Secure data is data that is both protected and available. Whether you use hardware or software measures to keep your data under virtual lock and key, you can make sure everything stays protected from cyber predators, unforeseen disasters, and simple errors.
As data security options grow more sophisticated, so do the efforts of cyber criminals and the potential for failure at scale. Today’s top data security concerns center around four areas: confidentiality, integrity, availability, and non-repudiation.
How to keep your data confidential.
Mozilla defines data confidentiality as “protecting information from being accessed by unauthorized parties.” It’s keeping sensitive information private, so only authorized people with a need to know have access to it.
Confidentiality is important because once information slips through a breach in the security wall, there is no way to recapture it. Credit card numbers, bank records, and medical files are particularly vital to keep confidential.
Data confidentiality requires rigorously practicing the fundamentals of data security. For instance, make sure devices are physically inaccessible to unauthorized parties, back up your data, keep your malware protection up to date, and secure your wireless network.
The easiest way to keep your data confidential is to make your password strong by using an easy-to-remember collection of letters, numbers, and marks that is hard for hackers to guess.
How to maintain data integrity.
Integrity refers to the accuracy and consistency of stored data. You might replace the phrase “data integrity” with “data quality” for the same meaning. Questions about integrity include: Is the data whole? Is it standardized? Can it be authenticated?
Data management software should help you check for errors and validate your data. If your data is inaccurate, your decision-making criteria will be skewed.
Threats to data integrity include human error, transfer errors, misconfigurations, malware, and compromised hardware.
You can reduce your risk from these threats by keeping all computer systems 21 CFR Part 11 compliant. You can also conduct regular data audits, employ error checking software, back up your data consistently, and protect your physical hardware.
How to make sure your data stays available.
It’s critical to keep data secure, but it’s equally important to make sure you can cluster and surface your data in ways that are meaningful and legible to you and your decision makers.
According to TechTarget, “Data availability is a term used by some computer storage manufacturers and storage service providers (SSPs) to describe products and services that ensure that data continues to be available at a required level of performance in situations ranging from normal through ‘disastrous.”
Keeping your data available means preparing for disaster. An act of God such as flooding, fire, or earthquake can render your data inaccessible. Cloud computing and co-location are great ways to stay ready for these disaster scenarios. Also be sure to monitor your data, your servers, and other potential failure points. This approach allows you to prevent data disasters before they occur.
Having data available when you need it is key to staying in business. Develop a strategy that works for you to keep your data as available as possible but as secure as necessary.
How to achieve non-repudiation.
Non-repudiation is a legal term that essentially means it is impossible to deny the origins and authenticity of a message. It is especially useful in digital signatures on legally binding documents such as loan applications, mortgages, and binding arbitration.
While information security specialists focus on data authenticity, courts of law are concerned about non-repudiation. For a message or signature to be legally valid, the court must be certain of its origin and that it was neither forged nor corrupted.
That’s why remote signatures rely on official IDs and a Qualified Electronic Signature instead of a laptop, mobile device, or desktop. If your business relies on non-repudiation, talk to your managed IT provider about how to protect digital signatures and emails from repudiation attacks.