The importance of your data as an asset is second to your people. This means you must do everything possible to protect it, which has grown increasingly challenging in today’s high-tech world. Data protection means not only ensuring that no unauthorized users outside the organization gain access to it, but also that the internal access, transfer, storage, and management of the data are strictly controlled. The following holistic data tips will help you do that.
1. Produce a Data Map
The first step in protecting your data is to know what data you have, where it’s located, and who can access it. To do a thorough job of this, you need to have a complete record of every data asset you have. This record should include the data classification, where it is stored, who has access to it, and who owns it.
Your data should also be properly labeled to identify and retrieve when needed easily. Automated data scanning is a recommended tool for finding required information based on metadata, such as data type, schema, and columns.
2. Ensure Accountability
The role and responsibility of each data asset you have must be thoroughly documented. You want to consider the following:
- How the data is used
- Who is accountable for it
- How to manage it if regulatory or business requirements change
- The process in place to withdraw access when required
- Whether there is a method of data monitoring and reporting in place
- How the lifecycle of the data is managed
- Whether permissions management is automated
Your data lifecycle should include access by not only internal employees but also external partners, suppliers, vendors, and customers. Access controls can be established based on role and permissions management will ensure data is only accessed by those who need it and only when they need it.
3. Implement Strict Policies
To monitor and control access to data, strict policies must be in place. A separate policy for each data repository should outline who is permitted to access the data and how that data can be used or shared with internal and external applications and users. Any policy implemented should be based on the zero-trust trust principle that anyone accessing the data is a threat until proven otherwise and/or just-in-time access that allows access for specific durations of time.
4. Monitor Structured and Unstructured Data
Your data comes in two forms—structured and unstructured. Structured data is all the data that is easily identified and organized based on the data type. Unstructured data is all your other data, including audio and video, social media posts, and hand-written forms and notes.
The most important thing to know is that both kinds of data are valuable and vulnerable. And the best way to approach protecting both kinds of data is to have data owners work with IT security experts to develop a way to monitor how data is used within your organization and who has the ability to create and alter it, as opposed to reading only, access, and/or remove data. This will give you the insight needed to protect all forms of data.
5. Remove Data
When data is at the end of its life, and you no longer need it, get rid of it. After all, the more data you have, the greater the risk you will experience a data breach. Your data governance policy should include data lifecycle, whether that is personally identifying information (PII) or another type of data. Using intelligent machine learning to automate the monitoring of the data lifecycle allows you to classify data when it is created/acquired, determine the appropriate sunset policies for the data, and remove data that no longer serves a purpose.
Contact Platinum Technologies today to learn how we can help you develop a data governance strategy that provides holistic data protection.