Overcoming Growing Data Security Challenges


You’ve almost certainly heard the phrase “data is the new oil.” It means that data, more so than even oil, is now the world’s most valuable resource. When you look at the multi-billion or even trillion-dollar values of some of the data-driven tech giants, it’s tough to argue with that assertion. Even when companies such as Facebook or Google offer their core services to users for free, the data they’re able to gather nonetheless drives enormous value for both themselves and their shareholders.

Like any valuable resource, however, criminals want to steal it. Data can be leveraged by cybercriminals in multiple ways. They can use information about individual users to try and access services such as e-commerce websites or online banking to commit theft and other financial fraud. They can target users with phishing attacks and malware to try and extort money or otherwise cause harm. In the case of corporate data, they can steal proprietary secrets, which they may utilize for personal financial gain or simply to damage victims.

As a result of these increasingly common attacks, organizations must ensure that data security is a priority. In just a few years, the conversation around this has moved from “What is database security?” to this being a “must” for any company that operates online or with proprietary information. (Which, increasingly, is just about every company around.) 

Database security is needed to protect customers, ensure future profitability, and to comply with regulations like Europe’s GDPR, which can punish companies with major fines and other penalties if they do not carry out the correct proactive steps to safeguard information. Luckily, the tools are there to help.

The challenge of database security

Unfortunately, while the importance of database security may be widely known, the reality is that it’s getting harder and harder to implement. The IT environment is one that’s constantly evolving, and this can make databases increasingly susceptible to threats. 

One problem is the growing volume of data in the modern world. Every day, some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is produced globally (that number is 2.5 followed by a mindblowing 18 zeroes). For organizations, this includes data capture, data storage, and data processing. The sheer quantity of this data can make it difficult to safeguard.

There is also the challenge of distributed infrastructure, with network environments becoming increasingly complex. Much of this is tied to genuine innovation, such as the fact that many businesses will now use hybrid cloud (combining private and public cloud systems) or multi-cloud (the use of multiple cloud storage and computing services within a single network architecture) environments. As useful as these options are, however, it can also make deploying and managing security solutions tougher.

Yet another explanation is the ever-more tight and challenging regulatory requirements that organizations must abide by. This compliance landscape seeks to crack down on data usage and storage in certain contexts. Navigating this complex series of frameworks, which differ around the world, can be a headache for businesses operating internationally.

Capping off these challenges is the skills shortage in the cybersecurity arena. Contending with the above challenges (and there are others, too) would be tough enough in a world in which there is no shortage of cybersecurity talent. In fact, this couldn’t be further from reality. Organizations are frequently understaffed when it comes to cybersecurity professionals. This makes it even more difficult to deploy the right tools for defending their critical infrastructure, such as databases.

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Tools for database security

As tough as these challenges may seem, it’s imperative that companies take the right steps to address them. Database security should be a big focus for any modern business. What is most important is to have both visibility and control when it comes to database security. That means being able to see what’s going on and to do something about it – whether it’s an insider threat, a simple case of human error, or something far more sinister and calculated.

Fortunately, there are tools that can be used by organizations to help them secure databases. Tools such as File Integrity Monitoring (FIM) systems can be used to detect changes to database files and then alert the necessary security teams so that they are able to respond to the threat. Meanwhile, other safeguards like Web Application and Database Firewalls can be used to detect and block possible attacks, such as SQL injections, that may try to illegally access databases.

Deploy the right tools and you can protect against not just the threats mentioned here, but also challenges like hybrid cloud environments or the massive ramping up of data that organizations now have to deal with.

Make no mistake: This is a fast-moving area and one in which both threats and solutions don’t stay still for long. However, choose the best safeguards to assist you and it’s a decision that you’re unlikely to ever regret. It’s certainly something your customers will thank you for. 

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