With data breaches, cyberattacks, and data privacy regulations on the rise, safeguarding sensitive information is no longer optional; it’s a top priority.
Protecting enterprise data has become an imperative for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), and IT professionals. The stakes of data breaches are higher than ever, as customers and clients are increasingly conscious of data privacy and security. Beyond the immediate financial and reputational damage of a cyberattack or breach, organizations also face substantial regulatory fines and legal liabilities when incidents occur.
We often write about data privacy, which typically centers on consumer personal data (or PII, personal identifiable information). But enterprise data — data generated within and by your company — can be just as valuable and important to protect.
So we’ve put together a definitive guide on the topic of enterprise data security for CISOs and other IT professionals. Our article will walk you through different types of enterprise data as well as security best practices and tips for choosing the right security solution.
What is enterprise data?
There are different definitions of enterprise data, but the most common is data that is shared by users throughout an organization, including across geographic locations and remote teams. The scope of enterprise data has expanded significantly in the digital age, bringing new concerns about data protection.
Enterprise data might seem like a self-evident asset, but more than 40% of businesses do not know where all their data resides. Additionally, the varied and dispersed nature of enterprise data makes data management challenging for IT teams — especially because it may be accessed by a number of third-party apps and stored on-prem, in the cloud, or in a mix of hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures.
What data needs to be protected?
Not all enterprise data is created equal; some material is much more sensitive and valuable than the rest. It can be easy to overlook certain types of data, so it’s best to be thorough. To determine what data needs protection, consider whether your organization stores the following:
- Customer data (e.g., names, addresses, credit card numbers)
- Employee information (e.g., social security numbers, health insurance IDs, and other PII)
- Intellectual property (e.g., patents, trade secrets, R&D materials)
- Financial records
- B2B customer data, contracts, and other information from third-party vendors
- Internal communications, including emails and messages sent via apps like Slack
- Marketing campaigns, including digital assets like slide decks, videos, and media
- Strategic planning documents
What is enterprise data security?
Enterprise data security is a comprehensive approach to protecting sensitive information from a wide range of threats, including data breaches, ransomware, unauthorized access, data loss, and insider threats (both malicious and accidental). To address these threats and avoid devastating cyberattacks, your company will need to implement a variety of security measures, practices, and technologies. Key components of a strong enterprise data security strategy include:
Access controls. Implementing strong multi-factor authentication (MFA) and authorization mechanisms — plus enforcing the principle of least privilege to limit access to sensitive data — is vital for keeping data safe. Your company’s access controls may incorporate a mix of role-based access controls (RBAC), rule- or attribute-based access controls, and mandatory or discretionary access controls.
Firewalls. Many businesses will use firewalls to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. It’s also wise to segment your networks to limit lateral movement by hackers.
Data loss prevention (DLP) — and protection: You should consider DLP solutions to monitor, detect, and prevent unauthorized data transfers. But you might also want to employ data loss protection — a proactive approach that protects data before it ever leaves the enterprise environment.
AI and ML: Artificial intelligence and machine learning offer a new boost to security solutions, employing complex algorithms to detect anomalies and potential threats. New AI solutions can be trained to recognize your team’s data use patterns and to respond in real-time when an anomaly is detected.
Endpoint security. It’s important to secure all endpoints — from employee laptops to corporate-owned smartphones to IoT devices — within the enterprise environment. For remote teams with bring-your-own-device policies (BYOD), this can be particularly challenging. Asset discovery, data discovery, and device profiling can help CISOs gain visibility into endpoint vulnerabilities, and endpoint detection and response technologies can help simplify data management.
How does the cloud change enterprise data protection?
The shift to cloud computing has transformed the way organizations store and manage their data, bringing both positives and negatives. While the cloud offers scalability and flexibility, it also introduces new vulnerabilities and access points to the enterprise data environment. To tackle these challenges head-on, CISOs and IT teams need to:
- Understand the shared responsibility model and their cloud provider’s specific security responsibilities.
- Ensure their access controls and other authentication measures extend to cloud services.
- Consider encrypting data before uploading it to the cloud.
- Regularly monitor cloud environments for vulnerabilities and breaches.
- Implement cloud data protection tools to restrict unauthorized access.
How to choose an enterprise data security solution
Protecting sensitive information, whether on-premises or in the cloud, requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses access controls, firewalls, DLP, endpoint security, and more. But the best strategy will still be ineffective if you haven’t chosen the right tools to carry it out. Only by carefully selecting the right enterprise data protection technologies can CISOs and IT professionals safeguard their organization’s most valuable asset: its data.
To aid in your decision-making process, we’ve suggested a handful of criteria to consider in choosing the right data protection solutions.
Works in different architectures. First, you’ll want to consider what kind of functionality you need in which environments. Where will you be deploying your data protection solutions? Is your enterprise data stored exclusively on-prem, in a third-party data center, or in a hybrid architecture with public cloud providers? The ideal solution will recognize that data is increasingly stored across multiple storage services and geographic areas — and it will protect that data wherever it resides
Simplifies and streamlines. Then, you’ll want to find a solution that can seamlessly integrate with your existing architecture. There’s already significant complexity in most enterprise data ecosystems, and data security systems should not add to that complexity. Instead, they should offer a streamlined interface that works well with your existing applications and storage.
Provides resilience. Data resilience is a critical factor in ensuring the continuous protection of enterprise data. Cyberattacks and cloud provider outages can happen at any time, and downtime can be extremely costly. Ideal data security services will provide features like redundancy, failover, and/or disaster recovery capabilities to ensure high availability and resilience.
Scalability. Scalability is another vital factor to consider when choosing an enterprise data security solution. Your organization’s data needs are likely to grow over time, so your security tools should be able to scale seamlessly along with your data processing requirements. They should also be able to adapt as you migrate your data into cloud environments across different storage services and geographic locations.
Outpaces traditional encryption tools. Traditional encryption tools, while effective, are not always sufficient in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Many legacy technologies introduce complexity and performance drawbacks, and some are incompatible with modern architectures. The ideal data security solution will offer advanced protection without creating new issues.
Tackling enterprise data security with ShardSecure
The ShardSecure platform offers a scalable, adaptable solution for enterprise data protection. Our technology provides advanced data security, privacy, and resilience, wherever your data is stored — on-prem, in the cloud, or in hybrid- and multi-cloud environments. Its agentless approach to file-level encryption ensures that data is protected from unauthorized access without introducing complexity or performance drawbacks.
The ShardSecure platform also supports compliance with cross-border data privacy regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Finally, ShardSecure acts as an abstraction layer, allowing organizations to consolidate all their data storage interfaces into one. This approach reduces the complexity associated with migrating to a multi-cloud architecture, and it allows data access to work the same across all clouds without the need to implement specific APIs or connectors.
To learn more about ShardSecure’s benefits for enterprise data security, visit our resources page today.