We often hear about the need to ensure the security of networks and endpoints. And certainly, it’s extremely important for businesses to keep hackers and other bad actors from breaking into end-user devices and enterprise networks to wreak havoc on organizations and their customers.
But the data that’s contained in the devices and moving through the networks is the real valuable resource that needs to be protected—and is often the target of those doing the attacking. As such, securing the data itself needs to be a high priority for companies.
As more organizations prepare to migrate data to the cloud, they need to take a close look at how secure that data is at all times. Failing to do so can result in serious damage—either through lost or stolen data or harm to a company’s brand and reputation because of a breach.
The destruction caused by data breaches can be significant. IBM and the Ponemon Institute in 2016 estimated that the average data breach costs $4 million, and its effects go well beyond regulatory fines, legal action and lost revenue. A company’s long-term viability can be at stake when it comes to significant security incidents.
One key to preventing devastating data breaches is to have visibility into the location of sensitive data—such as customer records and intellectual property—as well as who has access to which data. Without that visibility, it becomes almost impossible to safeguard the data against breaches.
Cybersecurity teams need to know, for example, who has been accessing critical customer information. It’s one thing if authorized users in sales and marketing have such access. But what if an unauthorized employee from another department has gained access? Even worse, what if someone has left the company and now works for a competitor but still has access to customer data?
Another consideration, and a good reason for having visibility into corporate data, is the fact that sensitive information might be part of the company’s structured and unstructured data. Not all data is equal when it comes to value to the organization and regulatory restrictions. It’s one thing to have general product information available on social media. But what if a customer’s personally identifiable information or patient records should end up being exposed?
Then there’s the matter of the physical location of data. An organization needs to know where its data borders are and which data must reside in certain places in order to comply with regulatory audits.
All of these issues require visibility into data. That doesn’t prevent bad actors from trying to break in. But it does give organizations the opportunity to spot intrusions early and minimize the damage.