Data Security: Definition, Components & Encryption Methods

If your business operates digitally, partially or completely, you'll need to have a stringent security system in place to protect valuable data. Otherwise, your company will be vulnerable to cybercrime.

Data security methods safeguard sensitive information, such as financial documents, customer and employee details, and business plans, from unauthorised users gaining access.

As well as preventing important documents from being misused, security controls will minimise the risk of a data breach. Failing to comply with GDPR regulations could cause your reputation and customer relationship to decline and a substantial financial loss in terms of fines and damage repair.

Custard Technical Services have put together a guide on the core security processes to protect data that your company creates, collects, stores and manages.

The core components of data security

Data security is commonly based on and aims to comply with the following components:

Confidentiality - To keep the data private, it must be only accessible for authorised users who have the necessary credentials.

Integrity - Maintain the accuracy and consistency of data by ensuring it remains unchanged through transmission or when replicated.

Availability - Authorised personnel must have secure access to the data for business needs.

What are the critical data security methods?

There are various aspects to protecting your data from getting into the wrong hands. To determine which solutions are most appropriate and essential for your business, conduct a risk assessment to identify your sensitive data and security vulnerabilities.

Access and authentication

Placing data in a secure location with limited access is a good place to start in enhancing security. You can implement discretionary access control, which is based on the identity of the resource's owner. Alternatively, assign access to users based on roles or departments or restrict access to administrative only.

To ensure only the approved users can access the data, require a form of verification before granting access, such as a PIN, a unique password, or a thumbprint authentication.

Multi-factor authentication increases your account's security by requiring more than one verification when signing in, which may entail entering a one-time passcode that you've received on your mobile phone.

Data erasure and minimisation

The more data your store, the greater riskl there is of a breach. To minimise your data storage, remove information you no longer need or has exceeded the retention period.

Instead of just deleting the data, use software to overwrite the data on any storage device so that it's irretriveable and permanently erased.

Data monitoring

For continuous tracking of your data security circumstances, use data monitoring software for real-time alerts to breaches. Data auditing also monitors any changes, access, and user activity, which can help identify risks and be useful if you need to investigate a breach.

Backup and recovery

While implementing data security strategies will minimise the risk of cybercrime, it can't remove it altogether. Keeping a copy of your files in a separate storage system will allow you to recover your data if the original is stolen or lost.

Data backup could save your business money if ransom malware encrypts your data and locks you out of the network until you pay a fee.

Encryption methods for enhanced data protection

While encryption doesn't mitigate hacking, it does prevent stolen data from being used. Encypting data involves scrambling plaintext into an encoded format, known as 'ciphertext', to hide it's original meaning.

The tactic prevents unauthorised users from intercepting stored data, known as data at rest or data in transit, which refers to data transported between devices or databases. Instead, only authorised users with a key can decrypt the data.

There are two main types of encryption:

Symmetric encryption: A single key is used to encrypt and decrypt the data, which quickens the process and simplifies the key management. However, the sender and receiver of the data use the same key, which increases the risk of third-party intrusion.

Asymmetric encryption: A public key is used to encrypt the data, and a private key decrpts the data, making it more secure to transfer the data. The public key can be shared while the private key remains protected.

A third party is unlikely to break the secure encryption code with complex keys by making numerous guesses, known as brute force.

To heighten the storage security of the keys, employ a key management solution, which will also ensure the keys are accessible to authorised users when needed.

If there's a weakness in the cypher's implementation, or the cypher itself, your data could be vulnerable to cryptanalysis or side-channel attacks. To minimise this risk, work with an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) to ensure no faults in the design, execution or cypher.

After cementing a robust data security process, the work still isn't done. Protecting sensitive data against fraud, theft, and loss is an ongoing practice. You'll need to continue updating the policy to keep cybercrime at bay as criminal tactics progress and inform employees on security methods.

Need help executing a data security system?

Custard Technical Services is an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) that helps businesses across the UK meet their IT goals. The IT support company offer various market-leading IT services, including backup and disaster recovery, network security, email and spam protection, and data storage solutions.

If you need more guidance on increasing your firm's data security, get in touch with the team of IT experts through the contact form or via our live chat.