Data-Centric Security: What is it and Why Does it Matter?
What is Data-Centric Security?
Data-centric security is all the technology, approaches, and policies that encompass being laser-focused on protecting actual data entrusted to organizations, throughout that data’s lifecycle, versus focusing primarily on infrastructure risks.
A data-centric security framework is comprised of layers of solutions designed to understand, govern, and secure sensitive data – whether on-premises or in the cloud. This model approaches data security beyond the traditional, infrastructure-focused data security measures most organizations already take.
No matter the industry, a data security breach is an increasingly likely scenario that all businesses must mitigate. With escalating cybercrime, growth in cloud computing, an explosion in mobile device usage, and varying technology and applications, an infrastructure-only approach could potentially allow access to all data once compromised versus a data-centric approach, which focuses on protecting the data regardless of the breach.
Data Security Budgets are Increasing
A 2021 Standard & Poor’s survey revealed 58 percent of respondents planned to increase data security spending, with 16 percent planning a significant bump. Triggering this spending spree: remote work and the risk of errors; the need for secure, efficient collaboration, increased compliance requirements, and more sharing of information.
In fact, Gartner has forecasted that security and risk management spending worldwide will grow 12.4% to reach $150.4 billion in 2021. Even with that investment, the number of data breaches is increasing. The pervasiveness of data and complexity of environments continue to increase and growing vulnerability around sensitive data is here to stay. Organizations need to consider if merely continuing to beef up their core defences—the systems, applications, devices, and networks that enclose data—is enough.
With more apps, data, networks, and logins than ever before, sensitive data may be at risk out of sight and beyond the reach of security teams. Gaps in security policy and process and a policy of “building walls” with strong perimeter-based security, authentication, encryption, and more will sometimes fail.
Four Key Gaps in Information Architecture
There are four key gaps in a data security architecture that revolve around employee and external partner behaviors and can only be remedied with a data-centric security strategy and culture. These pain points can pose serious risks in terms of maintaining compliance and can also result in a need to continually play catch-up and remediate.
The Behavior Gap
Usability poses a major challenge to organizations large and small. People simply want to find the fastest, most convenient way of doing something. In fact, human error is still the number one cause of data breaches in 2021. Adding sensitive data to a USB, copying unsecured documents, and bypassing secure FTP servers are just a few of the ways employees and partners fail to adopt the security processes in place.
The Visibility Gap
Sensitive data travels. The average employee sends and receives tens of thousands of emails annually, and many receive files not meant for their eyes. Knowing who accesses data once it’s shared beyond a business’s devices, networks, and applications and how it is used lies outside monitoring, auditing, and tracking technologies.
Where files and data are shared outside your organization, the nature of the information within them cannot be tracked or audited once it leaves your server without additional data-centric-focused technologies in place.
The Control Gap
Lost files or leaked information can go beyond an organization’s control. However, Identity and Access Management, Mobile Device Management and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) systems, all can be layered effectively to help to monitor and control employee access to data. But data that leaves systems and networks is effectively still out of your control.
Once leaked or lost, serious and costly consequences can occur, particularly around compliance violations.
The Response Time Gap
There is a time lag between the uptake of a new application or behavior and the ability of users to understand and respond. It's this gap that often has security teams in a reactionary mode and this gap can take weeks or months to identify, time when sensitive information can be vulnerable.
Technology changes quickly and many organizations with a BYOD (bring your own device) policy and changing expectations of how to work also impacts the gap in response time. In the rush to get business done, security is often left to play catch-up and security breaches may be the unintended consequence.
Security needs to operate at the speed of business, with flexibility to adapt to the unknown. An organization’s response time gap may be measured in days, weeks, months, or quarters. The longer it is, the greater the risk of people taking measures into their own hands, or of sensitive data going untracked into new applications.
Closing the Data Security Gap with Data-Centric Security Strategies
Collaboration, innovation, partnerships, and business development are the behaviors that drive business growth, and all are dependent on trusted exchanges of vital information.
When these new unforeseen breaches take place, organizations must respond by evolving from traditional, infrastructure-centric security measures with multiple layers of defense, to data-centric approaches that protect what really matters: the data itself.
DLP solutions, data encryption solutions, and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are great tools to incorporate if they are able to accurately understand the value, sensitivity, and context of the data they are trying to protect. They can be very effective on their own, in some circumstances, but often can benefit from integrating as a more rounded solution and augmented with data classification technology.
Businesses need to be able to guarantee file-level security—to secure, track, and share any kind of data, no matter where it’s stored or located, or how it travels with robust policy enforcement, strong encryption, and strict access controls. Data-centric security solutions also enable employees to collaborate freely while ensuring a high level of security and visibility and be able to revoke access to sensitive data that has been shared by email mistakenly. Further, by adding a cloud-based tether, access to data can be managed with access rights and the data decrypted if the person is approved.
Data, as we well know, is the lifeblood of business today, and when it’s locked down too tightly as some solutions do, business slows down. When organizations adopt a data-centric security solution that secures sensitive data through its entire life cycle; everywhere it travels, no matter who has it or where it’s stored, business can be carried on securely. By adding in this additional layer of data-centric security, data is protected in motion, in use, or at rest both inside and outside the organization.
Layer Data-Centric Security Solutions for Ultimate Data Security
To make a data security investment pay off, it’s important that organizations first know what data needs protection and also its value. Data classification technology is the foundation of data-centric security. With data classification in place to identify and value data in place as a best practice, organizations can accelerate further data protection adoption measures and help reduce user error, as the questions surrounding how to handle particular data are automatically addressed.
Once classified, controlling and securing data requires protections beyond those necessary infrastructure barriers, Data loss protection (DLP) and email security solutions actually surround data increasingly vulnerable to phishing and spoofing threats, ransomware and spyware, and inappropriate sharing. Unlike some all-out “blocks” which brings business to a screeching halt, robust DLP and email security solutions protect sensitive data through encryption and automated processes while allowing legitimate communications to continue. solutions actually surround data increasingly vulnerable to phishing and spoofing threats, ransomware and spyware, and inappropriate sharing. Unlike some all-out “blocks” which brings business to a screeching halt, robust DLP and email security solutions protect sensitive data through encryption and automated processes while allowing legitimate communications to continue.
Managed file transfer (MFT) solutions secure these identified and sanitized files in motion and at rest. Centralized, enterprise-level technology can simplify, integrate, and move data anywhere securely, swiftly, and across all environments and applications with critical encryption and automation functionality. Combined with content analysis and adaptive DLP, sharing files with MFT allows for more secure, streamlined collaboration and exchanges.
No matter where files travel, data-centric digital rights management software encrypts and controls access to sensitive data to ensure protection is placed around access, use, and intellectual property inside and outside the organization. The foundational data classification applied at the onset automatically triggers data-centric policy enforcement all the way through to ultimate deletion of data.
Protecting data as well as preventing breaches that reach data requires a suite of security solutions. HelpSystems delivers. Discover data-centric solutions that are easy-to-implement enterprise wide when you request a data security demonstration.