Data Security

Identify: The First Step to Complete Data Security

rectangle Written by: Chantel Pszenny rectangle 2 5 min read

Managing the security of your organization starts with its data. With the rapid speed of business, companies accumulate significant quantities of data. Forrester estimates that the volume of data stored has a growth rate of 15-25% per year. Knowing what is in this data, where it lies, and how it is protected is crucial for a robust information security program.

The NIST cybersecurity framework outlines the first phase of data protection as the Identify phase , where organizations gather data to understand the full scope of what they need to protect. This phase sets the foundation for further data protection steps to create a holistic information security program. Implementing the identify phase effectively sets your organization on the right path to securing its data.


Knowing Your Posture

Before you can begin to protect your organization, you need to understand what is to be protected and what controls are in place to keep it secure. Your organization needs to look for what data is out there throughout every data store, even if it is not residing in your data centers. Data outside the traditional security perimeter may be overly exposed, leading to breaches if left unchecked. With this information, your organization can tailor protections to meet your needs, ensuring that these specific protections are a better fit and more cost-effective than generic controls.

Discover and Classify

Identification and classification processes are crucial for finding all of the sensitive information in your organization and determining the required controls to defend it. While it is helpful to know in general what data is out there, it is more important to know what type of data it is to apply the proper controls to defend it. Only 16% of small businesses have any data classification policy to determine different access levels based on sensitivity. This leaves much data improperly secured and creates exposures that could lead to a breach or accidental disclosure.

Classification helps to place data in the appropriate categories, such as personal information, payment card data, business secrets, health data, and other sensitive categories. Knowing this information helps ensure that the compliance mandates that apply to a given data type are met, along with any internal governance requirements outlined by the business.

Prioritizing Protection

Once you know what you have, you can determine the highest priority data to remediate. Almost every organization has limited staff to handle findings, such as moving the data out of less protected areas or adding additional controls to make it harder for cybercriminals to get their hands on.

Effectively managing the problem requires prioritization. It is imperative to take a risk-based approach to determine what data is most likely to be breached and will have the most significant impact if lost. Calculating this could be driven by compliance mandates that amplify a breach’s impact.


The Power of Identify

Knowing the importance of having the identify phase in your processes is one thing. It is another thing to be able to execute it. Doing this requires having the right toolset to support these efforts and deliver success. Manual actions are ineffective and cannot keep pace with the constant growth of stored data.

Finding The Crown Jewels

Discovery tools are crucial to finding and classifying the entire data in your ecosystem. These tools automate manual processes throughout on-premises and cloud-based data repositories to find any location where data may hide. Without automated tooling, there is a high risk of overlooked places, mistakes in information inventoried, and investigation taking excessive time.

Automated tools help identify where data shouldn’t be and where it is expected. This helps to expose areas where users might have temporarily placed data for a project, convenience, or just for ease of data sharing. These tools help expose areas where data does not have the appropriate protections in place for the type of data it is.

Knowing Who Can Access

Role-based access controls (RBAC) simplify the complexity of access by leveraging the power of groups. Groups streamline the data management process and make it easier to determine who specifically has access to any given data resources. Rather than assigning individual users rights to information, RBAC allows permissions to be assigned to a group to which users belong. Reviewing discovered data simplifies determining the scope of who has access to it, helping expedite the assessment process.

Simplifying and streamlining the identify phase of the NIST cybersecurity framework is integral to keeping pace with the speed at which new data is accumulated.


The Right Solutions To Defend Your Data

Sotero is a holistic data security platform that helps your organization defend itself against new and emerging threats. Sotero allows companies to take control of their data by limiting access, keeping data encrypted at all times, and using advanced threat detection to detect attacks before they can get a foothold. The Sotero platform protects your internal organization and the cloud to ensure that data outside the traditional security parameters remains defended against cyber criminals.

Read our white paper to learn more about the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and how Sotero can help your organization meet every phase to create a whole data protection lifecycle.

Contact Sotero today for a demo on how the Sotero Data Security Platform can help your organization get and maintain complete data security coverage across all five NIST lifecycle stages.


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