Enterprise Data Protection: The Definitive Guide
Enterprise data protection and proper security protocols are an essential part of any modern business. You simply cannot ignore data protection, which is why companies across the U.S. are continually turning to advanced turnkey solutions.
In surveys, companies often name data protection as a non-negotiable priority; unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between words and actions. Data protection is considered as an afterthought with many IT professionals responsible for data security in enterprise-level organizations admitting to struggling.
As your company grows, you start creating, managing, and storing vast pools of data that you need to protect. Since security is an increasingly important part of your company’s IT structure, you have to incorporate it from the start.
A data breach is a messy affair that costs money and time. It can also damage your company’s reputation. The fact is that no firm, big or small, is immune to hacks. What’s more, the bigger your data gets, the bigger the challenges your security system will face.
You cannot wait to get bigger to start worrying about data protection and safety because enterprise-grade security is a different animal.
What is Enterprise Data?
Enterprise data protection refers to data shared by all the users in an organization, generally across departments or geographical regions. It is a key asset component that is subdivided into internal and external categories that are classified according to organizational resources, processes, and standards. Because data loss is real and can result in significant financial losses, enterprises spend resources (and time) on effective and careful data modeling, solutions, storage, and security.
There is no precise metric for what defines enterprise data in small- or medium-sized businesses. However, once your organization gets to a point where it has numerous operating units situated in different locations, your needs clearly become complicated as compared to a one-location business with one IT department.
Enterprise data characteristics include the following:
- Security: Data must be secured via controlled and authorized access.
- Integration: Ensures that you have a single and consistent data version for sharing throughout your organization.
- Quality: To ensure quality, your data must follow identified standards for varying external and internal data components.
- Minimized redundancy, errors, and disparity: As your data is shared by all users, you must minimize data disparity and redundancy. Hence, the use of data modeling and management strategies.
- Scalability: Your data must be scalable, robust and flexible to meet different enterprise requirements.
What is Enterprise Data Protection?
Enterprise data protection refers to the process of delivering, managing, and monitoring security across all data repositories and objects within an organization. It is a broad term that is inclusive of several tools, policies, techniques, and framework to ensure the safety of data – regardless of where it is consumed or stored within the organization.
Enterprise data protection primarily implements and manages data security practices and standards in an organization. Depending on the utilization and criticality of data, its standards and procedures can vary. For instance, you can secure highly confidential data using multi-factor authentication, limited access, and encryption procedures.
Data protection generally works to protect your organization against data loss as well as ensuring security on all devices utilizing data. It is delivered using common information security technologies such as antivirus and firewalls, along with data security policies and standards for governing and managing the entire process.
As a small business, you can buy a simple peripheral fence security system to safeguard against malware, viruses, and other more precise attacks. But as the size of your company grows, so do the challenges posed when it comes to data protection.
Enterprise-level organizations deal with multiple services and products, with information flowing between departments or even geographical locations. You need to make sure that your personnel get the information they need to conduct business, as simply as possible, while locking out hackers and other malicious actors.
However, this simple concept can become maddeningly complex in execution. You see, even a simple problem such as a variety of aging windows apps across different machines in your organization can cause a minefield of problems, which can end up slowing you down and costing you money by taking a disproportionate amount of the IT security budget. Therefore, data protection is a matter of both software and strategy.
Enterprise Data Protection Strategy
1. Do an Audit
Before embarking on any new data protection approach, you need to first make a thorough audit of your security systems to find vulnerabilities before adopting a clean sheet approach to your database access, workstations, and more. Note that modern encryption is effective, so ensure that all your data is encrypted soonest possible in the cycle.
You can also look at the structural and physical changes to your databases, data storage systems, and workstations to ensure that security is built into your system at every turn. Even minute things like the age of your computers or the physical layout of your office can affect your data protection plan and your budget.
Protection against viruses and malware that can cripple major operating systems must be an essential part of your strategy. A solid defense against viruses and malware is normally a by-product of your security strategy but it should not be the sole focus of your work. When you get your systems right from the start, these high-profile super-villains will not take hold of your systems in the first place.
You also need to strike a balance to protect essential information within your systems while staying out of your workers’ way. If you go too far with security measures, you will slow down your entire workforce and end up costing your company in the end.
2. Classify Sensitive Data
You must classify all your data to achieve privacy. Here, you should determine the different data confidentiality levels, identify and later classify sensitive data, determine where the sensitive data is located, and finally determine data access levels.
