A Complete Guide to Data Security

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This article focuses on everything you need to know about data security. We will cover 1) the basics you need to know about data security and 2) how to secure your data.

DATA SECURITY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

What is Data Security?

In the most basic terms, Data Security is the process of keeping data secure and protected from not only unauthorized access but also corrupted access. The main focus of data security is to make sure that data is safe and away from any destructive forces. Data is stored as rows and columns in its raw form in the databases, PCs as well as over networks. While some of this data may be not that secretive, other might be of private value and importance. But unauthorized access to such private information or data can cause many problems such as corruption, leakage of confidential information and violation of privacy.

Thus, the importance of Data Security comes into play. Data Security is in the form of digital privacy measures that are applied to avoid this unauthorized access to websites, networks and databases. There are many ways of protecting or securing data which is important and some of them include encryption, strong user authentication, backup solutions and data erasure. There are many international laws and standards that govern data security measures. Data Protection Acts are implemented to ensure that personal data is accessible to those whom it may concern.

Business data protection

While all kinds of personal data are important, one aspect where the need and requirement of data security are most rampant is businesses and industries. Most businesses have massive amounts of data or information which they may want to keep confidential and protected from others. The process of protecting this kind of data is known as Business Data Protection. Often, organizations struggle to create real-time security policies as the data keeps growing. It also finds it tough to monitor all data from one central location in big data platforms. But special IT teams are then created to solve these matters and provide complete data protection.

Data management

Besides securing and protecting data, it is also important to properly manage and monitor it. Data management is the development as well as the execution of the processes, procedures, architectures and policies which administers the complete data lifecycle requirements of a company. This particular definition of data management is very broad and can be applied to any profession or field.

Data management is important because, without proper management of data, it would be difficult to monitor and protect it. If data is not well defined, it could be misused in various types of applications. If data is not well defined, it would be impossible to meet the needs of the users.

Why is Data Security Important?

Data security is very important or critical for most companies and businesses. Besides formal organizations, it is also very critical for home computer users as well. Information like client details, bank details, account details, personal files, etc. must be well protected for everyone on the planet because if it gets into wrong hands, it can be misused easily. Such information can be hard to replace and potentially dangerous. By securing such data or information, one can protect the files and avoid facing any difficulties.

The following are some of the reasons why data security is important:

  • Your reputation may be affected – You work very hard to establish the name of your business but when a data breach occurs, the reputation that you built may be affected by just a single stroke. This is because your business also has confidential information of customers or clients, and once data is lost, you might fall short of all explanations.
  • Threats are on an increase – Another reason why data security is important is because the threats are on an increase these days and without securing your data, you cannot expect to run a business or even go on as a home PC user. This is because of the emergence of mobile devices, internet, and cloud computing, etc.
  • It’s expensive and complicated to fix – One may recover from the dent in the reputation but rebounding from the technical aspects of data breaches can be tough. It is diffiult to fix such problems without spending great deal of time and money.

What could a data breach cost a business?

  • Damage to reputation – A data breach could be very harmful to an organization. It does not only cause loss of data, but also causes damage to the reputation of a company. The company whose data is breached may be seen by others as one which was casual in terms of data protection.
  • Loss of files – Accidental loss of files or database of the customers may leave a company unable to carry out further marketing.
  • Loss of confidentiality – Once private and confidential information is accessed by a second party or unauthorized party, disclosure of sensitive data may occur, and this may be bad for any company or business.
  • Threat of money loss – When loss of important bank account details and other such data occurs, there is a threat of money loss as well. When an unauthorized person or party gets to know bank details, then this may lead them to use passwords to steal money.

How data security and privacy help your company?

  • Prevention of data breaches – One of the main reasons for the importance of data security is that it helps in the prevention of data getting into the wrong hands or breaching. By avoiding disclosure or leakage of sensitive information, one can also avoid loss of finances.
  • Protection of privacy – While there is some information that is business related, there is some which is just of private value. Thus by protecting data, one also tends to achieve protection of privacy.
  • Reduce compliance cost – Another reason data security is helpful is because it can also help reduce the compliance costs. It does so by automating and centralizing controls and simplifying audit review procedures.
  • Ensure data integrity – It helps to prevent unauthorized data changes, data structures, and configuration files.

HOW TO SECURE DATA?

