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Data Security Management

The age of digital technology proliferation means the biggest businesses are collecting and storing massive amounts of sensitive data, including personal information about customers and employees. 

At the same time, cyberattacks, data breaches, and phishing scams impact more people than ever and are costlier to deal with. The Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2022 Data Breach Report notes that from 2021 to 2022, the number of data compromise victims increased by almost 41.5%, with a total of 422.1 million people impacted in 2022.

IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022 lists the average cost of a single data breach in the United States and around the globe at $9.44 million and $4.35 million respectively.

Companies failing to adequately protect personal information from vulnerabilities can expect damage to their financial health. Additionally, organizations run the risk of suffering long-term reputational damage and a loss of customer trust. 

As such, a strong Data Security Management program is a crucial aspect of managing business risk.

What Is Data Security Management?

Data Security Management is the practice of safeguarding sensitive information against unauthorized access, breaches, data corruption, and other security threats with a comprehensive plan leveraging policies, technologies, and risk management tools. 

Organizations must protect sensitive data to reduce business risk, maintain stakeholder and customer trust, avoid illegal practices, and prevent incurring massive costs in today's era of cybercrime and breaches.

What are the key components of Data Security Management?

These components are critical to safeguarding sensitive information against data breaches, cyber threats, and unauthorized data access.

  • Data classification
    • Data classification streamlines and simplifies ongoing information management and helps categorize assets. Depending on the type of data, a data steward must uphold associated compliance and privacy efforts for regulatory compliance (GRC), data governance and records management, and security/access control purposes.
  • Data governance
    • Per Google: “Data governance is everything you do to ensure data is secure, private, accurate, available, and usable. It includes the actions people must take, the processes they must follow, and the technology that supports them throughout the data life cycle.”
  • Risk management
    • Per Gartner: “The management of granular business risks between the security governance layer and the enterprise risk management layer.”
  • Access controls
    • Policy-based processes to verify authorized users for corporate resource and data access.
  • Strong passwords
    • Cybercriminals are pros at unscrambling passwords. Use complex passwords with a variety of symbols, numbers, and cases, change passwords every 6 months, and store them with a secure password manager.
  • Multi-factor authentication
    • Per Amazon Web Services: “Multi-factor authentication works by requesting multiple forms of ID from the user at the time of account registration. The system stores this ID and user information to verify the user for next login. The login is a multi-step process that verifies the other ID information along with the password.”
  • Security best practices
    • The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency lists some cybersecurity basics as “using strong passwords, updating your software, thinking before you click on suspicious links, and turning on multi-factor authentication.” It’s essential to educate employees on best practices to implement a comprehensive Data Security Management program.
    • Data retention policies are also part of security best practices. Per IAPP’s glossary, retention is “the concept that organizations should retain personal information only as long as necessary to fulfill the stated purpose.” Organizations should implement retention policies to control how data is kept and disposed of.

The CIA Triad as Data Security Infrastructure

A strong data security infrastructure is built upon the pillars of the CIA Triad: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. All cyberattacks or security threats target at least one of the three pillars, and security teams should use this framework to evaluate potential risks and vulnerabilities for their organization’s data assets.

  • Confidentiality
    • Only authorized people or processes should have access and modification abilities for private organizational critical data.
  • Integrity
    • Organizational data is trustworthy, accurate, reliable, and authentic, and is kept free from unauthorized tampering.
  • Availability
    • Protecting sensitive data is incredibly important, but it must be accessible to those who need it. Upholding availability means keeping systems, networks, and devices up and running. 

Data Security Threats and Vulnerabilities To Safeguard Against

Data security threats like breaches, cyberattacks, malware, phishing, insider threats, and social engineering attacks are common challenges for organizations dealing with big data. Understand and defend against these threats to safeguard sensitive data and avoid costly security issues.

Data breaches

Some of the big data breaches in recent years present perfect Data Security Management case studies. Memorably, the 2014 Sony Pictures hackers cost the company around $15 million and released a massive trove of data on executives, employees, and celebrities while severely damaging the studio’s image.

Even more recent and quite a bit larger, the 2017 Equifax breach impacting 147 million people cost the company around $2 billion. Arguably the worst part of the breach, however, is that many people now find the name “Equifax” synonymous with “breach,” which is an extremely difficult image for the credit giant to shake.

