By |Published On: July 10th, 2023|13 min read|Categories: Data Exfiltration|

How Can You Make Your Data Security Management as Effective as Possible?

Cybersecurity is the number one threat for any business today. But while there are many aspects to this, one of the biggest focuses for every firm must be securing sensitive data from loss, theft or corruption.

While cybersecurity as a whole includes efforts to protect your devices and networks from infiltration, data security management is all about the information your firm holds. This includes intellectual property, research and development, operational documentation, financial details, employee and customer personal information, and much more. In today’s environment, these are your crown jewels and if data is compromised, the consequences can be severe.

Therefore, a comprehensive data security management strategy that focuses on protecting this is a must. But why does this matter, and what should you be doing to implement it?

Why is Data Security Management Important?

The loss of critical data leads to a wide range of problems, whether it is the result of carelessness or malicious activity. As well as the direct cost of fixing a data breach and mitigating against future incidents, there is also the threat of regulatory fines, lost business and reputational damage to take into account. 

According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was $4.34 million, rising to $4.54 million for a ransomware attack,, and expectations are that this will rise again in 2023. Therefore, any firm that isn’t making information security a priority could end up facing a huge bill – which in some cases may even be enough to threaten the future existence of the company.

Why has Data Security Management Gained Prominence?

While data security risk management has long been a major part of any cybersecurity strategy, there are a couple of reasons why it has become an even bigger issue in the last few years. Firstly, the sheer scale of data businesses possess has risen exponentially recently, as big data has become the standard for every firm. What’s more, much of this consists of highly sensitive information that will be particularly enticing to hackers.

Cybercriminals have also been shifting their tactics in order to focus on gaining unauthorized access to business and personal data, rather than techniques such as knocking applications and networks offline. These groups have quickly realized the damage that data loss can do to a business and have sought to exploit this through tactics such as double extortion ransomware.

By stealing data and then holding it hostage – often threatening to release it publicly unless they receive a payment – these criminals increase their chances of making money. Many businesses feel it will be cheaper and less disruptive to give in, as well as avoiding any potential reputation damage. 

However, this is rarely an effective option. Last year, for example, we found the average ransom payout reached more than $258,000 – an increase of 13 percent in just six months. What’s more, most businesses that do pay up will be targeted again, as these businesses will signal very clearly how much they value their sensitive data.

Understanding the Difference Between Data Security and Privacy

Data security is not the only activity firms must conduct to protect their most valuable assets. They also need to take care of data privacy. While these are related concepts, which are sometimes used interchangeably under the umbrella of data protection, there are significant differences between the two terms which means they need to be treated differently.

While security is about protecting assets from loss or theft, privacy is related to issues around how customer data is collected, processed and stored. While there is some overlap, especially when it comes to protecting information from unauthorized access, privacy requires its own set of data management policies and protections such as user consent that – while essential – are not necessarily part of a data security management solution.

What are the Different Types of Data Security?

There are a wide range of methods and techniques businesses can employ in order to achieve strong data protection. Some of the most important include the following.

  • Data encryption – This ensures that even if data itself is compromised, it will be unreadable by anyone without proper authorization and access to the right keys.
  • Access control and authentication – Ensuring only an authorized user can view and edit sensitive data prevents hackers from moving laterally within a business, making it vital for both security and privacy.
  • Email security – This channel remains the most common way for cybercriminals to access networks, so strong protection to guard against issues like phishing are a must.
  • Firewalls – An essential first line of defense in your network security, firewalls play a key role in preventing hackers from entering your network in the first place.
  • Backups and data resilience – If data is deleted or encrypted by ransomware groups, being able to fall back on regularly-updated backups ensures any disruption is kept to a minimum.
  • Data erasure – While usually more of a data privacy concern, holding on to data beyond its useful life gives hackers more options to target, so you need a clear plan for deleting data once it’s served its purpose.
  • Anti data exfiltration (ADX) – A critical last line of defense, ADX tools ensure that even if criminals do breach your network perimeter, they will be unable to remove data from the business.

This is not a comprehensive list, and there’s no one technology that acts as a silver bullet to ensuring data security. Instead, firms must take a holistic approach that encompasses all these elements.

Why Data Security is So Difficult to Achieve

Developing a cybersecurity risk management solution, however, is no easy task. Big data security will require firms to cover a huge amount of ground, while at the same time battling against constantly evolving cyberthreat attack strategies that are always looking for new weaknesses to exploit.

