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How to Secure Sensitive Data When Data Is Always Accessible

Protecting sensitive information from prying eyes or unauthorised access has always been an important part of business long before the digital revolution. While advancing technology is making data more accessible and actionable than ever before, this accessibility becomes a double-edged sword as it allows anyone who has access to the network to also have access to the sensitive data contained within – with the right credentials or if the data is inadvertently left unprotected.

The digital transformation revolution we’ve seen over the past few years has definitely been a huge factor. According to the 2019 Thales Data Threat Report – Global Edition with research and analysis conducted by analyst firm IDC, a whopping 97% of worldwide respondents are using (or in other words, exposing) their sensitive data with digitally transformative technologies.

What sort of data counts as “sensitive” in cloud in this data-rich era?

Well, different companies have different definitions as to what sensitivity is to their organisation. It could be anything from confidential client information, credit card, payment or financial details, trade secrets, personal data of employees/customers, IT/security information, controlled unclassified information, or even business databases or contract records.

Not only has the amount of data, sensitive or otherwise, increased tremendously over the years, but data has also become much more valuable for many organisations and the criminals know this.

While in the past such sensitive data could be kept under physical lock and key, so those who wished to gain access would have to break into business premises to steal them, the recent wave of digitisation has changed all that. Hackers from anywhere in the world could have a go at breaching the virtual defences of any connected organisation to access these data.

Because of these factors, businesses are finding that they have to invest in a robust cybersecurity solution to detect and prevent cyber attacks, build resiliency and ensure that their digital assets are always available. But that’s not nearly enough when it comes to protecting data that is constantly growing, changing and moving against threats that are constantly evolving.

Thus, data protection is becoming absolutely critical as it serves as the last line of defence should threat actors do get through the perimeter controls. In addition, modern businesses require far greater control over their data, which could exist in the form of structured and unstructured data and reside in a number of different data repositories.

All these factors make securing data more complex and difficult than ever. The findings from the aforementioned Thales/IDC report supports this notion, with almost half (44%) of respondents rating complexity as a perceived barrier to implementing data security.
To protect data most effectively, an organisation has to firstly know exactly what data it has and where the data resides. Only then will it be able to analyse the risks and obtain a view of the “who, what, where, when and how” of each data access.

Knowing this, tech giant IBM has over the years developed, refined and enhanced its Guardium Data Protection Platform in order to provide a more comprehensive approach to protecting a business’ most sensitive and valuable digital assets.

The platform allows security teams to automatically discover and classify all data sources that contain sensitive information and assess database vulnerabilities and configuration flaws. It can also continuously monitor who is accessing (or trying to access) sensitive data in real time, and even track activities of end users who access data indirectly through enterprise applications.

IBM Guardium solutions can monitor and enforce a wide range of policies, including sensitive data access, database change control, and privileged user actions. Furthermore, it can also automate the enforcement of security policies through the use of customisable classification labels and entitlement management capabilities.

When it comes to data protection, IBM Guardium addresses data encryption at rest and in transit, static and dynamic data masking, and other technologies for protecting data integrity and confidentiality. Automated advanced analytics and machine learning allows the solution to spot and put a stop to any unusual and risky behaviour.

In a nutshell, it is a platform that leverages automation, centralisation and integration in order to help organisations simplify the increasingly complex administration of data security, prevent data leaks and ensure information integrity in the data centre.

Without a doubt, securing sensitive data is something that every digitally transformed organisation has to get right amidst today’s ever-evolving cyber threat landscape and establishment of increasingly stringent compliance mandates.

On 12th March 2018, IBM will be hosting a meet-up session at their offices in Bandar Utama to discuss relevant data management and governance challenges faced by Malaysian organisations.

At the event, themed “Discovering, Classifying and Securing Sensitive Data in a World Where Data Accessibility is the Norm”, attendees will be able to hear expert speakers from CyberSecurity Malaysia and IBM who will explain how they can build a strategy to protect data in a world of escalating threats and how technology can help get them there. Attendees can also participate in a panel discussion to discuss these issues with their peers.

Seats are limited so reserve your seat quickly!

If you are interested to attend, click here to register.

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