We are living in an era where everything is represented in Digital data. Gone are the days when the information used to be stored in paper and human memory. The digital storage of Data has gone so far that you can find virtually every type of information out there, be it personal or professional. And to be honest, storing data digitally has a ton of benefits that cannot be replicated by conventional means. But as we all know, nothing is perfect. And just as we have gained many benefits from strong data online, we have also invented a new type of weakness as well - digital crimes related to data.
The more reliant we become on digital data, the more we are at risk when the said digital data becomes compromised. And this is the exact reason why the concept of data security exists. But what is data security?
What is Data Security?
In simple terms, data security is the process of ensuring that your data doesn't get breached or abused. As you may have guessed "data security" is not exclusive to digital data. However since the majority of data are stored in digital media in this era, we usually relate this term with digital data.
It includes things like identifying the data risks, securing the existing data, and implementing preventive measures.
What is the primary purpose of Data security?
As we mentioned, the primary purpose of data security is to protect the data. It can be of any said individual or an organization. For this, there is a wide range of organizations dedicated to preventing the abuse and leakage of your personal or organization data. This is done regardless of the digital medium used to store data.
But before anyone starts to secure their data, they first need to have a general idea of the risks that their digital data face without data security.
What are the risks in Data Security?
The first thing that comes to our mind when we think about risks in data security is "Hacking". For those who are new to the world of cyber security, Hacking is simply using dubious methods to gain unauthorized access to digital data. That being said, while there is indeed a substantial risk of your online data getting hacked, there are other forms of risks that you may not know as well. These sometimes can be more dangerous than hacking itself. At the same time, some of these risks to data can also function as a method to pave way for eventual hacking.
With this being cleared, let's get to know some of the major risks in the field of data security.
1) Accidental Exposure
Sometimes it just requires a moment of dumbness or carelessness to put your data at risk. If you have been on social media for a while, you probably have seen that image about a guy leaking his credit card number because he was careless. While we don't know what happened to that guy, leaking vital information like credit card number, your address, your ATM pin card or your phone number can be quite risky.
This information can be used to gain access to other forms of data like your bank account details, your detailed contact information, and so on. And once this information gets exposed, you will virtually be open to every other form of cyber attack. People can hack your information, blackmail you, drain your bank account of money, and so on.
But accidents happen and sometimes take a long time before people notice them - during which they will be open towards every possible risk in data security. But this is one of the few activities that are innocent in terms of risking your data security.
2) Phishing and other social engineering attacks
What are social engineering attacks? They are activities that use human emotions and traits like fear, temptation, and gullibility to trick people into revealing information. Among many forms of social engineering attacks, phishing is one of the popular ones.
This term is pronounced as fishing. But the pronunciation is not the similarities between Phishing and fishing. Similar to fishing, where we use a small bait to lure a fish, phishing uses emails that pretend to be from legitimate sources as bait to lure us into revealing our information. And as we have mentioned before, even a small reveal of your personal information can start a domino effect that can cause a complete risk to your finance and physical security - not just data security.
Some of the more obvious forms of phishing are fake lottery tickets and emails with dubious links embedded into them. But other forms of phishing can use emails that seem from legitimate and legitimate companies that either give you shocking news tempting you to give your information or scare you into giving information. And because some of the emails can be quite convincing, it is also one of the major sources of information leakage since a lot of us take the bait.
3) Insider Threats
As the name suggests this form of data security risk comes from the people whom you trust. While anyone who is trusted can become an insider threat to your digital data, this term is mostly used in the corporate world since there are multiple ways on how an insider threat can be created and used to risk the data.
Talking about many ways on how an insider threat can be used, it can be categorized into three types
These are people who harm your digital data by either accidentally leaking it, being unaware of security measures, or by neglecting the importance of securing the data. They don't mean you harm but due to their stupidity, they still do you harm.
Malicious insiders are spies who enter your organization to steal and leak your data for personal or organizational gain. They work with you intending to know the internal structure and use any flaw they can to cause breaches in data security. On a personal level, a malicious insider is a person who gets along with you just to get access to your information. Two common examples of these are organizational spies and blackmailers.
