We are living in an era where everything is represented in Digital data. Gone are the days when the information used to be stored in paper and human memory. The digital storage of data has gone so far that you can find virtually every type of information out there, be it personal or professional. And to be honest, storing personnal data digitally has many benefits that cannot be replicated by conventional means.
But as we all know, nothing is perfect. And just as we have gained many benefits from robust data online, we have also invented a new type of weakness - digital crimes related to data.
The more reliant we become on digital data, the more we are at risk when the said digital data becomes compromised. And this is the exact reason why the concept of data security exists. But what is data security?
What is Data Security?
In simple terms, data security or data protection is the process of ensuring that your data doesn't get breached or abused. As you may have guessed, "personal data security" is not exclusive to digital data. However, since most personal data are stored in digital media in this era, we usually relate this term to digital data.
It includes identifying the data risks, securing the existing data, and implementing preventive measures.
What is the primary purpose of Data security?
As we mentioned, the primary purpose of data protection is to protect data. It can be of any said individual or an organization. For this, there is a wide range of organizations dedicated to preventing the abuse and leakage of your personal or organization data. This is done regardless of the digital medium used to store data.
But before anyone starts to secure their data, they first need to have a general idea of the risks their digital data face without data security/ data protection.
What are the risks in Data Security?
The first thing that comes to our mind when we think about risks in personal data security is "Hacking". Hacking is simply using dubious methods to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data for those new to the world of cyber security.
That being said, while there is indeed a substantial risk of your online data getting hacked, there are other forms of risks that you may not know as well. These sometimes can be more dangerous than hacking itself. At the same time, these risks to personal data can function as a method to pave the way for eventual hacking.
With this being cleared, let's get to know some of the significant risks in the field of data protection.
Sometimes it just requires a moment of dumbness or carelessness to put your data at risk. If you have been on social media for a while, you probably have seen that image about a guy leaking his credit card number because there was a human error.
While we don't know what happened to that guy, revealing vital information like your credit card number, address, ATM pin card, or phone number can be pretty risky.
This information can be used by any third party to gain access to sensitive data and other forms of personal data like your bank account details, your detailed contact information, and so on. And once this information gets exposed, you will virtually be open to every other form of cyber attack. People can hack your information, blackmail you, drain your bank account of money, and so on.
But human errors do happen and sometimes take a long time before people notice them - during which they will be open towards every possible risk in data security. But this is one of the few innocent activities in terms of risking your ability to protect data.
Phishing and other social engineering attacks
What are social engineering attacks? They are activities that use human emotions and traits like fear, temptation, and gullibility to trick people into revealing information. Among many forms of social engineering attacks, phishing attack is one of the popular ones.
This term is pronounced as fishing. But the pronunciation is not the similarities between phishing attack and fishing. Similar to fishing, where we use a small bait to lure a fish, phishing uses emails that pretend to be from legitimate sources as bait to lure us into revealing our information.
As we have mentioned before, even a small reveal of your personal information can start a domino effect that can cause a complete risk to your finance and physical security - not just data security.
Some of the more obvious forms of phishing attacks are fake lottery tickets and emails with dubious links embedded into them. But other forms of phishing attacks can use emails that seem from legitimate third party companies that either give you shocking news tempting you to give your information or scare you into giving information.
Because some of the emails can be quite convincing, it is also one of the major sources of information leakage since a lot of us take the bait.
As the name suggests, this risk in to protect data comes from the people you trust. While any trusted third party can become an insider threat to your digital data, this term is mostly used in the corporate world since there are multiple ways on how an insider threat can be created and used to risk the data.
Talking about many ways on how an insider threat can be used, it can be categorized into three types.
These are the third parties who harm your digital and personnal data by either accidentally leaking it, being unaware of security measures, or by neglecting the importance of securing the data. They don't mean you harm, but they still do you harm due to human errors.
Malicious insiders are spies who enter your organization to steal and leak your data for personal or organizational gain. They work with you intending to know the internal structure and use any flaw they can to cause breaches in data protection.
On a personal level, a malicious insider is a person who gets along with you just to get access to your information. Two common examples of these are organizational spies and blackmailers. There is no human errors involved in this threat - every errors caused by malicious insiders are intentional.
