Bridging the data security gap: navigating data protection
Data is one of an organization’s most valuable assets. It stimulates innovation, informs decision-making and encourages collaboration between different departments. With data forming the foundation of business initiatives, the need to maintain data security and compliance is becoming increasingly important for leaders across industries.
However, security measures face an increasingly daunting landscape of potential threats. According to a recent IDC InfoBrief, 54% of European organizations have experienced an increase in cyber attacks on their networks in the past twelve months.
Protecting data amid emerging threats and increasing regulations, without compromising access to data, is very complex. According to IDC, there is a significant data security gap among European organizations, preventing them from fully realizing the potential of their data. But what is causing this security gap, and how should business leaders respond?
The data security gap
Data use and data security are by definition at odds with each other. In fact, according to the IDC report, 29% of European organizations are unable to fully leverage data within their organizations due to data security challenges. While data drives insights and analytics-driven decision making, there is an inherent danger of misuse and inadequate protection, which can lead to unauthorized access, breaches or leaks.
This gap in data security is mainly attributed to the complexity inherent in modern IT and data infrastructures, which often lead to the creation of isolated areas of sensitive data, known as ‘silos’. This creates a reality where organizations work with data spread across multiple platforms and locations. This often leads to a default ‘no’ when it comes to providing secure data access rather than a default ‘yes’.
Breaking down these data silos must become a priority if companies want to improve access to data, but this is not the only problem. Fueling this gap in data security is another set of challenges that make secure data use even more difficult.
Director of Solutions Architecture at Immuta.
Evolving threat landscape
As data, users, and use cases increase, the threat landscape simultaneously expands. According to IDC, 58% of UK organizations have experienced an increase in cyber attacks in the last twelve months, followed by 49% in DACH and 47% in Scandinavia. These cyber attacks occurred amid an expanded attack surface, an increasing frequency of insider threats, and supply chain exploitation as a new attack vector. Each of these factors contributes to an ever-changing threat landscape from which sensitive data must be protected.
Moreover, the regulatory landscape is becoming more complex by the day. There are many new laws on the table, some are sector-specific, others have consequences for all sectors. The changing rules and priorities of data management can feel overwhelming for technology leaders who are already pressed for time.
Organizations must apply and enforce policies in accordance with specific regulations. In addition, regular use of audit data is essential to prove that these actions are appropriate and compliant. Respondents to the IDC survey ranked data privacy and regulatory compliance as their top operational security priority for 2023, above both cyber resilience and hybrid work security.
Blind spots: shadow data
As organizations move more of their data to the cloud and adopt decentralized architectures, their data footprint expands across platforms, tools and applications. Data sets that are stored, accessed, analyzed, and copied in different ways across a distributed global workforce are inherently much more difficult to protect.
This creates a significant blind spot, as undiscovered shadow data will not always be managed and protected by network security methods. In fact, the IDC found that only 42% of European companies were “confident” or “very confident” in their ability to discover and classify sensitive data, both known and unknown, in the public cloud.
Building a culture of data trust
In response to the challenges companies face in balancing the complex dynamics between data utility and security, data security has risen to the top of the CEO’s agenda. The IDC report shows that 45% of organizations in Europe are prioritizing investments in data security, risk and compliance this year.
Many are streamlining security operations and rationalizing their existing security tool environments. The report shows that 49% of security professionals plan to expand or upgrade their implementation of data access controls in the next twelve months. Additionally, 32% of European organizations plan to increase their spend on data discovery and classification, recognizing the importance of overcoming the challenges of complexity.
Unlocking the value of data
As companies navigate a complex data security and compliance landscape, they must learn the tools and tactics to address the security gap and seize the opportunity to leverage the power of their data for innovation and growth.
The way forward lies in convergence to a data security platform that improves the protection of sensitive data in hybrid multi-cloud environments, while allowing authorized users to use the data effectively for business purposes. With preparation and strategic investments in data security, organizations can bridge the data security gap and begin a secure and innovative data-driven journey.
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