What is Data Security - Types, Strategy, Compliance and Regulations

By Jagadish Jaganathan

Last updated on Mar 28 2022

What is Data Security - Types, Strategy, Compliance and Regulations

What is Data Security?

 

We are living in the age of the Data Revolution, and every aspect of our lives has turned out to be data-driven. Just by controlling data, one can control institutions, organizations, and even governments. Today we have access to a large amount of data, means to store them, and the ability to read them and draw insights. But what if such crucial data falls into the wrong hands? And what if the data is corrupted or lost?

And that is why Data Security is ever so important.

Data security is the process of safeguarding sensitive digital information from unauthorized access, corruption, and theft throughout the data lifecycle. This includes every aspect of information security such as the physical security of the hardware and storage devices for the data, security of the software application, and organizational policies and regulations.

This means the data will be protected against attacks by criminals who will encrypt or modify the data. Data leaks will be prevented and will ensure that the data is easily accessible for authorized personnel.

Data security and robust cybersecurity strategies are very important for any organization to protect itself from cybercriminal activities. It also safeguards against insider threat and human error, which are regular occurrences in big organizations handling a large amount of data. The data security concept involves using tools and technologies to handle critical data and provide protection to them through encryption, data masking, redaction of sensitive files, and so on.

 

Why is Data Security Important?

Studies show that on average a country like the USA suffers a loss of 8 million USD due to data breach issues. 25,000 user accounts are impacted due to data violations. These incidents are more than financial losses; data breach leads to loss of customer trust and damages the reputation of the organizations. And below are a few other important reasons why data security is crucial.

  • Governments around the world are introducing stringent rules and regulations surrounding data privacy. This enables the user with more rights, and if unforeseen events may occur, with these rights the users can file lawsuits against organizations resulting in fines and settlements.
  • Data criminal activities like social engineering, ransomware, and advanced persistent threats are on the rise. These threats are extremely difficult to counter and are capable of wreaking havoc on an organization’s data.
  • Companies are expected to take up additional standards by the industry regulators if the natures of the data they deal with are highly sensitive. For example, organizations dealing with credit card transactions are expected to adopt PCI/DSS (Payment Card Industries Data Security Standards).

 

Data Science Program

What is the difference between Data Security, Data Protection, and Data Privacy?

While all these names do sound similar and they deal with securing data, they do have a distinct function. Let us discuss each of these measures in detail.

  • Data Security – Data security is a measure to protect your data against unauthorized access, loss, and encryption. For example, encrypting your data so that the hackers won't be able to use it.
  • Data Protection – This is a process of creating backups or duplicates so that you’ll be safe from accidental erasure or deletion. Using a cloud backup is one of the data protection methods; here even if the hardware containing the data is lost, the data will be secure in the cloud.
  • Data Privacy – Data privacy involves the collection and usage of the data concerning the regulation and consent of the users. Website cookies are one of the best examples of data privacy where the user’s permission is requested to collect data.

 

What are the different types of Data Security?

 

There are a lot of data security measures to protect sensitive information, here let us discuss the most commonly used types.

 

Encryption

Data Encryption is a process of translating plaintext (unencrypted) to ciphertext (encrypted). If the user needs to access the encrypted text they need an encryption key and to access decrypted text, they need a decryption key. In other words, encryption means coding data mathematically so that it can only be read or decrypted by someone with the correct key or the cipher. Digital encryption renders the digital information unreadable to unauthorized users with the help of algorithms.

 

Data Masking

Data masking is one of the most important types of data security methods; it is achieved by hiding the original data with modified content. Data masking involves interchanging some elements of the data which would enable the security and confidentiality of the information. There are several kinds of data masking techniques like static data masking, deterministic data masking, on-the-fly data masking, etc.

 

Data Resiliency

Resiliency is the ability of a network, server, or even an entire data center to recover quickly and continue operating even if there is any equipment failure like power outage, system issues, and other disruptions. Organizations need to have efficient methods to counter any hardware malfunction that would affect data availability. The speed of the recovery is very important to minimize the impact.

 

Data Erasure

Data erasure also referred to as data clearing or data wiping, is a software-based method of overwriting the data to destroy all the electronic information in the device or the digital media. It is usually done by overwriting zeros and ones on all the sectors of the device. You can achieve data sanitization by overwriting data on the storage device, which would render the data irrecoverable.

 

What are the different Data Security Solutions?

It is common knowledge that organizations today use a vast amount of data in various forms. And these data are highly complex, distributed, and stored in a multi-cloud environment. It is very challenging to work with such a data system. Especially understanding where the data resides, tracking the usage, monitoring file movements, and mitigating the risk involved in them. Data security solutions offer organizations a systematic approach to monitor and streamline these tasks. And below are some of the data security solutions.

