3 Reasons Data Access & Data Classification Are Crucial

Jun 25, 2024
June 25, 2024
Jaye Tillson
3 Reasons Data Access & Data Classification Are Crucial

The digital revolution has irrevocably transformed our world. From the constant stream of social media updates to the ever-growing network of internet-connected devices, we generate a staggering amount of data every single day. Experts at IDC estimate the global datasphere will reach a mind-boggling 175 zettabytes by 2025 – that's 175 followed by 21 zeros! This data deluge has fundamentally reshaped how we live, work, and interact, but with great power comes great responsibility. The question of how to manage and secure this ever-growing data pool becomes paramount.

At the heart of this challenge lies the concept of "zero trust." Zero trust is a security model that throws out the outdated notion of a secure perimeter. It operates under the assumption that inherent risk exists within a network. No user or device, regardless of origin, is automatically trusted. Access must be continuously verified, and data, as one of the most valuable assets in today's digital landscape, sits at the heart of this philosophy.

Imagine a manufacturing company struggling with a complex and fragmented data infrastructure. Legacy data resides on dusty on-premise servers, while newer data sets are scattered across various cloud solutions. This sprawl creates a data blind spot. The company might not have a complete picture of where all its data is located, who has access to it, or how sensitive it is. This lack of understanding creates significant security risks and hinders compliance with data privacy regulations.

Here's why understanding data location, access, and classification is crucial:

  • Security: Knowing where data is stored allows for the implementation of appropriate security measures. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption become much more effective when you understand what you're protecting and where it resides. Additionally, understanding who has access to the data helps prevent unauthorized access and potential breaches. In an era where ransomware attacks are wreaking havoc, effective data control can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a crippling business disruption. A 2023 study by Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that global ransomware damages will cost an estimated $26 billion annually by 2026. Ransomware attacks exploit vulnerabilities in a company's network, often by taking advantage of poorly managed data access controls. By understanding where their data is and who can access it, companies can significantly reduce their attack surface and make themselves less vulnerable to these ever-increasing threats.
  • Compliance: Data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA have teeth. They mandate strict control over personal information. By classifying data, companies can ensure they are adhering to relevant regulations and minimizing legal risks. Classifying data allows companies to identify and prioritize the protection of sensitive information, such as customer data, intellectual property, and financial records. This not only helps them avoid hefty fines but also demonstrates their commitment to responsible data management, fostering trust with customers and partners.
  • Governance: Effective data governance requires a clear understanding of the data landscape. Classification allows for the implementation of policies and procedures for data handling, ensuring its integrity and usability. Without a clear understanding of the data they possess, companies risk making poor decisions about storage, access, and retention. This can lead to data loss, corruption, and wasted resources. Classification allows for the development of a data governance framework that ensures the data is managed effectively, supporting informed decision-making and maximizing its value.

Understanding your data is not just a security best practice; it's a critical step towards achieving certifications and demonstrating robust data governance. This, in turn, fosters trust with clients and partners, solidifying a company's reputation in the data-driven age.

In conclusion, the data deluge is here to stay. By embracing a zero-trust approach and prioritizing data understanding – location, access, and classification – companies can navigate this new reality. It's no longer enough to simply have data; it's about harnessing its power securely and responsibly. This is the key to unlocking the true potential of the information age, while simultaneously mitigating the ever-present threat of ransomware attacks that hold entire industries hostage. By prioritizing data security and adopting a zero-trust approach, companies can build a digital fortress around their most valuable asset, ensuring a more secure and prosperous future.