Cyberattacks

  • Ransomware and Malware
    • All ransomware is malware, but not all malware is ransomware. Malware is software designed specifically to infiltrate and disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a system. While ransomware falls under the malware umbrella, it’s used to deny a victim access to their own files or systems and demand a ransom in exchange for returning access.
  • Phishing and Social Engineering
    • Similar to the relationship between ransomware and malware, phishing is a type of social engineering attack. Social engineering attackers use social skills to psychologically manipulate victims to share sensitive information or take action that helps an attacker. Where social engineering can take place in any setting, in-person or over technological platforms, phishing is limited to giving out information, passwords, or money via some type of technology.
  • Insider Threats
    • Insider threats can be difficult to predict, and extremely tricky to deal with. Insiders are those with authorization to access systems, data, networks, etc. It could be an employee, contractor, vendor, repair person, or anyone believed to be worthy of trust from a company. Due to the deep knowledge an insider will have concerning an organization’s systems, the threat presented by an insider can be very problematic. Further, insider threats can occur accidentally due to negligence or a mistake. 
  • Zero-day Exploits
    • Zero-day exploits happen when information security teams are unaware of a vulnerability within their organization and have had zero days to work on a fix. The term “zero-day” can also be used with the words vulnerability and attack. A zero-day exploit, specifically, is the technique or tactic a malicious actor uses to leverage the vulnerability to attack a system.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks
    • Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks occur when legitimate users are unable to access information systems, devices, or other network resources due to malicious actions from cyber threat actors. Specifically, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks occur when multiple machines operate together to attack one target, often using botnets to increase the scale of attacks.

 How To Implement Data Security Management

Implementing a company-wide Data Security Management program is important, but not always easy or straightforward. Protecting sensitive data to reduce business risk, maintain stakeholder and customer trust, avoid illegal practices, and prevent incurring massive costs means building a strong cloud security program using the non-exhaustive list of tools below.

Data Governance and Data Classification

Data governance is the overall set of data management actions you take to ensure data is secure, private, accurate, available, and usable. The steps to implement a data governance framework:

  1. Define data strategy, goals, and objectives
  2. Secure essential stakeholder and executive support 
  3. Assess, build, and refine the data governance program
  4. Document organizational data policies
  5. Establish governance roles and responsibilities
  6. Develop and refine data processes
  7. Implement, evaluate, and adapt strategy

Data classification is an early step to take when implementing a data governance framework. Classification helps identify the types of data you have and how you’re using it, including those who have and need access, and how long it should be retained.

Risk Management analysis

Risk management analysis is an ongoing process that helps implement a Data Security Management strategy by continuously monitoring for new and novel threats. The analysis is made up of four cyclical steps: 

  1. Identify existing risks
  2. Assess the risks, evaluate threats
  3. Handle the risks, implement measurements
  4. Control the risk, continue risk monitoring and reporting

When you finish step four, cycle back to step one and continue monitoring for new risks.

Least Privilege and Access Control principles

Implement the principle of least privilege to limit accessible data, resources, applications, and application functions only to those a user requires to execute their daily tasks. Without least privilege controls, organizations create over-privileged users or entities that increase the potential for breaches and misuse of critical systems and data.

Access control allows companies to manage authorizations for organizational data and resource access. A strong access control system should be able to accurately verify and provide correct access roles to various users. There are many access control systems to choose from, like Attribute-based Access Control (ABAC), Discretionary Access Control (DAC), Mandatory Access Control (MAC), and more. 

Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Cybercriminals are getting better at decrypting passwords, and your organization needs to prepare by implementing strong passwords from the start. Paring company-wide password guidance with multi-factor authentication is an easy way to make your data security program stronger across the organization. 

Consider single sign-on (SSO) authenticators, multi-factor authentication apps, and password managers when building your cloud security strategy.

Cybersecurity Automations

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are used in cyberattacks for a reason. These powerful tools can and should be in the good guys’ toolbelt to strengthen Data Security Management and protect your company from risk. Automations are great for instantly reducing human effort (and error) on repetitive, menial tasks.

Additionally, cybersecurity automations using machine learning have a much better chance of catching extremely small changes in a system over time, ensuring cybercriminals are caught and stopped sooner.

DataGrail Is Data Secure

Privacy is only as strong as the security protecting it. DataGrail is architected for privacy management, but security is our foundation.

When it comes to Data Security Management and protection, companies find it challenging to secure sensitive data all on their own. The likelihood of a data breach increases as a company grows and expands its digital footprint. Building with the right security tools is vital for data loss prevention.

DataGrail’s security features include:

  • Physical Security: 
    • We store sensitive data within encrypted AWS storage systems. We have no on-premise servers.
  • Data Protection
    • Customers provision cloud storage in their own environments, with limited permissions granted to DataGrail.
  • Data Encryption
    • All customer data is encrypted at rest using AES-256, and encrypted in transit from VPC to clients via TLS v1.2 to prevent a security breach.
  • Data Recovery: 
    • Daily data backups with AES-256 data encryption, with a Recovery Time Objective (RTO) of 24 hours to prevent data loss.
  • Data Ownership: 
    • Your data 100% belongs to you. We do not use, sell, or repurpose your data.
  • Vulnerability Management:
    • We perform penetration tests every 6 months, with any issues handled within a day.
  • Account Security: 
    • Two-factor authentication: We support Okta, Google SSO, and other SSO providers to prevent a data breach.

Data security and protection solutions help gain greater visibility and insights into potential data issues and allow for comprehensive regulatory compliance management. Whether you're looking to protect sensitive internal company information or client data, DataGrail is your solution. DataGrail is built with security at its core to provide your organization with the best data privacy and protection solutions. 