  • Data classification tools – sensitive information can reside in both structured and unstructured forms in the databases like a data warehouse, big data platform, and cloud. Data discovery and data classification tools will help in identifying the sensitive data and assessing the risk associated with them. It will also automate the process that can be applied across all the data platforms.
  • Data activity monitoring – using this method you can analyze the pattern of the data and file usage. You can continuously monitor who is using the data and spot any outliers. You can automate it to block the access of the data when an anomaly is spotted.
  • Vulnerability and risk assessment tools – there are a lot of risks and vulnerabilities involved in the software and technology we use and sometimes it can miss our attention. This resource will help you identify risk factors like outdated software, misconfiguration, weak passwords, etc. it can also detect the data source’s risk of exposure. And ensure Database security.
  • Compliance reporting – security compliance is a big part of data security solutions; organizations have to comply with the guidelines of regulatory bodies and failing to do so will incur hefty fines. This solution will track any compliance issue and alert you for any deterrents for timely correction.

 

Data Security Strategy

So far we have discussed the need for data security systems and different types of data security solutions. In the following section let’s dive deep into different types of data security strategies.

The main components of data security strategy are the people, processes, and technologies. Information security cannot be achieved just by tools and technologies. At the end of the day, it’s the people who work on them, and hence organizations should make information security a top priority and infuse it into their organizational culture.

Physical security of servers and devices – irrespective of whether you have in-house data storage or third-party data storage, security facilities are required to protect devices housing your data. It needs to be fully equipped against any intrusion, fire, and other factors.

Access and control management – there is a commonly used principle followed in most organizations when it comes to data handling known as ‘least privilege access’. Which means the information needs to be handled by as few as possible. And the access needs to be granted only on the bases of the highest requirement.

Application security – all the software applications used should be updated to the latest version, and need to be continuously monitored so that there is no outdated software in use.

Backups – a robust data security strategy must be able to counter any unforeseen challenges, even ones like data losses. Thoroughly tested copies of all critical data must be saved. And these back-ups should be subjected to the same physical and logical security guidelines.

Employee awareness – there are numerous instances of security breaches due to human negligence; hence employees must be trained on information security. From following hygienic password practices to spotting social engineering attempts, awareness from the people working with the data can greatly aid data security.

Network and endpoint security monitoring – risk management, detection, and response tools should be employed across the platform. This will mitigate the risk and potential data breach.

 

What’s new in Data Security?

 

Data security is a very dynamic field, changes and developments keep happening to cater to the changing technology landscape. Let’s look at some of the ongoing trends in data security.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence can elevate data security to a new level with its great capacity to handle data. Deep learning and cognitive computing are the subsets of artificial intelligence which is modeled based on the working of a human brain. These systems are employed in data security to aid in rapid decision-making.

Multicloud Security

With cloud computing, there has been great advancement in the way we work with data and data security as well. Public and private clouds are a great source for data backups. And organizations working with a huge quantity of data are looking to adopt more and more cloud technology for their operations.

Quantum

Quantum is a revolutionary technology whose potential is just being tested. Many experts predict that this technology will usurp most of the in-practice applications. Encryption algorithms are expected to become more complex and secure with this technology.

 

Read more about Information Security Analyst job roles.

 

 

Data Security Compliance and Regulations

Most countries around the world have stringent data security guidelines, which organizations are advised to follow. These regulatory compliances are difficult to adhere to as they vary country-wise, but following them is very important since failing to do so will incur hefty fines. It is advisable to have a legal counsel navigate through the compliance regulations. Here are some of the data governance regulations,

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

 

Conclusion

Irrespective of the size and scope, businesses these days are emphasizing more on extracting customer data, understanding the customer through data, and delivering products and services to better serve their needs. Successful business ventures vouch on this mantra.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace to a future of astonishing possibilities, but it does come with its flipside. As the organization grows in sophistication and complexity, cyber-criminals keep devising new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. So investing in a robust data security strategy is not a luxury anymore but a need.

If you are someone who is motivated by challenges and believes in continuous learning, data security is the right field for you. While there are a lot of ways to kick start your data security career. Professional certification training will ensure that you are fully equipped with all the tools and skills required to succeed in the field. And what's more, it will also give you an edge with the reputation it carries while you are applying for jobs.

Check out CompTIA CySA+ certification training for security analyst job profiles, offered by SprintZeal. You can also take a look at Data Science Master Program Certification.

Sprintzeal is ATO (Accredited Training Organization) offering industry-standard professional certification training. 

 

About the Author

Sprintzeal   Jagadish Jaganathan

Jagadish Jaganathan is a Content Writer at Sprintzeal. An avid reader and passionate about learning new things, his works mainly focus on E-Learning and Education domain.

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