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Learn about data security and the role it plays in many data protection solutions in Data Protection 101, our series on the fundamentals of data security.
DEFINITION OF DATA SECURITY
Data Security involves putting in place specific controls, standard policies, and procedures to protect data from a range of issues, including:
- Unauthorized access
- Accidental loss
Data security can include certain technologies in administrative and logistical controls. It can even incorporate the physical aspect of security to limit access, manipulation, or disclosure of sensitive data. Most organizations, if not all, have some type of data security controls, some much more robust than others.
These controls can also include implementing safeguards to prevent access to areas such as websites, computers, and any kind of personal or business databases. As such, data security remains one of the most important considerations for any serious entity.
BENEFITS OF DATA SECURITY
Loss or unauthorized disclosure of valuable data can be quite costly to an organization. It's the reason data security is quite useful. For instance;
- Safeguards all valuable information: Sensitive information is never supposed to leak. Whether we are talking of bank customers’ details or a hospital’s patients’ information; these are crucial information that are not meant for every prying eye. Data security keeps all this information exactly where it's meant to be.
- Important for your reputation: Any organization that can keep secrets also helps to build confidence among all stakeholders including customers, who know that their data is both safe and secure.
- Marketing and competitive edge: Keeping sensitive information from illegal access and disclosure keeps you ahead of your competitors. Preventing any access to your future development or expansion plans is key in maintaining your competitive advantage.
- Saves on development and support costs: The earlier you plug security features into your application, the less costs you may incur from any future support and development costs in terms of code modifications.
POTENTIAL RISKS OF POOR DATA SECURITY
The more technologically advanced businesses become, the more susceptible their systems become to attacks. Poor data security can subject your company to the following dangers:
- Costly fines and litigations: Data breaches are usually serious offenses which can lead to legal actions from the customer against an organization. Failure to comply with any applicable state or federal data protection regulations can result in fines exceeding hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the breach, the number of individuals affected, and the company’s attempts (or lack thereof) to notify consumers and mitigate risks.
- Reputation damage: Privacy and security of data are important, especially to your customers. If you don’t meet your end of this bargain – keeping your customers’ data secure in exchange for their business – your reputation as an organization can go up in flames. Customers tend to lose faith and confidence in a company that cannot keep their private information well-protected. Loss of business and a damaged reputation can often be even more costly over time than the hefty regulatory fines you also might be facing.
- Loss of business: Cyber attackers have the potential to not only access and exploit sensitive information; they can also delete the same information. They can even introduce a highly destructive virus which infects the whole system, such as ransomware, requiring the payment of a ransom fee in order to regain access to your networks and sensitive data.
Poor data security could lead to an event which negatively impacts your business. Even the ability to conduct normal business may be changed. Again, it is a trickle-down effect, in which you may not be able to render the required services, leading to legal action and probable loss of revenue.
BEST PRACTICES FOR DATA SECURITY
As an organization keen to make data security your number one agenda, the following best practices can prove to be quite useful:
- Use both external and internal firewalls: These are a sure and effective defense against any kind of cyber-attack. Using both types of firewalls gives you even more protection for your data.
- Personnel training: Ensure that all employees who access the networks have the necessary knowledge regarding the company’s security policies and guidelines. They should also be held accountable while also understanding actions that can be taken against them in the event of data breaches.
- Enforce data backup: All data, whether the HR database, electronic spreadsheets, or accounts files, should be backed up. In the event of hardware or software failure, breach, or any other error to data; a backup allows for business to continue with minimal interruption. Storing the files elsewhere can also quickly determine how much data was lost and/or corrupted.
So, in case of accidental data loss, you have a fallback plan. The best method is to have all data stored on a secure cloud as well. Any backups you have made should be kept in separate locations from the primary location.
It does not matter how large or small your business is, you need to prioritize data security. It is a critical factor which helps to safeguard all valuable information and keeps your business running smoothly.