Data Storage Security: 5 Best Practices to Secure Your Data

Data is undoubtedly one of the most valuable assets of an organization. With easy-to-use and affordable options such as cloud-based storage environments, storing huge amounts of data in one place has become almost hassle-free. However, space is not the only concern for businesses any more.

With only 5% of companies’ folders properly secured, on average, data storage security is now one of the topmost priorities for enterprises.

First, it is important to understand the different security risks against data. There are threats related to physical access to the systems in which data is stored.

For example:

When selecting the physical location to store confidential data, make sure that the place is difficult to tamper with or retrieve data from it.

Besides physical threats, there’s a large scope of cybersecurity threats that target data stored on networks, servers, and other cloud infrastructure. To deal with such security breaches, here is a list of data storage security best practices that you should consider.

5 Data Storage Security Best Practices

1. Enforce Strong Data Storage Security Policies

Each organization should create, enforce, and update a comprehensive data storage security plan. To be effective, data storage security policies need to be implemented everywhere, from the office, mobile devices, storage devices, and throughout the on-premise infrastructure and across the web.

Data storage security policies help maximize your data security by helping you identify sensitive data, critical assets, and implementing strong security controls to monitor and safeguard each level of data classification.

Want to learn more about how to enforce data storage security policies?

Let’s take a closer look:

Know What Data You Have

The first step of implementing data storage security policies is identifying what data you have. Ensure a clear understanding of the regulatory and privacy requirements of your organization. Assess the data you have, determine what is confidential and what might not be as important to your business.

By understanding the risks associated with different levels of data, you will be able to determine what needs more stringent security policies and what can be stored with basic cybersecurity measures.

For instance, sensitive information that is stored digitally such as intellectual property, personal identifying information about employees or customers including protected health information (PHI), social security numbers, and/or financial details like credit card details needs to be properly secured.

Classify Your Data

What’s next?

Once you have identified what data you have, define your data classification via an approach that includes legal, business, and compliance policies.

Data classification helps companies to determine the business value of stored data, identify valuable information that may be exploited by cyberattackers as compared to other information, and make informed decisions about resource allocation to securely store data and protect it against potential threats.

What’s more?

It also ensures that proper security controls are applied to a particular set of stored data on the basis of their sensitivity and business value. Further, data classification helps organizations meet regulatory standards such as those within the GDPR for using specific information within a time period.

Have Appropriate Controls for Each Level of Data Classification

Establish cybersecurity measures and define policy-based controls for each level of data classification. High-risk data requires advanced protection as compared to lower-risk data. By understanding what data you have and what needs to be protected, you can implement appropriate security measures based on associated risks.

2. Protect Your Management Interfaces

Often, companies set controls to protect data and data storage resources from unauthorized access while neglecting to secure management interfaces. This could allow a user to elevate their privileges or an attacker to set up their own credentials, enabling them to access data that they should not be able to.

One of the primary ways to protect your management interfaces is by enforcing strong authentication mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication and using least privilege access models. This way, only authorized users will be able to access stored data on the system.

In addition to this, reduce the exposure of management interfaces. You can achieve this with separate network interfaces on the managed infrastructure that is connected to an isolated management VLAN.

However:

If you can’t limit the exposure of your management interfaces, consider using a jump server. Jump servers, also known as bastion hosts, are used to provide strong and secure authenticated access.

Other management interfaces can then connect to a management network that is only reachable via the jump server. Remember that these servers need to be aggressively maintained and well-secured.

3. Implement a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solution

One of the most effective data security best practices includes implementation of a data loss prevention (DLP) solution. A DLP identifies, protects, and monitors data in transit and data at rest in your storage areas such as laptops, desktops, mobile phones, or other devices.

By implementing a DLP solution, you can monitor the location and usage of data according to the security measures.

It can help prevent intentional theft and accidental disclosure by employees having access to sensitive data. According to the 2019 Data Breach Report, nearly 28% of attacks involved insiders. Thus, having a solution in place that protects your data from insider threats will help you strengthen data security.

Additionally, DLP also safeguards your data against external, malicious attacks. DLP can prohibit sensitive data transfers to removable media devices and provides the ability to apply security controls case-by-case.

For example:

If a security event is detected, DLP can instantly block access to a specific endpoint.

Requirements such as the GDPR enforces stringent compliance on organizations where if the company collects, stores, and uses sensitive data of their customers, it needs to meet the security standards under the GDPR.

Non-compliance can include hefty fines and penalties which can drastically impact an organization’s revenue and market reputation if a data breach occurs.

A DLP can help ensure proper security measures as well as policy templates that automate compliance, enable the collection and storage of sensitive data securely, and address specific requirements.

4. Monitor User Data Access Controls

Monitoring user data access controls is another great way to strengthen data security. It helps provide secure access to authorized users while also maintaining user privileges to ensure that users only access data that they need to complete their jobs.

Here are some actionable tips to monitor user data access controls:

  • Modify all default credentials. - Avoid the use of shared credentials, which increases the chances of data breaches and identity theft. - Ensure the privileged user has appropriate credentials such as strong password policies. - Implement the least privilege access model which ensures users only have the privileges they need to carry out their tasks. - If higher privileges are given to a user for a specific task, ensure that user rights are revoked automatically once the task is completed.

What else?

Ensure that logs cannot be modified once created by the same users that are being monitored. You can do this by hosting the log separate from the databases and restricting write access for those users.

Establish policies that define legitimate user behavior for the privileged user, and validate the user actions in real-time to ensure they comply with the policy. Verity that they are authorized, and in case of suspicious activity, send an alert or block the account until further authentication is provided.

5. Control Your Data in the Cloud

While the cloud offers ample benefits, there are several challenges associated with cloud security which poses a threat to data security.

Some of the most common challenges with cloud computing include:

  • Loss of sensitive data - Malware infections - Permanent data loss - Insider threats - Violation of existing regulatory controls

Controls on data in the cloud environment include governance policies to ensure that your data is securely stored in the cloud. To avail better privacy, look for cloud storage services that offer encryption of your data. This will add another layer of security to your data.

In particular, security measures for the cloud should include where different types of data are stored, who can access it, how can it be modified, and when it should be deleted.

Consider the following:

  • Integrate storage-specific policies with other security policies. - Address data protection and retention. - Incorporate storage considerations after identifying business-critical and sensitive data and their protection requirements. - Ensure all elements of storage infrastructure comply with policies. - Address data loss and recovery options. - Utilizing a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

Takeaways

With the corporate world being highly interconnected now, it’s getting more challenging for companies to enforce compliance and secure their data.

Organizations of all sizes are adopting cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), as a way to give users a better experience and access to core business applications anywhere, anytime, and on virtually any device.

To fully protect your data from security threats and data breaches, you need flexible, yet effective data security policies that address concerns such as protection of sensitive data, suspicious user behavior, and ensuring compliance in day-to-day activities.

If you want to know more about data storage security best practices or want to conduct a cybersecurity audit, get in touch with us. We’re happy to help.