The protection of corporate data is currently playing an increasingly important role in the operation of many different companies. The 21st century is a digital century, and the further we go, the more valuable data become. Direct physical damage (and more specifically, its consequences) fades into the background compared to the risk of losing financial, scientific, research and organisational data. Losing your hardware is not as dangerous as losing a file that describes how the equipment is working. Losing a few stacks of banknotes will not undermine the stability of the company on the market, while leaking a document with information about the company’s financial condition and prospects can.
Right now, virtually all documents and all business interactions in general are becoming digital. This multiplies productivity, efficiency, convenience; however, these advantages go hand in hand with significant risks as well. IT infrastructure is vulnerable by definition, because it not only makes the work of the company staff simpler, but also unauthorised activities. Breaking into networks does not require direct access to device ports anymore, and attacks are carried out remotely.
The modern digital foundation of a major company is a complex structure comprising:
- the data;
- the data storage systems;
- the various associated devices used to process data (desktop computers, tablets, smartphones);
- e-mail, instant messengers etc.
In terms of security, this means a multitude of points of vulnerability.
All of this points to how essential protecting corporate data is: today; every company must view this task as vitally important. This is confirmed by statistics, as tens of billions of dollars have been spent on IT security globally in recent years.
When working on preventing the problem, it is worth keeping a few of the key features of this field in mind.
- There is no such thing as a perfect solution; a solution that is 100% effective, versatile or permanent. The system of protection must be adapted to the actual conditions in question, it must grow and improve, and keep up with the times (and new threats).
- The protection of critical data must be comprehensive in nature. In our case, all-round solutions are always more effective than the specialised ones, regardless of how advanced the specialised solutions are technically. This is why package services are so popular.
- The amount you invest in security must be proportionate to the potential losses.
- Protecting corporate data in a modern company is more than just technical tricks and specialised software. Organisational matters take priority over technology.
And now let’s get into the details.
Some people believe that if you can’t control everything, and cover all the possible threats and leaks, there is simply no point even bothering about security. This is fundamentally wrong: even imperfect security reduces the risk of data loss many times over.
The all-inclusivity and comprehensive approach must make sense. Thinking that more is better, and pointlessly buying all the tech you can or can’t imagine, will result in an opaque, unstable and ineffective system. Having many security measures is certainly a good thing, but only in combination with correctly arranging these elements and selecting tools for specific corporate tasks.
Many people think that IT solutions for corporate data security can be simply bought and installed as-is. Sure, specialists will agree to work on any situation, but to a significant degree, you are the maker of your own success here.
You should tackle a whole range of tasks before hiring experts with their specialised software products.
Developing and managing the internal security regulations for your company. This will require properly training your staff: security regulations are not just a formality, and the company employees must know them and follow them strictly. Also, your staff must be aware of the security measures used and of punishments for possible violations (clearly understanding the likely consequences is a very strong argument).
Content analysis: taking an inventory of and assessing the data involved in the operation of the company. You need to determine what is important and critical for the operation of the company, who handles critical data in their work, and who has access to this critical data to begin with. You must sift through everything: user machines, cloud storage, servers and other IT system components. Knowing what to protect alone is enough to considerably simplify the problem of protecting corporate data.
This comes straight out of the second point. Access rights: having categorised your data, you must categorise the access to these data. The idea here is simple: the less disruption (either intentional or accidental) a user can cause, the less you have to worry about. There are two main stages here:
It is worth understanding though that you cannot do everything here once, and expect it to work forever. Categorising and assigning rights is a cyclical task. The company can expand, change its area of business, structure, scheduling: all these changes can result in hiring new employees or having people with too little or too much access. All of this requires continuous and timely audits and corrections.
This will build up a secure foundation that can be complemented by various specialised hardware and software security solutions.
Now let’s look at the specific tools that you can choose to protect corporate data.
Loss of data is one of the most unpleasant things that can happen at work. The possible causes are numerous: software or hardware failures, user errors, actions by malicious users. Whichever it is, the result is the same: loss of time, and subsequently, money.
Backing up corporate data is a perfect way to protect yourself against such incidents. If you not only keep your important personal documents on your desktop computer, but also on a flash drive, you already know what it is. On the scale of an entire company, the role of such a flash drive can be played by certified data centres.
Disaster recovery is a procedure that lets us get the most out of data backup. If an accident occurs and disrupts your operation, there are two problems to solve:
- recovering all the data lost;
- restoring the operation as quickly as possible.
And it is not about just copying a backup version of the file to the user machine. Protecting the operation of a company involves the ability to very quickly activate its entire IT infrastructure, up to launching virtual machines on standby systems. Advanced solutions make it possible to carry out recovery in all operating environments (physical, cloud, virtual, software-defined).
Recovery plans are typically developed individually for every client, taking into account the special features of their business and infrastructure. This is the only way to achieve top disaster time management efficiency in protecting corporate data.
Continuity of operation
The 21st century brings about changes in the operating rates and cycles of various companies. Always being online has long gone beyond the realm of teenagers and instant messengers: this is an objective reality for modern businesses. Stability and tolerance to faults become decisive in these conditions. Disaster recovery, as described above, is one of the critical components of such stability.
Setting up a reserve IT infrastructure that is geographically remote from the site of the company itself is the most successful solution in terms of protecting and stabilising corporate operation. This is the most reliable solution that can protect the company, even if the local system completely collapses (e.g. during a natural disaster).
Protecting corporate data also means resisting DDoS attacks. Online criminals and trolls use these attacks more and more often, affecting individual websites and entire servers, which sets additional requirements for the resilience of IT infrastructure and especially for the company’s client network services. Attackers overload the server with traffic, making access to certain pages difficult or impossible.
The problem here is the same: unnecessary downtime directly resulting in financial and reputation loss. The solution is to connect special services that filter all the traffic directed towards the data centre and reject malicious queries.
Other problem areas
Today, e-mail is one of the principal methods of business communication, becoming a real magnet for all kinds of threats and problems. It requires managing a whole set of tasks:
- ensuring full confidentiality of the data transferred;
- saving the corporate correspondence (see Backups);
- comprehensive protection against spam and malicious e-mails.
Corporate messaging services and various kinds of instant messengers may require special protection.
Another sticking point is controlling traffic. Visiting dangerous websites, deliberately or accidentally downloading malicious files: all these risks must be done away with if one is to securely protect corporate data. The solutions here can involve direct restrictions (traffic limit) and using smart software (that, for example, blocks access to the website based on their reputation).
The protection of end nodes (i.e. workstations) comes next. Despite the barriers, there is still the risk of malicious code getting into the user’s computer or smartphone, and you must be prepared for this as well. Antivirus software, firewalls and so on are the last line of defence.