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What is data security software?

Data security is the practice of protecting digital information from unauthorised access, corruption or theft. The concept encompasses all forms of information security, including physical security of hardware, access controls, logical security for software, even organisational policies and procedures.

Properly implemented data security measures will protect an organisation’s data from cybercrime, human error and even insider threats. However, data security also requires tools and technologies that enhance an organisation’s ability to perceive its own data usage. These utilities can also encrypt, redact and mask sensitive data. Ideally, data security will also automate reporting, streamline audits and aid in meeting regulatory requirements.

Globally, organisations are investing in data security to protect their brands, intellectual capital and customer information, and to provide controls for vital infrastructure. Failure to provide sufficient data security measures, or provision of inadequate measures, can cause a breach. Data breaches can cost millions of dollars in settlements, fines and lost business. In surveys, most consumers say they would drop a company that had a data breach as solid data security software is integral to a company’s ongoing success.

Types of data security

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There are many types of data security available. Some are hardware-based, while most are software-based.

  • Encryption: file and database encryption is a last line of defence for sensitive volumes of data; this can be either hardware- or software-based
  • Data erasure: software to completely overwrite all traces of data; more secure than deletion
  • Data masking: hides personally identifiable information (PII) so that teams can develop apps or train with real data
  • Data discovery and classification: automate the process of identifying sensitive information and assessing then remediating vulnerabilities
  • Data and file activity monitoring: these tools analyse data usage patterns so that security can identify risks, spot anomalies and gauge who accesses data; dynamic blocking and alerting can also be deployed
  • Vulnerability assessment/risk analysis: these tools detect and mitigate vulnerabilities, e.g. misconfiguration or weak passwords; they can identify data sources at risk of exposure
  • Automated compliance reporting: data protection solutions with automated reporting capabilities can provide a centralised repository for enterprise-wide compliance audits

It’s important to note that while encryption is one of the best ways to secure data, software-based encryption is easier to circumvent or remove than hardware-based encryption. If you are serious about employing encryption in your organisation’s data security strategy, invest in hardware-based encryption products.

Data security tools and technologies should understand where data resides, keep track of who is accessing it and block undesirable operations, such as high-risk activities and dangerous file movements.

A comprehensive data security strategy will include people, processes and technologies. Both culture and toolsets are important for establishing appropriate controls and policies. Only a holistic approach to data security can make it a priority in all areas of the enterprise.

Data security strategies

There are numerous policies involving data security that organisations can implement to put them on a better footing. Access management is one such policy. By tightly controlling database, network and admin account access, and restricting privileged access to as few people as possible, organisations can protect their most sensitive information from exposure to more points of failure. When you hear the phrase ‘least-privilege access’, that is a sure indication that the organisation in question is taking access management seriously. In a secure business, the employees should have the access they need to achieve their work tasks, and nothing more.

Application security is another policy for solid data security. Ensure that the employees at your company are always using the most current releases of the software that your company uses, including all patches and updates. This way, you can be confident that any security vulnerabilities identified in the software are not points of entry to your workplace network.

Network and endpoint security monitoring software is also a strong candidate for consideration in any data security plan. Implementing tools such as threat detection and management, as well as response tools and platforms for on-premises systems and cloud platforms alike, can greatly mitigate risks and reduce the chance of a data breach.

However, none of these policies will be effective if employee education is not itself a pillar of an organisation’s data security strategy. Therefore, instruction in the correct use of necessary data security software, and broader instruction in general data security principles such as social engineering and password hygiene, should be a core concern of any organisation, especially those where large proportions of staff handle personally identifying information.

Why invest in data security?

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Data security offers multiple benefits to companies that invest.

  • Safeguarding sensitive information: companies tend to collect large amounts of sensitive and/or personal data. Data security software keeps this data where it is meant to be and avoids the disaster of a data breach.
  • Protecting organisational reputations: a robust data security plan protects privacy for employees, partners and customers, building confidence in your organisation.
  • Preventing data tampering: hackers can delete, corrupt or alter data, insert ransomware, or worse. Effective data security can protect a business from these undesirable outcomes.
  • Surpassing the competition: an organisation with rigorous protections for sensitive data can distinguish itself among its rivals. Any competitor that suffers a data leak will lose much progress and forfeit development opportunities that you will be well-placed to capitalise upon.

Data security software is an indispensable component of any organisation’s IT strategy. Protect your customers and employees with quality security provisions.

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