Knowledge is power. Whether it’s your proprietary data, customer insights, or strategic plans, data is valuable and needs protection. The problem is large. In 2015, half a billion personal records were stolen or lost, according to the Symantec 2016 Internet Security Threat Report Vol. 21 (ISTR).
What’s behind this risk? Our research shows both internal and external threats. Criminals have found that they can obtain your data by breaking into your systems or by targeting your staff who might be softer targets. If your staff use simple or default passwords, over-share data, or don’t follow security measures (such as removing redundant files from cloud services), they put your data at risk. And malicious insiders, such as disgruntled employees, may try to steal sensitive corporate data to further their career or to sabotage your company.
Data Protection is not just about data loss prevention, it’s also about protection and access control. The key questions revolve around how do we allow open access to everyone, while still ensuring sensitive data is properly controlled? And moreover, how do we do this correctly?
Symantec Information Protection
The objective is not to contain data, but instead place the right visibility, controls, and policies to ensure that data is useful and not over-exposed. There’s also the people element. Encouraging the right behavior is better for employee trust and security. Consider a member of your team that attaches a document to an email. If they accidentally attach the wrong file in their haste, it can lead to embarrassment at best or a PR disaster or worse. Ideally, you would want to intercept this email before it leaves the organization, but if this isn’t carefully managed you can block emails that you didn’t mean to. A better approach is to empower your staff. A well-timed alert could inform your staff member that the attachment contains sensitive data, and gives an opportunity for any mistakes to be corrected. This approach allows your staff to make the right decision in what might be complex circumstances, which both plays to their strengths and reinforces and builds a strong security culture.
Symantec Information Protection helps you identify critical data across all your files and emails using automated discovery and context-based classification. With Symantec, risk is reduced by ensuring you limit access to the right people. You limit the risk of data getting into the wrong hands by managing how it’s stored and the protection that surrounds it. You can easily apply policies to control access and usage―in the cloud, on mobile devices, or on the network—and protect and control data by establishing policies that apply across your entire network via a single point.
Symantec VIP, VIP Access Manager, Data Loss Prevention all work together to create an information protection platform. Symantec Information Protection covers three areas: Access, Visibility, and Control.
“Where are my data risks?”
To protect data, you first need to find it, classify it, and then ensure that it’s properly managed. The challenge here is identifying the highest risks to your data. With data volumes exploding (a five-fold increase in data is predicted between 2015 and 2020), and data formats becoming less structured (photographs of forms or whiteboards), the challenges will only grow.
Symantec Information Protection helps you discover where your sensitive data is stored across your infrastructure. You’ll be able to monitor and protect sensitive data on mobile devices, on-premises, and in the cloud. And it’s all done through a unified policy framework to define data loss policies and to help you review and remediate incidents.
“Who is accessing my data?”
Passwords are the de facto standard, but bitter experience teaches us that too many users are inundated with them, resulting in the use of weak passwords, passwords being reused or even written down when they are too hard to remember. A recent study entitled Cyber Security Flaws in Working Practices discovered that 21 percent of workers write down their passwords. In another study, sixty-three percent of confirmed data breaches involved weak, default, or stolen passwords, according to the Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report. You need to strike the right balance—making it easy for the end-user to access systems while ensuring security without relying on written-down notes.
Poor password hygiene makes accounts vulnerable to takeover attacks. These attacks can be eliminated with the use of single-sign on and multi-factor authentication technologies, such as Symantec VIP and VIP access manager. Symantec Managed PKI service also provides simple to manage device certificates, enabling secure access from any device, anywhere, to any apps your users need. Symantec increases security because VIP password-less fingerprint authentication makes accessing all approved applications simple, without the user needing to remember multiple passwords for multiple applications. This enables your organization to determine what applications show up as an option for the user based on their role.
“How do I better protect my data?”
Data Breaches have almost become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. According to the ISTR, the number of publically disclosed data breaches has risen steadily over the last number of years to reach 318 in 2015. What about stolen laptops or USB thumb drives and data breaches? Breaches caused by stolen or lost devices are real threats organizations face. In fact, this type of data breach makes up 45 percent of healthcare industry data breaches, according to the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigation Report. And the cost? The Ponemon Institute found that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach grew from $3.8 million to $4 million last year, but of course this is highly variable with costs escalating significantly depending on scope, scale, and nature of the breach.
Fortunately, you can take some measures to help protect your organization from data breaches. Symantec offers four broad ways to help.
- Symantec Endpoint Encryption helps prevent breaches by protecting critical data sent by email, as well as with files shared on network drives and in the cloud.
- Second, Symantec’s unified policy controls the flow of information everywhere it goes—in the cloud (with Office 365, Box, Gmail and others), on premise, and with mobile applications. We deliver powerful protection without added complexity.
- Third, Symantec Data Loss Prevention (DLP) integrates with encryption to prevent accidental leaks through user error and secures devices against data loss or theft.
- The fourth area is that Symantec ensures you limit access to only trusted users and devices. Symantec VIP, VIP Access Manager, and Managed PKI Service offer rock-solid access control, reducing the risk and consequences of account takeovers.
In upcoming posts of this series, we'll take a closer look at specific features of Information Protection.