Compromised insiders are innocent like non-malicious third parties. They are a victim of data security breaches as well. A compromised insider is people whose data has already been breached and is being used by people with malicious intent as a host to gain more benefits. The sad part is that many people don't even know that they have become compromised insiders in a lot of cases.
A simple way to define ransomware is to put it as a virus that targets and locks sensitive information. The ransomware doesn't do much besides locking your information, spreading, and informing the creator about their task's success or failure. But once your files have been locked, the one who developed the ransomware can easily blackmail you into paying a huge amount of cash to unlock your data.
This is why this type of data security risk is called ransomware - they are malware that leads to extortion in the form of ransom.
Cloud Data Leakage
One of the most common ways your data protection can be compromised is that cloud data breach is a major threat in the modern era. Since a lot of companies and people save their information on cloud storage provided by different organizations, any form of mishaps while sharing your personal data via cloud storage method can result in leakage of information which in turn leads to the data breach of the entire network.
One of the most common ways in which this can happen is when you share your data on the cloud over an unsecured network connection. Should this happen, your data can easily be intercepted and leaked. At the same time, should this happen, the recipient of the data can accidentally leak your data as well.
All of these data security risks might have made you scared to use digital storage mediums. But wherever there is a problem, there are usually solutions as well.
What are the methods of data security?
Is the concept of your personal information being leaked and abused scary? Yes! Thankfully, the concept of digital data security has been around long enough for there to be preventive measures against data protection risks. There are quite a few types of data security systems out there that implement a wide range of methods to ensure that your data doesn't get leaked or you face a data breach.
Let's take a look at them now.
This is a method to manage data protection risk by giving access to sensitive data to only trustworthy and those who require these data to perform their task. By limiting people who can see/ access the data, you also decrease the risk of accidental leakage - given that you have a secure data storage system. You can limit access to the data by using login passwords and codes.
This is one of the simplest methods to implement data security.
This data security method verifies the user's identity before giving them access to their requested data. It can easily be implemented using the Biometrics 2FA method or the Email to text method. Both of these methods of two-factor authentication (2FA) use the essential login ID of the user along with personal identification methods like fingerprint (Biometrics) and phone number (Email to text).
You cannot prevent the threat from an insider by using this method. However, the risk can be reduced quite significantly when combined with the access control method.
3)Backups and Recovery
One of the best ways to secure your personal data is to have a backup system that can be used to recover the data should it get lost. And personal data can be lost in many ways, such as if you delete data accidentally and system failure of the storage system. While these won't cause your sensitive information to be leaked and misused, you will still be negatively affected.
By having an additional updated storage system to easily recover data, you take preventive measures against this accidental data loss. It works best when combined with access control and authentication method to limit the number of people who can recover the personal data since wrong personnel can easily use the moment of data recovery to leak the data.
Encryption simply means converting data into code, and this term is not specific to the digital world. Any information can be encrypted as long as it is represented in codes. Encryption in data security works similarly as well.
A computer algorithm converts the data into an unreadable format through encryption keys. Once the data has been encrypted, you will need the algorithm-generated keys to the relevant data to access the information. Should you fail to provide the correct key, you will lose the ability to open the data in a readable format.
This is one of the simplest yet best forms of data protection, although it can sometimes be a double-edged sword. If you own the data but lose the encryption key, you will lose access to your data.
The process of data masking in Data security is similar to encryption in more ways than one. In both of these methods, you use additional information to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. The only difference is that in encryption, the data is changed via an encryption key, and in Data masking, the information is masked through proxy characters.
In both of these methods, the user requires a key to unmask the data. While a key requirement is an optional process in data masking, it is recommended. Suppose you don't want to use encrypted keys to mask and unmask the data. In that case, you can simply use the identity verification method and give access to only a few authorized people to view the actual data without the mask.
In the end,
Data security is a simple concept to start but gets complicated as we go deeper. Here we briefly answered some of the frequently asked questions about data security out there. But there is a lot more to data security than what we covered here.
So if you are scared of data loss, data theft or about data protection risks in general, we hope we made you more aware of the risk and gave you ideas on areas to implement data protection measures.
If you are curious about data security or just require someone to do the job for you, why not give us a nudge by following the link here. And if you want to know more about cyber security, you can follow this up with the articles below.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): A 2 Step Verification For Cyber Security
- Best Free VPN: What, How, And The Best!