3. Define a Security Policy
Once you have identified and classified all your data, the next step is to develop a security policy that turns your enterprise expectations into tenable objectives. Below are the essential parts of a comprehensive security policy:
- Determine an acceptable threat level. Remember that, for an overall secure environment, you need to encrypt your data early on in its life cycle.
- Develop an authorization and authentication policy. It should leverage best practices as well as historical information to help you determine which processes, applications, and users have access to sensitive information.
4. Determine a Data Privacy Implementation Mode
You can implement a data privacy solution as multiple joints within the enterprise. Selecting the implementation point will dictate the work to be done and greatly affect your overall security model. Encryption node levels include:
- Network-Level: It guarantees a secure deployment of your data privacy solution and ensures that all data is secured during every point within the enterprise.
- Application-Level: It allows you to selectively encrypt your granular data within application logic. It provides a solid security framework and allows you to leverage standard app cryptographic APIs. This solution is suited for data elements such as credit cards, critical health records, or email addresses.
- Database-Level: It secures your data as it is read and written to a database. This deployment is usually done within a database table’s column level. When coupled with database access controls and security, you can prevent the theft of critical data.
- Storage-level: It enables you to encrypt your data during the storage sub-system. This can either be at the block level (SAN) or file level (NAS/DAS). This solution is suited for encrypting files, storage blocks, directories, and tape media.
5. Build a Security Strategy
You need to focus on a clear strategy using the best possible tools to give you the strongest security in a streamlined fashion. First and foremost, you must give your people efficient access to mission-critical systems and data while ensuring inaccessibility to hackers and unauthorized actors. If your team has to jump through hoops everytime they want access to data, you risk lowering the overall productivity and you must, therefore, change your strategy.
However, data protection goes further than ease of access and locking out hackers. You must also backup your databases to prevent data loss in the event of disasters such as ransomware. Your backups must be instantly accessible, but thoroughly protected from hackers.
What’s more, you need an instantly available restore function on hand, which unfortunately many companies do not have. With a safely protected and clean version of your databases and website that updates regularly, no type of attack can keep you down for long.
An efficient software system that can lock certain systems down to protect them from outside attacks is the differentiating factor between your company scrambling for hours to get its systems back under control or getting back up within minutes after an attack.
When considering a data privacy and protection solution, you have clear choices regarding the implementation modes. These options vary when it comes to security models, yet each will provide you with a level of protection that is aligned with the potential requirements of your enterprise. Options to consider here include secure key management, mobile device management, cryptographic operations, backup and recovery, logging, auditing, hardware, as well as authentication and authorization.
To reduce your IT expenses, you must leverage existing technology standards to help ensure security, scalability, performance, supportability, and interoperability of your overall strategy. Additionally, when you leverage existing technology (where it’s appropriate), you can effectively and quickly deploy a complete data privacy strategy.
6. Secure All Your Company Projects
You need to bake security into every project you undertake. Always ensure that all your internal data and customers’ data is safe from malicious outside forces. Do not take security to be a bolt-on addition but treat it as a core requirement that is as important to all your projects as the return on investment (ROI).
Find a suitable data protection tool that can streamline the process and ensure that securing your company data is an intuitive process. With compliance incorporated into every facet of the process, a full end-to-end encryption, and other tailored options in place, a suitable protection tool can take a decrepit security solution and turn it into a major asset for your company.
7. Remain on Top of Legal Compliance
Where consumer data is involved, there must be legal requirements to follow, and compliance is not an option. In fact, it can be a full-time job especially in the financial services industry. These industries require a gold standard of data protection, security, and accountability. Here, you do not just need to adopt security best practices, you need to prove it as well.
Accountability and clear compliance must be built into your internal security systems as well as any third-party vendor you hire or software you adopt to keep regulators at bay while securing your vital information.
Today’s BYOD age creates more problems and potential security vulnerabilities since a mass of different devices can connect to your systems on a daily basis. Many of these devices do not have adequate security protection so they will have viruses and malware lurking in their operating systems, which can be a security nightmare for your company.
8. Remember the Cloud
Since cloud computing has become all the rage today, limiting the information that certain people and devices can access remotely must be clearly an essential part of your process. The cloud adds another layer of complication since your enterprise data protection plan must first consider every device connecting to the system before allowing login access.
