Businesses rely on technology to keep operations and workflows running smoothly. One such technology is data storage, which is how companies house and safeguard their information.
There’s no one way to store data. Some businesses leverage on-premises servers, while others store data in the cloud or removable storage devices. At the enterprise level, with potentially thousands of employees spread across multiple locations, companies require more advanced solutions.
In this article, we will explain the importance of determining the right type of data storage for your organization’s data security. We will cover the differences between various data storage solutions, as well as best practices to avoid cybersecurity risks associated with storing data.
Cybersecurity considerations for data storage
Stored data is considered at rest when it is not actively being accessed or used. Data at rest is a popular target for cyber-attacks because a single attack vector can yield massive amounts of information.
Internal threat actors. Employees, contractors, and third-party vendors are responsible for more than 40% of serious data security incidents. For example, while working at a hospital, an employee with authorized access downloaded files to a USB stick before quitting the next day. The files contained sensitive data such as patient names and test results and impacted more than 40,000 individuals.
Unintentional internal errors. While internal actors are responsible for 43% of data loss, half of those incidents are accidental. Unintentional errors often stem from a lack of awareness of proper security controls. For example, an IT technician with inadequate training accidentally deleted 20.68 terabytes of Dallas police data. The loss of these 8.7 million files occurred because the employee deleted them from storage without validating that the transfer was complete.
External threat actors. Outside parties account for just under 60% of serious data security incidents. A common technique to gain unauthorized access is phishing, which is when attackers impersonate a reputable person or entity to trick their victims. For example, Twitter staff were targeted in a phishing attack that allowed malicious actors to access the accounts and messages of high-profile users. By tweeting from the compromised accounts, the hackers stole approximately $118,000 in a Bitcoin scam.
Data storage best practices
Comprehensive data security starts by knowing what kinds of sensitive data you have stored and where. This is why data classification is an important component of an enterprise-level storage solution. This process groups data sets according to the level of sensitivity, which in turn impacts the risk you face if the data is lost or compromised.
For example, internal information such as revenue projections and business strategies should be accessible only by company employees. While it needs protection, you wouldn’t need to allocate high-level security resources like data masking and encryption for this type of data.
Highly sensitive data, however, requires additional resources to prevent unauthorized access. This type of information is often restricted or confidential, so its loss or compromise could be devasting to the organization.
Best practices to secure enterprise data storage solutions include:
Access controls. Because more than 40% of data incidents are caused by internal actors, it is important to carefully monitor and control your storage access privileges. For example, permission-based user roles grant an individual user access to only what data is necessary for their job functions. This also enables data monitoring, in which your IT admins can review user activity to pinpoint unusual or unsafe behavior.
Encryption. File-level encryption ensures that only authorized users can access and use data. Data storage typically uses logical structures to hold information, which makes it an easier target than data moving through a network. Advanced encryption capabilities protect files and folders, even if the end device is stolen or compromised.
Data minimization. Data minimization is the processes of collecting and retaining the minimum amount of information needed to provide a service or product. This has several benefits, such as reducing storage costs, limiting cybersecurity risks, and enhancing regulatory compliance. Enterprise-level tools have functionalities that reduce your overall storage volume, such as finding and flagging duplicate files.
Endpoint security. Even a secure data storage solution can be compromised by devices that connect to network resources. From laptops to servers, mobile devices, routers, and more, cybercriminals target endpoints to access data stored on them and to infiltrate the company’s network. They must be secured with functionalities such as encryption, antivirus protection, and application controls.
Risks of improper data storage
Data is typically stored in the cloud or an on-premises datacenter. An on-premises datacenter is where physical assets such as servers, operating systems, and other hardware are kept on company property.
Cloud storage uses a global network of remote servers, providing on-demand access to files and data. Currently, more than 60% of corporate data is stored in the cloud. Cloud environments can be public, private, or a combination of both.
In a public cloud platform, multiple users share virtual resources that are provisioned by third-party vendors. A private cloud is a single-tenant environment, which means the entire computing infrastructure is dedicated to a single organization. There are two primary forms of private cloud: one that is hosted in a remote private cloud and one whose infrastructure is located on-premises.
A hybrid cloud uses components of both public and private clouds, giving organizations greater control over their data management. For example, you can use the on-premises private cloud to store highly sensitive data. Less sensitive, non-critical data can be stored in the public cloud. Thanks to this flexibility with storage options based on data classification, 87% of enterprises leverage a hybrid cloud strategy.
Whether on-premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid environment, the right type of data storage is essential for proper data security. However, not following data storage best practices can open the door to cybersecurity attacks.
For example, in 2021, a cybersecurity analytics firm stored data in an unsecured database that lacked the proper authentication protocols. The exposed database provided open access to more than 5 billion records containing sensitive information such as names, email addresses, and passwords.
The stored data was part of the firm’s cyber intelligence services, which collects information from previous data breaches. If a client’s information appeared in the database, the firm would alert them of a potential data compromise.
However, in this instance, it was the database containing breach data that was exposed. Cyber attackers exploited the lack of password or multi-factor authentication requirements, which allowed for unrestricted access to anyone with an internet connection.
How WinZip Enterprise enhances data storage security
WinZip® Enterprise is a comprehensive solution for maintaining proper data security. It combines industry-leading data encryption, sharing, management, and file compression with centralized IT control. This enables you to customize the user experience, including encryption methods, access controls, and other security provisions.
Thanks to native integration with leading enterprise data storage providers, WinZip Enterprise makes it easy to securely store and share data across services such as One Drive, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and more.