How Does Data Sprawl Impact the Effectiveness of Security Measures?

A major issue is that these assets are no longer held on centralized, on-premise data centers. The vast majority of firms now use public cloud computing services to store and process big data, which presents many new issues for firms to deal with. As well as guaranteeing data security when using these tools, businesses also need to ensure information is protected when in transit to and from such services.

Another issue related to data sprawl is changing working patterns. Remote, hybrid and mobile working all mean employees will be accessing data from beyond the traditional network perimeter, and in many cases, sensitive information is likely to be stored on personal mobile devices that lack the same high levels of protection as enterprise devices.

What Methods do Cybercriminals use to Infiltrate Systems?

There are a wide range of techniques hackers can use when initiating a cyberattack, and these are constantly evolving in order to evade defenses. However, in recent years, a few key themes have emerged.

One is the use of phishing techniques, such as business email compromise, in order to trick users into handing over login credentials or sensitive data. In order to counter these, ongoing user training is essential, as even the most advanced email protection system can’t guarantee 100 percent protection from this type of security threat.

Another increasingly common technique is the use of fileless malware. This can be particularly dangerous as it is able to bypass many traditional cybersecurity defenses that work by looking for telltale signatures within malware. 

Attacks that use legitimate tools such as PowerShell won’t be detectable via this method, so it’s no surprise that more than nine out of ten ransomware attacks use these techniques. Therefore, it’s essential that businesses have contingencies in place such as ADX to ensure they are still protected even if a cyberattack does breach the network perimeter.

What are Data Security Risks and Challenges?

As well as issues such as data sprawl, one of the biggest risks firms face is their own employees. The majority of data breaches can be traced back to these individuals in one way or another, whether this is falling for targeted attacks such as phishing, careless or negligent behavior or actual malice.

More than one in three companies around the world (34 percent) will be affected by these issues every year and, while the majority of these will be the result of negligence, many will be deliberate acts. 

Such an insider threat can be particularly hard to spot as perpetrators will be taking steps to cover their tracks, and in many cases will be able to use their existing knowledge of your operations to find the most sensitive data and know exactly how to disguise their actions to avoid detection.

How to Manage Data Security Threats

To minimize the risk of a data security breach, there are several essential steps every business must take. These include both technology deployments and working on the company culture to ensure there is a focus on security at all levels of the organization.

Who is Responsible for Data Security Management?

The first step is to ensure there are individuals within the organization’s security teams with clearly defined roles who will take on responsibility for data integrity, privacy and security. Regulations such as GDPR actually require firms to designate a data protection controller to manage these activities, so it makes sense for these professionals to take the lead on all aspects of information security management.

These individuals should also take on data management and security activities such as ensuring all systems and applications are fully up-to-date with the latest patches and organizing ongoing employee training to reduce the risk of issues such as phishing attacks.

What Security Measures Must be in Place to Protect Stored Data?

A good cybersecurity strategy must cover a lot of elements to fully protect important data. These include specialized technologies such as cloud security and access control systems, as well as advanced firewalls and intrusion detection systems to ensure network security measures can spot unusual activity within the business, not just on the perimeter.

If a data breach or other security incident does occur, having a clear response plan is essential. When it comes to ransomware, the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre both advise strongly against paying any ransom. These plans must therefore start from the position that firms will not be able to easily recover data and end disruption by paying up.

What is Zero Trust and how Does it Change Security?

A key focus for any data security management strategy should be access control. Obviously, if cybercriminals can’t reach your sensitive data, they can’t steal it, so this must be a top priority.

To prevent unauthorized access, a zero trust approach to data protection is essential. This involves continuously affirming that a user has the necessary permissions and authority to access and modify data, as opposed to the more traditional attitude, where once a user has passed initial checks, they are assumed to be trustworthy and left to their own devices.

This represents a distinct shift in mindset for network security, and so will have to be implemented carefully in order to ensure these tools do not disrupt day-to-day activities. If users find any extra authentication requirements burdensome, they are likely to find workarounds such as using unapproved, non-enterprise grade data storage and processing applications.

Therefore, usability must be taken into account when developing a risk management strategy. All security tools should be robust enough to detect any unusual activity, but also be lightweight and unobtrusive enough not to act as a barrier to legitimate employee behavior.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Related Posts