Cyber perils are the biggest concern for companies globally in 2022, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer. The threat of ransomware attacks, data breaches or major IT outages worry companies even more than business and supply chain disruption, natural disasters or the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cyber incidents tops the Allianz Risk Barometer for only the second time in the survey’s history, with 44 percent of responses.
As a result, an increasing number of companies will be looking to enhance, or even implement for the first time, their data protection strategy. That’s why, in this blog, we look at the most important five steps in any successful data protection strategy.
Before we get into those steps, let’s first look at what data protection is and why it's important.
What is a data protection strategy?
Data protection is the process of safeguarding a company's data from fraudulent activities, hacking, phishing and identity theft. In its simplest definition, it is the protection of data against vulnerabilities and outside threats.
Data protection is a strategy that’s built up from a variety of best practices, including data loss prevention (DLP), employee training, encryption, firewalls, data management, and data backup and recovery plans.
The importance of data protection is typically closely tied to compliance regulations that govern how a business manages, uses and stores specific sets of data.
What data needs to be protected?
All data that is related to an identifiable individual that a business either stores or handles needs to be properly protected. That could include anything from employee records, customer information or transaction details.
This is to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands and being misused by third parties for fraud, such as phishing scams and identity theft.
Common data that businesses might store and need to be protected, includes:
- Telephone numbers
- Email addresses
- Health information
- Bank and credit card details
Data protection is also focused on the protection of business-critical documents, such as strategic plans and agreements, that could seriously impact the future of the organization if they fall into the wrong hands.
Five steps to building a data protection strategy
1. Identify your most important data
The first step in building a successful data protection strategy is to lay the foundations of understanding the data that your business has. This means identifying the types of data that your organization holds, and the potential risks that this data could have for your business.
This will help your business do two things. Firstly, you’ll start to gain a better understanding of what data your organization has and what you need to do to protect it. Secondly, you’ll be able to identify the most important data that your business needs to protect.
When identifying your data, think about crucial information such as customer information, employee data, business-critical documents, data that is governed by regulations and intellectual property.
2. Discover your data
Now you have a better idea of what data your business has and which information needs to be protected, it’s time to gain complete visibility into what data your business has, where it’s stored and who has access to it. After all, you can’t protect what you can’t see.
Data discovery is the process of identifying what, and where, data resides across your company’s entire infrastructure. By implementing continuous data discovery, your business will have complete visibility into what data you have, how it’s being accessed and used, as well as the risk it is posing to your business.
3. Classify your data
Once you’ve used a data discovery platform to gain visibility into what data you have and where your data lives, the first step towards successful data protection is to implement data classification. Data classification is the categorization of different types of data based on its content, value or the regulatory standard it is governed by.
By categorizing data through classification, your business is able to ensure that each piece of data is handled, managed and accessed in accordance with the rules that correspond with the specific category that the data falls into.
4. Protect your data
Now that you have discovered and classified your data, the next step is to implement rules, processes, procedures, best practices and technologies that protect that data.
Data protection strategies typically include components such as data loss prevention, controlling company access to data, data backup and recovery solutions, employee training and best practices to mitigate risk, as well as ensuring data is handled in a way that complies with relevant regulations.
5. Measure and improve
With the first four steps in this guide, your business will have been able to gain clear visibility into where data lives, who is using it, the risks associated with your data, as well as planned and implemented a data protection strategy.
But your program doesn’t end there. Your business is constantly evolving, regulations are always changing and the data your business stores is constantly growing. To ensure you are able to protect data moving forwards, it’s important that you also implement an ongoing plan that allows your organization to measure the performance of your data protection strategy, and improve it.
Interested in learning more about how you can build a successful data protection strategy, and automate some of the core processes such as continuous data discovery and data classification? Get a virtual demo of Cavelo today and learn how our innovative platform can dramatically improve your company’s data protection.