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How Data Visibility Protects Your Critical Information

Your data is precious, and any data loss can be painful. Daily headlines about ransomware, breaches, and other cyberattacks make data security more crucial than ever. But the odds are against you, with one report finding that ransomware attacks increased by 13% in 2021—more than the last five years combined. Businesses suffered 50% more cyberattacks per week over the same period. But here’s the real problem. no matter what prevention measures you put in place, a data breach may always be on the horizon. Over 90% of organizations had a security incident linked to a third-party partner last year. But the cause of the breach doesn’t matter. 

Why data visibility matters

It took an average of 287 days to identify and contain a data breach at an average cost of $4.87 million last year. That’s where data visibility changes everything. Visibility can decrease your risk of cyberattack, as Quest’s CEO explained in this recent post. And it can help ensure your critical data is protected by answering the question, do we know who has accessed our data, what data has left our company, and do we have the capabilities to confirm it legally?

Focus on system data and data content visibility

There are two primary datasets where visibility is the linchpin of data security: system data and data content. 

System data visibility includes logging—also known as log analytics and management—which manages data generated by your applications and infrastructure. System data alerting ensures you get real-time notifications if suspicious activities or infrastructure problems are discovered. Logging and alerting also come into play regarding data content—the data’s source, destination, protocol, and the actual content of the data packets. Visibility into and analysis of individual data packets can detect security risks, help you troubleshoot DNS and connectivity issues, detect and prevent malware, and more.    

System visibility enhances data protections

Logging offers visibility into who is accessing your data while limiting that access to authorized users. Role-based access control (RBAC) restricts users’ access to your networks, applications, and data based on their role within your organization and can alert you if access attempts are made by unauthorized users. At the same time, multi-factor authentication (MFA) lets you see every user that has accessed your systems and data, helping identify potential breaches and threats. This protects sensitive data while ensuring your people can access the information they need to do their jobs. By assigning RBAC to every employee, you automatically control which permissions the system grants to the user. RBAC is also one element of an effective zero-trust network access strategy, giving admins more visibility and oversight by limiting access by users and guests on the system.  

Outbound data loss visibility and prevention

Data visibility tools and options like monitoring and alerting services monitor, display, and analyze data from various sources. This enhanced data visibility lets you visualize your data, where it’s located, who can access it, and any associated risks. By identifying these risks, you can proactively prioritize those areas that need remediation and close any compliance gaps. 

Most importantly, outbound data visibility alerts you to any instances of data exfiltration, whether through database leaks, network traffic, file shares, or organizational email. Reducing risks of data exfiltration also demands that you integrate security awareness and best practices into your company culture. It’s also important to consistently evaluate the risks of every interaction with networks, devices, applications, data, and other users. 

Other prevention and mitigation strategies include:

  • Prohibit downloads of very sensitive data
    • Regulate connections between authorized clients and cloud services using a cloud access security broker (CASB), part of a secure access service edge (SASE) security model that Quest wrote about in this post
    • Secure your files with digital rights management (DRM) tools that put permissions-aware security and encryption on each file
    • Deploy dynamic watermarking in your authorized clients to record the user responsible for screenshots of PC displays showing sensitive information

Data security is priority one

Effective data visibility is just one element of a robust cybersecurity posture, but it takes more to protect your data. As you plan your digital security strategy, remember that always-on, 24/7 security operations are a must. With ransomware rampant, you need to know how you will prevent ransomware from getting into your systems—and what you will do to recover if it does. Schedule regular reports, reviews, and tests for your backup and disaster recovery solution, so you are confident of recovery if an attack is successful. 

One of the best ways to ensure your data is always protected is to add Data Protection as a Service (DPaaS), a complete enterprise-class cloud disaster recovery service. DPaaS gives you full visibility into file and device activity on endpoints along with email encryption that integrates with a wide range of encryption services. 

Regardless of your data protection approach, data visibility matters. 

Thank you for trusting us to help with your technology needs. Contact us any time—we’re always happy to help.


Meet the Author
Mike Dillon is Quest's Chief Technology Officer.
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