System backdoors, ransomware, and extortion accounted for almost 75% of cyber incidents in 2022. And these leaks led to 1,802 data compromises affecting more than 422 million Americans. They also caused the filing of 1.1 million identity theft complaints with the FTC.
And while data leaks have decreased in the previous year, they’ve affected almost double the people they did in 2021. This means data security is more crucial than ever — and the IT industry seems to agree, with it expected to grow by 11% in 2023 and 20% in 2025.
But what do we mean by data security? And are data leaks the only reason it has become a top priority? Let’s find out.
Data security is the set of practices, policies, and protocols an organization puts in place to protect its data from unauthorized access, data theft or modification, and destruction. It covers everything from software, hardware, and storage devices to access controls and cyber policies.
It has three elements, known as the CIA triad:
- Confidentiality – It makes sure your data can be accessed only by authorized users.
- Integrity – It ensures your data is accurate, complete, and reliable.
- Availability – It makes sure that your data is easily accessible.
Data is the lifeblood of every company. And as your company uses SaaS applications and cloud platforms to automate processes, streamline tasks, and scale, the potential risk of a data breach also rises. That’s because cybercriminals are looking to exploit security vulnerabilities to access sensitive data spread across multiple cloud data stores.
So, understanding your unstructured and structured data stores, where they reside, who has access to them, their data flow, and potential misconfigurations is crucial to protecting your data. And that’s where data security ensures you have the protection you need.
During the Target breach, cybercriminals stole over 70 million customer records and 40 million credit and debit records. Whether it led to an increase in identity theft or not, it cost Target over $18.5 million to settle the issue.
Similarly, Experian experienced a security failure that went on for 47 days and exposed the personal information of 147 million people. The company had to pay a settlement of over $380 million to customers, and its reputation was damaged.
Data security solutions safeguard the privacy of your customers by plugging known vulnerabilities, ensuring you can develop patches for backdoors, and encrypting data so it remains useless to unauthorized individuals.
According to IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2023, there have been over 228,000 vulnerabilities discovered in systems since 1988. And while the ratio of vulnerability to threat has remained somewhat consistent over the years, infrastructure vulnerabilities can lead to data breaches and leaks.
For instance, industrial control systems (ICS) are more vulnerable to attackers because of their demand for long equipment cycles, minimal downtime, and older, less supportive software. That’s because they still retain older vulnerabilities.
Data tracking tools like DataTrue help reduce the risk of vulnerability exploitation by providing visibility and control over the movement and usage of data. While such tools are usually used to optimize marketing efforts, they can track who accesses sensitive data and generate audit trails that can also be used in case of a security incident.
Let’s take a look at the data security challenges driving the rise of data security jobs:
According to an IBM X-Force study, ransomware attacks became 94% faster in 2021. This means it took attackers just under four days to accomplish attacks that took them over two months in 2021.
How did that happen? That’s because cybercriminals found misconfigurations in companies’ Active Directory paths that left them open to privilege escalation or total domain takeover.
If successful, attackers gained access to accounts they could use to demand ransom. And according to the 2022 Cloud Threat Landscape Report — which saw a threefold increase in the number of cloud accounts for sale on the dark web — that’s the case.
Employees who are unaware of proper data security practices may inadvertently engage in risky behaviors, such as clicking on malicious links, falling victim to phishing scams, or mishandling sensitive data. These errors can lead to data breaches or compromises.
Similarly, employees who don’t know data security best practices can unintentionally or maliciously misuse their access privileges, leading to insider threats, legal and financial consequences, and non-compliance.
Data protection and compliance go hand in hand. And complex compliance regulations, such as the GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, and ISO 27001, ensure that data and privacy are guarded as much as possible.
Unfortunately, these regulations are difficult to adhere to without deploying on-site or hybrid data security solutions. Why? Because these solutions provide insight into cyberattack threats, enforce near real-time controls, and enable you to manage regulatory compliance needs.
Due to the rising number of data breaches and the need to comply with stringent regulations, data security has become increasingly crucial. However, the lack of awareness regarding data security practices can cause companies to prioritize incorrect system aspects.
Data security professionals like data security analysts come in handy at this point. They help organizations safeguard customer privacy, reduce vulnerabilities, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards like the GDPR, HIPAA, and SOX.