A single unauthorized access could mean carnage for your system, but everybody else (authorized users) need to connect seamlessly. Therefore, if your security does not run from core to edge and you do not have proper end-to-end encryption across your networks, databases, end users, and apps, you will have weak points in your system. Determined malicious actors will find them.
As you plan your data protection and security strategy, you must incorporate layers of encryption to suit your operating structure. Moreover, customer-defined access policies, native backup and restore capabilities, event logging, passwords, and high-level enterprise drive encryption must all be part of your system.
Learn more about Cloud Data Protection.
Enterprise Data Protection Solutions
As stated above, the evolution of technology and the interconnectivity of smart devices has resulted in many privacy regulations and requirements such as the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that was effected in 2018.
Learn more about GDPR.
Modern data protection strategies for primary storage involves the use of built-in systems that supplement or replace backups to safeguard against potential problems such as media failure, data corruption, storage system failure, full-on data center failure, or data leakage.
- Synchronous Mirroring: This approach is used to defend against media failure. It allows you to write data to both a local disk and remote site, which ensures the two sites are identical. It requires 100 percent capacity overhead.
- RAID: This is an alternative to synchronous mirroring where on-premises physical drives are combined into one logical unit that is then presented as a single drive to the OS. Hence the same data can be stored in different places and on multiple disks.
- Erasure Coding: This alternative to advanced RAID is mainly used in scale-out storage environments. It uses parity-based data protection systems to write both parity and data across a storage nodes cluster.
- Replication: This is another scale-out solution that allows the mirroring of data to multiple nodes or from one node to another.
- Snapshots: Snapshots are used to set things right when data is accidentally deleted or corrupted.
- Snapshot Replication: Protects against multiple drive failures. It allows the copying of changed data blocks from the primary storage to an offsite secondary storage.
- Cloud-based services: Replication and cloud backup services can be used to store recent copies of data that will be needed if a major disaster occurs or to instantiate application images.
- Application Testing for Data Protection: Traditionally, data protection plans have included technology such as encryption technology, data loss prevention (DLP) tools, backup and recovery solutions, identity and access management, and more. However, since applications continue to be the leading target for malicious individuals, it is essential to add security testing to your data protection protocols.
Application testing promotes data protection by identifying and eradicating any software weaknesses that can possibly lead to serious breaches. Your IT team or app developers can help achieve data protection easily by testing to make sure that micro-services, mobile, web, and desktop apps are free of vulnerabilities or flaws.
Features of Enterprise Data Protection
Before you settle for any data protection solution, look for the following data protection features:
- Incremental backup technology: Allows you to perform only one full backup and then it performs incremental backups afterwards…forever.
- Instant recovery: The aim of a backup is recovery. Look for technologies that allow you to restore data instantly from your backups both in the cloud and locally.
- Cloud: The cloud can allow long-term retention, application testing, or even DR.
- Deep Application Integration: Ensures that any data you want to protect can be instantly accessed without any cumbersome consistency checks and processes to delay data access.
- Orchestration: Advanced orchestration tools allow the automation of the entire recovery process (including disaster recovery).
The Bottom Line
Enterprise data protection is one of the most significant tasks for IT teams in both large and small organizations. Today’s company relies on data more than ever, hence protection against loss, theft, and corruption is critical to success.
Due to the rise of data breaches, companies must remain vigilant to safeguard their assets. Failure to stay ahead of data threats will lead to breaches, tarnished reputations, and financial losses. Companies have, for years, focused only on perimeter security to thwart data threats. However, with nearly half of today’s data breaches perpetuated internally, these traditional perimeter defenses are not sufficient for securing your data.
You need to extend your company’s data infrastructure across business units, departments, partners, customers, suppliers, and a growing mobile workforce. This has blurred the lines between outsiders and insiders. Hence, you must adopt a solid enterprise data protection strategy to effectively protect your company from core to edge. You also need to implement a proper end-to-end encryption solution across your networks, applications, databases, and endpoint devices to ensure your data always remains secure – at rest, in use, or in motion.
Veritas customers include 98% of the Fortune 100, and NetBackup™ is the #1 choice for enterprises looking to backup large amounts of data.
Learn how Veritas keeps your data fully protected across virtual, physical, cloud and legacy workloads with Data Protection Services for Enterprise Businesses.
Also recommended for you:
Need an enterprise-level data protection plan for your organization? We can help.