Compromised insiders are innocent like non-malicious insiders. They are a victim of data security breaches as well. A compromised insider is people whose data has already been breached and is being used by people with malicious intent as a host to gain more benefits. The sad part is that many people don't even know that they have become compromised insiders in a lot of cases.
A simple way to define ransomware is to put it as a virus that targets and locks sensitive information. The ransomware doesn't do much besides locking your information, spread, and inform the creator about the success or failure of their task. But once your files have been locked, the one who developed the ransomware can easily blackmail you to pay a huge amount of cash to unlock your data.
This is the reason why this type of data security risk is called ransomware - they are malware that leads to extortion in the form of ransom.
5) Cloud Data Leakage
One of the most common ways on how your data security can be compromised, cloud data leakage is rather a prominent threat in the modern era. Since a lot of companies and people save their information on cloud storage provided by different organizations, any form of mishaps while sharing your data via cloud storage method can result in leakage of information which in turn leads to the data leakage of the entire network.
One of the most common ways in which this can happen is when you share your data on the cloud over an unsecured network connection. Should this happen, your data can easily be intercepted and leaked. At the same time, should this happen, the recipient of the data can accidentally leak your data as well.
All of these data security risks might have made you scared to use digital storage mediums. But wherever there is a problem, there are usually solutions as well.
What are the methods of data security?
Is the concept of your personal information being leaked and abused scary? Yes! Thankfully, the concept of digital data security has been around long enough for there to be preventive measures against data security risks. There are quite a few types of data security systems out there that implement a wide range of methods to ensure that your data doesn't get leaked or breached.
Let's take a look at them now.
1) Access Controls
This is a method to manage data security risk by giving access to the sensitive data to only those who are trustworthy and those who require these data to perform their task. By limiting people who can see/ access the data, you also decrease the risk of accidental leakage - given that you have a secure data storage system. You can limit access to the data through the use of login passwords and codes.
This is one of the simplest methods to implement data security.
This method of data security is verifying the identity of the user before giving them access to their requested data. It can easily be implemented by using the Biometrics 2FA method or the Email to text method. Both of these methods of two-factor authentication (2FA) use the basic login ID of the user along with personal identification methods like fingerprint (Biometrics) and phone number (Email to text).
Needless to say, you cannot prevent the threat from an insider by using this method. However, when combined with the access control method, the risk can be reduced quite significantly.
3) Backups and Recovery
One of the best ways to secure your data is to have a backup system that can be used to recover the data should it get lost. And data can be lost in many ways such as accidental deletion of data and system failure of the storage system. While these won't cause your sensitive information to be leaked and misused, you will still be negatively affected.
By having an additional updated storage system from which you can easily recover data, you take preventive measures against this accidental loss of data. It works best when combined with access control and authentication method to limit the number of people who can recover the data since wrong personnel can easily use the moment of data recovery to leak the data.
Encryption is simple means converting data into code and this term is not specific to the digital world. Any information can be encrypted as long as it is represented in the form of codes. Encryption in data security works similarly as well. A computer algorithm converts the data into an unreadable format through the use of encryption keys. Once the data has been encrypted, you will need the algorithm-generated keys to the relevant data to access the information. Should you fail to provide the correct key, you will lose the ability to open the data in a readable format.
This is one of the simplest yet best forms of data security although it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. If you own the data but lose the encryption key, then you will lose access to your data.
5) Data Masking
The process of data masking in Data security is similar to encryption in more ways than one. In both of these methods, you use additional information to prevent unauthorized access to data. The only difference is that in encryption, the data is changed via an encryption key and in Data masking, the information is masked through the use of proxy characters.
in both of these methods, the user requires a key to unmask the data. While the requirement of a key is an optional process in the data masking, it is a recommended process. If you don't want to use encrypted keys to mask and unmask the data, you can simply use the identity verification method and give access to only a few authorized people to view the actual data without the mask.
In the end,
Data security is a concept that is simple to start but gets complicated as we go deeper. Here we briefly answered some of the frequently asked questions about data security out there. But there is a lot more to data security than what we covered here.
If you are curious about data security or just require someone to do the job for you why not give us a nudge by following the link here. And if you want to know more about cyber security, you can follow this up with the articles below.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): A 2 Step Verification For Cyber Security
- Best Free VPN: What, How, And The Best!