What Is Data Security? Definition, Importance and Strategies
Updated June 24, 2022
The continually increasing amount of stored information that companies and individuals use daily requires an accompanying increase in data security to protect. Implementing an effective data security plan helps companies and individuals guard sensitive information from potential breaches or cyberattacks. If you're considering a career in cybersecurity or data analytics, understanding the intricacies of data security is a useful skill to have. In this article, we define data security, explain its importance and discuss various types and strategies associated with data security.
Related: 15 Careers In Cybersecurity
What is data security?
Data security is a method companies use to protect digital data, critical IT systems and online information from cyberattacks, theft or corruption. The term data security refers to a plethora of strategies and procedures that work together to restrict unauthorized intruders from accessing protected data.
The processes and practices of data security range from protecting physical hardware to digital databases. Each method adds layers of protection to stored data. The various methods of data security typically focus on incorporating these three main elements:
Confidentiality: Confidentiality ensures that only authorized users can access information in a database. Authorization in data security often manifests as credentials, such as a username and password.
Availability: This element ensures that data is accessible for those who require access to it. Data security protects information while also maintaining its availability for authorized individuals.
Integrity: It's also important for stored data to remain accurate and reliable in an effort to prevent unnecessary changes and corruption.
Related: What Is Data Management?
Why is data security important?
As the volume of stored data continues to increase, the need for secure policies and procedures also rises. Data environments, or database programs, have become more complex, leading to consistent changes in how companies develop data security practices. There are other important factors associated with data security, including:
Companies that store users' data have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect that information. Whether the business stores personal details or payment information, they accept the task of safeguarding the data entrusted to them. Since many users input their personal data online, it's important for companies to communicate their security practices clearly.
If a data breach occurs within a company, it can negatively affect that company's reputation. To avoid risking your company's reputation, it's necessary to develop clear procedures for data security. It's often important for companies to have customers who trust the security of their information. Prioritizing data security allows you or your company to foster a loyal, trusting customer base.
A data breach can cost a company both time and money to repair. Investing in effective data security practices as early as possible can save your company resources, as you can avoid the labor and monetary costs of recovering compromised data.
Rise in demand
The rising demand for companies to store users' data is changing the way businesses operate. As consumers become more aware of data security, it's important for companies to be transparent about the practices they've implemented to protect information. Establishing communication between users and businesses develops trust as companies expand their capacity to store and protect data.
Types of data security
Data security exists for a wide range of platforms. Here are some different types of data security along with their uses:
Cloud data security: This protects data transferred to and stored in the cloud, which is information accessible to most users who have a connection to the internet. Storing data on the cloud is a more recent option for users than other types of storage.
Data encryption: Encrypting data adds a layer of protection to sensitive information by disguising the original information with ciphertext, which is encrypted text generated by an algorithm. Masking the information adds another obstacle to potential hackers.
Hardware security: Security of physical hardware is equally important as securing digitized information and helps prevent data corruption. Companies may implement access policies to limit the personnel who can access physical data hardware to maximize security or ensure that hardware is in a locked location.
Payment security: This specifically encrypts payment information to ensure the secure transfer of funds. This type of data security allows sales, bill payments and other transactions to safely occur digitally.
Web browser security: Web browsers often have multiple layers of security to safeguard against data breaches across a series of websites, which usually have their own security measures in place, as well. Users also typically have the option to incorporate their own website security measures if they so choose.
Strategies for securing data
Professionals use several strategies to protect each type of data security measure, and these often increase the level of protection provided. While data security often focuses on particular areas of technology, there are many strategies for securing data, including:
Tokenization: This is the process of replacing information with tokens or symbols to hide the original data.
Access controls: This ensures that access to data—whether it be hardware or software—is only accessible to authorized employees or personnel.
Authentication: Authentication is similar to access control but controls the data that users have access to, rather than employees.
Data recovery: This ensures that a company has the ability to recover data through multiple methods, such as cloud storage, a hard drive or a shared network.
Data erasure: To maintain the functionality of your databases, it's important to clear data from the system using erasure, which ensures that deleted data is unrecoverable.
Data resiliency: Databases may experience issues occasionally, so it's important to insert precautions into a database to preserve information in the event of a system failure.
Hashing: Different from both tokenization and encryption, hashing converts data mathematically into an alternate form until an authorized user accesses it.
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