The digital revolution has given businesses the means to know more about their customers by collecting, storing, and analyzing data about their behaviors. For many companies, it's no longer about selling things. For customers, it's not only about buying things. What customers are looking for are experiences, and companies savvy enough to understand this realize that the trail of data that customers leave as they engage via the Internet searching for new and exciting experiences is the new gold. But in the quest for that delightful customer experience, there is a risk that personal information is compromised and could turn up in the hands of malicious actors who can do us harm and turn what started as a convenient and easy way to do shopping into a living hell.
Today, customers and businesses realize that data is under constant threat by individual hackers and state sponsored actors. The perfect data security system that eliminates risk entirely doesn't exist. Locking data in a communication-less vault, physical or virtual, could be a solution but it's not an option. Data is valuable only when it can be utilized and shared, internally or externally with trusted players in order to realize a business gain.
The temptation to steal the data gold of state secrets, personal compromising information, trade secrets, or the next big product features and capabilities will continue to exist and no security program is strong enough to always guarantee its safety. One attempt in this approach is to use strong encryption algorithms to encrypt critical data as it travels from computer system to computer system or at their storage site, with only a few trusted resources holding the key for decryption and even then keys can be stolen.
What is the Right Amount of Security?
How do we make sure to protect data and should we secure it all? Surely, not all data is gold. You have to identify the nuggets of information that are truly valuable and deserve to be protected. Companies need to come up with strategies that are adaptable to threats, responsive to technological innovations, and cost effective to implement. It must also take into consideration the value and classification of the information and how it's used in its daily business operations. Data is treasured when it's believed that extracting the information it represents can provide insights on patch management that can be turned into action or influence decisions that will increase performance and profits.
What are Good Practices?
Securing data should start at the source, at the very customer facing processes with additional data loss prevention systems, or updated dlp systems, running continuously to monitor communication channels and spring into action when security is compromised.
A good security program must be able to come up with solutions that clearly identify owners and leaders from all the business areas that are touched by, consume, or influence information as data goes through its life cycle. Clear accountability and awareness are key for successful risk management and mitigation. This mindset helps to create a better understanding and acceptance of security policies and facilitates enforcement of the security controls that need to be put in place. It's well known that people constitute the weakest link in a security chain and the right mindset embedded in all employees will go a long way towards creating a more secure business environment.
Like a project or a business transaction, data monitoring and storage goes through a life cycle. A good protection system must account for it, understand the associated processes, and effectively manage the control points at each stage of the life cycle. The data life cycle is supported by the servers, networks, storage devices, governance structures, services, and interfaces that together constitute the information technology infrastructure of an organization. All of it must be taken into account in any comprehensive and effective data security strategy.
Businesses must be careful not to go overboard with a lock down approach to data security. Securing the gold nuggets of business data must be balanced with effective monitoring and other control measures that ensure low friction use in business objectives and processes. A sensible approach to data security risk management will greatly enhance both information security and the ability of an organization to identify growth opportunities while keeping customers confidence in its ability to keep their personal information safe.