To be in compliance with regulations, organizations must be able to monitor and analyze the data that flow through them. Being able to view when and by whom data are created, stored, accessed, or destroyed, as well as the content, is important to understand the organization’s ecosystem, and with more countries implementing stricter regulations, it’s imperative to follow the guidelines correctly.
Pressure from governments and consumers, as well as economic factors, have contributed to organizations improving their security postures and privacy practices. A growing number of companies are using new tools to better enable them to monitor and protect their data. By using data discovery tools, for example, organizations have a better chance of understanding what happens to their data, protecting and preventing expensive downtime in the event of a breach.
Data Protection Laws are on the Rise
Internationally, data protection laws are becoming more common. For example, in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires companies to handle consumers’ personal data in a way that prevents a person from being identified. Organizations are expected to minimize the amount of data on their customers that they collect, and any data that they do collect must not be accessed by unauthorized parties. The regulations also guarantee that users may request access to their data or that it be destroyed.
Similarly, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) ensures that California residents are aware of what data are collected on them and what happens to that data. They can also access the data, forbid the sale of their data, and request deletion. The California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), an amendment to the CCPA, guarantees additional, more stringent protections. A few other states, Sweden, Israel, and Canada, have adopted regulations similar to California’s.
However, government regulations are not the whole picture. A global forum, the PCI DSS Council (alternatively known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Council), creates independent data privacy standards that members are expected to follow. In 2022, members updated PCI DSS to reflect increased use of the cloud and zero-trust culture. The new guidelines require companies to use multifactor authentication, strong passwords, and minimal access permissions for employees.
These measures are expected to reduce the risk of consumers’ data exposure. Some also predict that more legal requirements and industry standards will affect data privacy in 2023. Companies can expect more stringent enforcement and increased compliance requirements. Economic concerns will continue to affect privacy capabilities, and companies will likely have to make the most of every dollar as stiff competition for security professionals and high-security costs continue.
You Can’t Protect What You Don’t Know Exists
Although increasing regulations and compliance requirements can be frustrating, especially for companies with limited resources, they are designed to improve data security. Ultimately, keeping data secure saves companies time and money long-term, so it’s important to get on board as soon as possible.
Becoming compliant has a number of advantages. Beginning to audit and analyze how they handle data can help leaders and security professionals understand what they do and do not know about the data they store, and it’s likely that they have imperfect data visibility. In other words, not all data or activity pertaining to that data can be easily viewed and understood. It’s important for companies to know what they don’t know – assuming that standard practices are probably protecting data sufficiently may result in some expensive surprises down the road.
Without adequate data visibility, companies are at risk of a security incident. Not knowing how data are used and accessed makes it more difficult to detect attackers, and poor permissions management increases the risk that a bad actor will be able to access sensitive data. Given the increase in regulations and industry standards, where there are security issues, there are almost certainly compliance failures. Where there are compliance failures, there are costly fines and legal liabilities.
Achieving Compliance Through Improved Data Visibility
It’s one thing to recognize the need for data visibility, but the prospect of organizing and analyzing all of the needed information can be daunting. Automating data discovery and classification can help. Automation reduces the need for manually sorting each bit of data and metadata, reducing the time and money needed to become compliant with the regulations.
Utilizing data discovery tools and their automation functions can help with efficiency during audits, improve data visibility throughout an organization, and identify undesirable user behaviors and security practices. The regulations are increasingly complex, and data breaches are increasingly common, so the right solution can make a big difference, especially during a review or potential incident. Achieving compliance is important for avoiding fines and brand damage in the event of a security incident, so improving data visibility should be a priority for any company.
Full data visibility is essential for organizations that intend to comply with increasingly strict regulations. Companies must understand how they use their own and their customer’s data, as well as what happens to it and who has the ability to access it. As a growing proportion of data is accessed via the cloud, which creates new security challenges, and PCI DSS and other groups update their regulations accordingly, it’s more important than ever to monitor access and alterations to company and consumer data.