Data Securing Technologies

  • Disk Encryption: Disk encryption is one of the most commonly opted for data security technology or methods. This is a technology through which encryption of data on a hard disk drive takes place. This technology takes place in two major ways – software or hardware. In disk encryption, data is converted into unreadable codes that cannot be accessed or deciphered by anyone who is unauthorized. There are several ways and tools to carry out disk encryption, and these tools may vary in the security offered and features used. Even though there are many benefits of using this method, there are also certain weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
  • Software and hardware based ways to protect data: Besides disk encryption, both software and hardware based ways can also be used to protect data. On one hand, software-based security solutions encrypt the data to protect it from theft, on the other, hardware-based solutions can prevent read and write access to data. Hardware based security solutions offer very strong protection against unauthorized access and tampering. But in the case of software-based solutions, a hacker or a malicious program can easily corrupt the data files and make the system unusable and files unreadable. This is why, hardware-based solutions are mostly preferred over software based ones. The hardware-based systems are more secure due to the physical access required to compromise them. This system is much more effective in the situation where an operating system is more vulnerable to threats from viruses and hackers.
  • Backups: One of the easiest yet most effective ways to avoid data loss or to lose important and crucial files is by taking a backup of your data regularly. There are many ways to take backup and it is up to you how many copies of your data you wish to keep. While external hard disks are a common way to take backup, these days cloud computing too proves to be a cheap and easy way to maintain a backup of all files at a safe location. Of course, a backup won’t prevent data loss but would at least ensure that you don’t lose any information of importance.
  • Data masking: Data masking is another data securing technology that can be brought into use by those who wish to secure their data. Another term that is used to refer to data masking is data obfuscation and is the process through which one can hide original data with random characters, data or codes. This method is especially very useful for situations where you wish to protect classified data and do not want anyone to access it or read it. This is a good way to let the data be usable to you but not to the unauthorized hacker or user.
  • Data erasure: Data erasure, which is only known as data wiping and data clearing is a software-based method of overwriting information or data and aims to totally destroy all data which may be present on a hard disk or any other media location. This method removes all data or information but keeps the disk operable.

Data Protection Principles

The Data Protection Act requires one to follow certain rules and measures when it comes to securing or protecting data. These rules apply to everything one does with personal data, except the case when one is entitled to an exemption. The following are the main data protection principles one must follow:

  • Personal Data must be processed lawfully and fairly.
  • Personal data should be relevant, adequate and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes due to which they have been processed.
  • Personal data must be obtained just for one or more than one specified and lawful reasons and must not be processed in any way that is not compatible with those reason/reasons.
  • Personal data should be accurate and should be kept up to date wherever it is necessary to keep it up to date.
  • Personal data which is processed for any reason or reasons should not be kept for any time longer than required for that reason or reasons.
  • Personal data should not be processed according to the rights of data subjects under this Act.
  • The suitable technical, as well as organizational measures, must be taken against any unauthorized processing or unlawful processing of personal data and also against any accidental destruction or loss of or damage of personal data.
  • Personal data shall not be transferred to a territory or country outside the economic area of the data owner unless that region ensures the right level of protection for the freedom and rights of data subjects in relation to data’s processing.

Essential Steps Every Business Must Take to Secure Data

  • Establish strong passwords: The first step that every business must most take is to establish strong passwords for all your accounts, bank details and other kinds of accounts. Also, one must try to keep very strong passwords that may not be easily guessed by anyone. The passwords must be a combination of characters and numbers. The password must be easy to remember for you but should not be your birthday, your name, or any other personal detail that anyone else could guess. The password must be between 8-12 characters long, at least.
  • Strong Firewall: Like antiviruses are for your files, firewalls are for protection. You must establish a strong firewall in order to protect your network from unauthorized access or usage. The firewall protects your network by controlling internet traffic that comes into and goes out of your business. A firewall works pretty much the same way across the board. Make sure you select a very strong firewall to ensure network safety.
  • Antivirus protection: Antivirus and antimalware solutions are also extremely important for data security and must be installed on your systems. You must opt for the strongest antivirus protection software not just on your PCs and laptops but also on your mobile devices. They help you to fight unwanted threats to your files and data.
  • Secure Systems: Data loss can also be caused in case your laptop or mobile device is stolen. Thus, you must take some extra steps to ensure the further safety of these devices. The easiest way to secure your laptops is to encrypt them. Encryption software help to make the information look coded so that no one who is unauthorized can view or access your data without a password. Besides this, you must protect your laptop falling into the wrong hands. Make sure you never leave it in your car on unattended in the office, etc.
  • Secure Mobile Phones: Smartphones too hold a lot of important and confidential data such as messages, bank account details, and emails, etc. thus it is important to secure mobile phones as well. There are many ways to secure your mobile phones and some of them include, establishing strong passwords, to have encryption software, to have remote wiping enabled and to opt for phone finding apps so that you can locate your mobile phone if it is lost or stolen.
  • Backup regularly: In order to avoid loss of data due to violation of data security, it is important to backup all your data regularly and keep it stored somewhere safe where it cannot be accessed or violated by anyone. One of the best way to backup your data is to either store it on hard disks or store it over cloud computing. One must backup data regularly, most preferably every week. This ensures that even if data is lost, you can have access to it, and it isn’t compromised.
  • Monitor well: Another practice that you must follow in order to secure your data is to monitor it well and diligently. You must always keep track of your data, know which data is stored where and use good monitoring tools that can help prevent data leakage. The data leakage software that you choose must have set up of key network touchpoints that help to look for specific information coming out of internal network. Such software can be easily configured or customized to look for codes, credit card numbers or any other kind of information which is relevant to you.
  • Surf Safely: Your data safety is in your hands, and if you are careful, there will be no way anyone would be able to violate it. Thus, it is important to be careful how you surf the net and what precautions you follow. It is common for us sometimes to click on certain links or attachments thinking that they are harmless, but they could lead to data hacking or planting of malicious files. This may infect your system and may squeeze out information. Thus, it is important to surf safely, use internet security software and never give out personal information and bank details to sites that are not trustworthy. Always beware of the vulnerabilities and do your best to avoid being casual when using the internet.

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