Information security used to revolve around securing the locations where sensitive data was stored. Now, with the rise of cloud computing, data can be stored and transferred in an infinite number of ways — making it nearly impossible to protect against data breaches for every single device.
The best solution for modern times, then, is a data-centric security model.
Data-centric security focuses on securing the data itself, rather than how and where the data is stored. This is accomplished via encryption, access management, and compliance governance. By creating a data-centric security model and robust data security policies, you can secure your organization’s sensitive data for its full lifecycle regardless of where it goes.
Why You Should Consider Data-Centric Security Solutions
The benefits of a data-centric security strategy include:
- Strong cybersecurity regardless of device or system
- Secure data management and exchange within your supply chain
- Mitigated risk of attack on client and customer data
- No data silos
- Access control that leads to less internal obstacles
- Reduced harm when systems fail
You can think of data-centric security awareness as wrapping your sensitive information in armor before sending it out in the world, rather than having guards patrol your servers. Your various data types will be protected from hackers no matter where it goes or who interacts with it, which is a huge advantage in an increasingly digitally connected world.
Core Elements of a Data-Centric Security Model
When arranging your organization’s data-centric security model, you’ll first need to audit the data across all platforms, including your intranet and cloud.
Automated processes should then classify all your data allowing for appropriate protections to be applied later. This step is often known as “data discovery,” since it will be when most companies discover what data they have and what it is used for.
This data classification process is crucial because you wouldn’t protect credit card information in the same way you’d protect patents or blueprints. Both are incredibly important, but each one needs different types of security.
Identity and Access Management
Identity and access management (IAM) assures that only the users you approve will have access to certain data.
For example, you may set up intranet access controls so that individuals only have access to the data they need to perform their job, rather than access to every piece of data you store as an organization. This type of cybersecurity management often takes the form of single sign-on authentication and privileged user management.
Loss Prevention and Data Protection
Regardless of how familiar you are with a data-centric approach, the risk of a cyberattack or data breach always exists. To keep your data from ending up in the wrong hands, put together a loss prevention strategy.
A cybersecurity loss prevention plan includes several types of protection:
- Encryption is the process of encoding data so that only authorized users can access it. Remember that identity and access management is a critical part of your data-centric security.
- Data masking is similar to encryption, in that it makes it difficult for unauthorized users to see data. The difference is that where encryption scrambles data, data masking replaces original information with fake or proxy information. (If you’ve ever done an internal security training course for work, you’ve most likely engaged with masked data.)
- Data loss prevention (DLP) goes beyond merely preventing the loss of data. It constantly monitors all sensitive information within your organization, whether that data is active or stored. DLP systems automate data classification and security, helping to mitigate the risk of internal misuse or mistakes that lead to data breaches. Successful DLP also means no data leaves your organization unless you dictate.
Governance and Compliance
Finally, no cybersecurity strategy is complete without regular data governance and compliance management. Your organization should stay abreast of federal, international, and industry-specific security regulations so you can stay compliant. Non-compliance can result in expensive penalties and fees.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU) requires businesses to protect the data privacy of EU citizens engaging online with third parties. The monetary penalties for violating the GDPR can be onerous, so businesses need to govern their data usage and implement a compliance program to uphold the GDPR’s obligations.
In governing your data-centric security protocols, regular data and cybersecurity audits will assure no new threats go unnoticed. Information security training will help your teams to be hands-on in cybersecurity risk management and can help reduce the chances of an internal leak.
Protect Your Sensitive Data with ZenGRC
ZenGRC from Reciprocity offers a streamlined solution for managing your data-centric security. You can perform auditing, monitor data, and be alerted to new threats or changes across departments all in one place. The dashboard makes it easy to export and share reports with your key stakeholders and supply chain partners.