Data Security Policies and Compliance Requirements

Regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are built with security and privacy in mind, and complying with them helps improve and ensure data security. This section provides insights into the policies and compliance requirements that organizations need to adhere to for effective Data Security Management.

GDPR

The GDPR is a far-reaching, broad, and robust data security law protecting all EU citizens from data privacy breaches and data misuse.

An extension of the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, GDPR applies to EU citizens and corporate networks targeting them as customers — even if the company doesn’t operate under an EU business license. To comply with GDPR, remember to follow the regulation’s seven principles, create a data-related standard operating procedure (SoP), and document all things data compliance.

The Seven Principles of GDPR:

  1. Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency
  2. Purpose Limitation
  3. Data Minimization
  4. Accuracy
  5. Storage Limitation
  6. Integrity and Confidentiality
  7. Accountability

CCPA

The CCPA gives California residents more control and consumer rights over how businesses and organizations collect and handle their sensitive personal information. Due to the CPRA amendment, we sometimes refer to the CCPA as “CCPA 2.0.” Compare CCPA vs CPRA here.

CCPA compliance and regulation applies to for-profit businesses conducting business in California or with California residents. Applicable businesses also meet these criteria:

  • The business has a gross annual revenue of more than $25 million
  • The business buys, stores, collects, sells, or otherwise handles the personal information of 50,000 or more California residents and their households or devices
  • More than half of the business’s annual earnings come from selling Californians’ personal information

The CCPA’s private right of action allows consumers, as individuals or a class, to sue businesses when their personal information is disclosed without authorization. To recover monetary damages, consumers must prove the business failed to “maintain reasonable security procedures and practices.”

We advise adding the following to your CCPA checklist as you build your Data Security Management program:

  • Assign and train individuals or teams to manage data security
  • Inventory data and data types your organization will collect — if your business already makes accommodations to comply with other requirements like HIPAA or GDPR requirements, you’re off to a good start
    • Note the CCPA has unique requirements
  • Perform a risk assessment of the collected data and its handling
  • Identify potential impacts of said information being compromised
  • Identify missing or inadequate contractual arrangements with vendors and other parties
  • Introduce new or adjust existing systems and procedures as necessary to enhance security and satisfy other privacy law requirements
  • Provide required notices to consumers where applicable including a privacy policy, a notice at collection, a notice of the right to opt out, and a privacy notice of a financial incentive or price or service difference being offered
  • Respond to consumer data requests in a manner compliant with CCPA requirements
  • Keep a record of data collecting and sharing, particularly if data is being “sold”

HIPAA

HIPAA’s design creates security measures to keep the protected health information (PHI) of consumers from unauthorized access or disclosure without a patient’s consent or knowledge. 

It also ensures electronic health data is appropriately secure, access to the data is controlled, and entities maintain an auditable trail of PHI activity.

The additional HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act removed HIPAA loopholes and increased violation enforcement mechanisms.

The HIPAA Journal lists the seven fundamental elements of HIPAA compliance:

  1. Develop policies and procedures so that day-to-day activities comply with the Privacy Rule
  2. Designate a Privacy Officer, a Security Officer, and – if resources allow – a compliance team
  3. Implement effective training programs rather than one-off initiation training sessions
  4. Ensure channels of communication exists to report issues, violations, and breaches
  5. Monitor compliance at floor level so poor compliance practices can be nipped in the bud
  6. Enforce sanctions policies fairly and equally
  7. Respond promptly to identified or reported issues, violations, and breaches

Key Takeaways and Next Steps for Your Organization

  1. Prioritize Data Security in Your Organization
    • Prioritizing organizational data security is prioritizing success. Data security aids in reducing business risk, increasing customer trust, and protecting vital business assets. Implementing a Data Security Management program at your foundation sets your company up for long-term success.
  2. Assess Your Data Security Needs
    • When it comes to data security, one size does not fit all. It’s crucial to understand your business needs, the regulatory requirements you’re subject to, and the data you hold when forming a comprehensive security program. 
  3. Develop a Comprehensive Data Security Plan
    • It’s important to hire savvy security experts or find a data security partner when building out your program. Internally handling a security program without industry expertise is a sure way to find your business on the wrong side of a cybersecurity attack.
  4. Train Your Employees on Data Security Best Practices
    • Insider threats are already difficult to predict, so don’t increase the risk of an unaware, untrained employee putting your company in a precarious data breach situation. Initial and continuous employee best practice training is a valuable investment for a healthy data security program.
  5. Regularly Review and Update Your Data Security Measures
    • The world is always changing, and so is the state of data security. Don’t open yourself to risk by letting your guard down or using outdated data security practices. Keep iterating and evolving your data security program to stay vigilant.

Prioritizing data security means going beyond regulatory compliance. It’s a key factor in maintaining a strong brand reputation and competitive edge in today's digital landscape.