threat. Social engineering works by tricking employees into revealing confidential information. This can take the form of spoofing friends and employees in chats or texts and requesting sensitive information, or even emails offering things of value when you click a link.
Most spyware and antivirus software can help protect against these types of attacks. Still, the best method is usually practical training. Educating employees as to how best to approach suspicious requests and how to respond is the best approach.
- Data Sharing Outside the Company: Sometimes, a careless employee can accidentally or intentionally share sensitive data with the public or a third party. When this happens, it can spell doom for a company's security. In the past, people have sent sensitive information by hitting reply-all to an email list rather than one person, or even a typo in sending an email can wind up going public.
While these incidents happen by human error, it is challenging to train all employees never to make honest mistakes. Some special tools such as Data Loss Prevention software can catch such errors and prevent them from being sent.
- Shadow IT: Shadow IT is when employees use external applications they are familiar with rather than the company standard because they do not favor or know how to use the company tools.
The main problem with this is that it is tough to monitor by a company. One weak application installed on a computer or phone can leave the entire infrastructure vulnerable. You can solve this by providing user-friendly tools and training to the employees to help them understand how they work.
Today's digital landscape is a complicated one. However, even with the many issues, with adequate data security services in place, your company can control almost all variables and limit the vast majority of risks in cybersecurity. Our expert team at SSI can provide robust data security to ensure your organization remains resilient against increasing cyber threats.