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A Guide to Enterprise Data Protection Best Practices

by Chris Brook on Tuesday January 16, 2024

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For most crafts, following best practices can help form a strong foundation. Enterprises looking to embrace data protection best practices should consider the following methods to ensure data - both company and user - is kept safe and secure.

As companies move towards increased digital transformation, protecting data becomes even more critical to ensure the safety and integrity of their digital operations. These protection methods are often combined to provide a multi-layered approach to data protection.
 

However, they need to be guided by the best practices available to be effective. 

What Is Enterprise Data Protection?

Enterprise data protection refers to the strategies, processes, tools, and methodologies to safeguard an organization's data from breaches, theft, or loss. This involves many tasks, including data encryption, backup, tokenization, and business continuity planning. 

This helps ensure the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of an organization's critical data while also managing compliance with data privacy regulations. It is becoming increasingly crucial due to the rise of cloud services, remote workstations, and sophisticated cyber threats.

Why Is Data Protection Important for Enterprises?

Data protection is important for enterprises for several reasons:

  • Legal Compliance: Various laws and regulations require businesses to manage and protect their data. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and legal consequences.
  • Protect Intellectual Property: For many businesses, the data they own is their most valuable asset. It's important to protect this data from theft or misuse.
  • Maintain Customer Trust: Consumers expect companies to protect their data. Any data breach can damage a company's reputation and customer trust.
  • Avoid Business Disruption: Data breaches can lead to significant downtime and disruption, impacting a company's operations and finances.
  • Prevent Financial Loss: The cost of a data breach can be enormous, including direct financial loss, remediation costs, regulatory fines, and potential lawsuits.
  • Competitiveness: In highly competitive marketplaces, data protection can serve as a key differentiator for businesses that handle sensitive client information.
  • Cybersecurity: With the rise of sophisticated cyber threats, advanced threat protection has become increasingly essential to secure the enterprise from these potential attacks. 
  • Enable Data-Driven Decision Making: Proper data protection, guided by adequate data governance policies, lets businesses use their data more effectively. As a result, they make data-driven decisions without fear of compromising sensitive information.

What Are the Different Types of Enterprise Data Protection?

Enterprise data protection strategies employ various methods to safeguard data integrity, availability, and confidentiality. Here are some of the different types of enterprise data protection:

Data Encryption

This method converts plaintext data into an encoded version called ciphertext using an encryption key. Only someone possessing the key can decipher and read the data. Encryption is applied for data at rest, data in use, and data in transit.

Data Masking

This method hides sensitive information by replacing it with made-up information or characters. It is often used in non-production environments to protect data during application testing or analytics.

Data Backup

Regular backups of data ensure that even in the event of data loss or corruption, a recent copy is available for recovery. Backups can be stored on-site, off-site, or in the cloud.

Data Obfuscation

This method intentionally obfuscates data to make it more difficult to understand, alter, or extract. It’s useful for protecting complex and critical data, and the security of data is to be enhanced.

Access Control

This includes user permissions, two-factor authentication, and role-based access control (RBAC). These systems control who can access data and what they can do with it once they have access.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP tools help prevent unauthorized access to or disclosure of sensitive information. These tools can detect and prevent potential data breaches by monitoring, detecting, and stopping data in motion, in use, and at rest.

Data Erasure

Also known as data wiping or data clearing, is a software-based method of overwriting the data to completely destroy all electronic data residing on a hard disk drive or other digital media.

Anomaly Detection

This process identifies patterns in data that do not conform to expected behavior. It helps detect unauthorized or malicious activity.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

These systems identify potentially harmful activities in a network and take corrective action.

What Are Enterprise Data Protection Best Practices?

  • Data Inventory: Keep track of all data assets and classify them based on their importance or sensitivity to know where the most sensitive data resides and how it's being used or shared.
  • Implement Strong Access Controls: Define and strictly enforce user access controls and privileges to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. Regularly update these controls to reflect any changes in roles or departures from the company.
  • Encryption: Employ data encryption to secure sensitive data in transit and at rest. This can prevent data from being readable or useful to those without decryption keys.
  • Use Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools: These DLP tools and solutions help monitor and protect data in use, in motion, and at rest by identifying and preventing potential breaches.
  • Regular Backups and Recovery Plan: Regularly back up all important data and have a data recovery plan for scenarios such as data corruption, accidental deletion, or ransomware attacks.
  • Regular Audits: Conduct regular audits of your data protection measures to ensure they are working effectively and also to identify any potential vulnerabilities.
  • Employee Training: Regularly train employees about the latest threats and best practices for data security. People are often the weakest link in security, so it's crucial to ensure they are knowledgeable and diligent.
  • Implement Multi-factor Authentication: This adds a layer of security when users access sensitive data, ensuring that even if passwords are compromised, unauthorized users still cannot gain access.
  • Keep Software Up to Date: Regularly update software and systems to benefit from the latest security patches and updates.
  • Monitor and Respond to Threats: Use tools and systems to monitor for potential threats or suspicious activity and have a plan in place to respond quickly to limit data breaches. 
  • Data Retention and Disposal Policy: Have clear policies about how long to hold onto data and when and how to dispose of it safely, reducing the data volume that could be breached. 
  • Compliance: Make sure your data protection strategies align with the requirements of regulations like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, etc., depending on your industry and location.

What Are Enterprise Data Protection Challenges and Threats?

Enterprise data protection presents several challenges and threats that can hinder the effective safety and usability of organizational data. Here are some of them:

  • Increased Cyberattacks: Today's digital world is encountering an increasing number of cyberattacks. Attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, making it hard to combat these threats. These include hacking, phishing, ransomware, and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs).
  • Data Sprawl: As businesses expand, the amount of data they generate and collect also proliferates, often stored in different locations or systems. This makes it challenging to monitor all this data, increasing the risk of security breaches.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Companies must comply with several regulations regarding data protection, such as GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, etc. These laws regularly change and differ between regions, making them hard to keep up with and implement.
  • Insider Threats: Often, the threat comes from within the organization. Employees with access to sensitive information can accidentally or intentionally misuse it, leading to data breaches.
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policies: With employees bringing their devices to work, the risk of data breaches increases. This is because corporate IT teams often have no control over these devices, making it hard to ensure their security.
  • Shadow IT: Unsanctioned use of software or services without the knowledge of the IT team can expose the organization to risks and vulnerabilities as these platforms are not subject to the company's security protocols.
  • Lack of Skilled Personnel: Many organizations lack trained staff who can properly manage data or understand and solve complex data protection issues.
  • Cost: Premium data protection solutions can be costly, posing a challenge for small and medium businesses.
  • Data Integrity: Maintaining clean, accurate, and reliable data is a challenge as it involves the prevention of errors and corruption during transmission and storage. 

Learn How Digital Guardian Can Guide Your Enterprise Data Protection Best Practices

At Digital Guardian, our solutions offer a range of protections designed to fit organizations of different sizes and industries. 
 

We offer various approaches to safeguarding sensitive data and information from potential threats and breaches, including DLP, IP protection, insider threat protection, and the ability to work with Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB), to keep your data secure wherever it goes.

Schedule a demo with us today to learn how to guide your enterprise data protection techniques.


 

Tags:  Data Protection

Chris Brook

Chris Brook

Chris Brook is the editor of Digital Guardian’s Data Insider blog. He is a cybersecurity writer with nearly 15 years of experience reporting and writing about information security, attending infosec conferences like Black Hat and RSA, and interviewing hackers and security researchers. Prior to joining Digital Guardian–acquired by Fortra in 2021–he helped launch Threatpost, an independent news site that was a leading source of information about IT and business security for hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide.

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