Four safe data practices to mitigate security threats: Piyush Agarwal, Cloudera India
By- Piyush Agarwal,
One cyber-attack could cripple your organization for years in just eighteen minutes. A sophisticated bad actor can access your organization’s networks, access sensitive, personal or proprietary data, and use them for profit – all within the same timeframe as a food delivery order. The financial losses from cyberattacks can be significant, with organizations potentially taking months to years to fully recover. The motive behind these attacks is clear: to access sensitive, personal or proprietary data generated and stored anywhere and everywhere.
A 2022 study by Indusface, a Tata-Capital funded software-as-a-service (SaaS) security firm, revealed that India had become one of the most attacked and breached countries in the world. Among the 829 million cyber-attacks detected and blocked globally by the firm in the fourth quarter of 2022, close to 59% were directed towards India.
No industry is safe. While Indusface noted banking, insurance, IT services and manufacturing as the top segments most vulnerable to attack, Indian government institutions have not been spared. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) estimates that the country witnessed 13.91 lakh cybersecurity incidents in 2022. Even critical functions, like public transit and healthcare, have fallen victim to cyberattacks – be it simple data breaches, or more sophisticated ransomware attacks and denial of service.
Today’s organizations are grappling with how to properly store, manage, control, govern and secure their data, an unintended consequence of our always-on connectivity and proliferation of digital devices. As our digital landscape continues to evolve in both size and complexity, so will the data that we generate – and threats to the security of our data.
These threats are a reality that all Indian organizations must recognize, and take active steps to mitigate. To do so effectively requires that organizations look at four areas of the business: security and governance, network security models, cloud and data strategies, and employee training.
1. Prioritizing security and governance
Security and governance are instrumental pillars to effectively harnessing data. Organizations must prioritize support for these pillars or risk reducing their confidence in using data to unearth digital insights.
A single organization today can generate exabytes of unstructured enterprise data, which is streamed via the edge through billions of devices, sensors and cloud-based applications. Mitigating cyber vulnerabilities requires the organization to first secure its rapid stream of enterprise data in real-time. This requires comprehensive threat detection and mitigation measures, done through the ingestion, tracking, and managing of real-time data securely at scale. To enhance security, organizations must also ask key questions about a data unit’s origin and lineage – such as pipeline tampering possibilities or a dataset’s security status upon its endpoint arrival.
The ability to secure and govern data is even more critical for organizations in tightly controlled operating environments that must abide by innumerable sovereignty rules, standards, and regulations..
2. Implementing a zero-trust approach
The rise of cloud adoption and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) cultures at workplaces have widened opportunities for bad actors to exploit vulnerabilities. Organizations can no longer afford to rely on traditional network security models for data security.
A zero-trust architecture creates a paradigm shift for organizations by applying high levels of scrutiny and suspicion to any entity or device interacting within a network’s perimeter. This architectural stance assumes that networks are hostile by default, and that each interaction and request must be verified by access policies or mechanisms.
By starting with minimal permissions for each role, and then requiring authentication throughout the network plane, zero-trust architectures enable organizations to layer their network security and prevent bad actors from moving deeper into the network.
3. Investing in a modern data platform
The future is hybrid. A modern data strategy can no longer be one-dimensional – not on-premises or cloud or multi-cloud, but a seamless marriage between them. Balancing data security with a business’s inherent need for innovation requires aligning data strategy with cloud strategy and business priorities. This ensures that the organization is well set up to quickly extract insights from all data sources in a secure, governed manner for informed decision making in real-time – no matter where the data resides.
Organizations must also invest in modern data management tools to put their data strategies into action. Ideally, these tools should be scalable enough to properly store and process massive, growing volumes of data, diagnose vulnerabilities for pre-emptive action, and be flexible in allowing data and workloads to freely move to optimize cost, performance, and security. Solutions with advanced capabilities like machine learning (ML) will allow organizations to quickly build adaptive models on new data sources for increased agility and response to market changes.
Tools with built-in security and governance features will enable the organization to enforce consistent security policies through a dataset’s lifecycle. Organizations must build their strategies and plans on top of security and governance, not the other way around. Bolting on third-party security solutions to achieve these benefits after will be a difficult and expensive process.
A hybrid data platform like Cloudera Data Platform that combines scalability, adaptability, and flexibility, with built-in security and governance capabilities, will allow high-value, deeply sensitive data to remain on-premises while taking advantage of the elastic, cost-effective properties of multi-cloud for improved operational efficiency.
4. Educating employees on best practices
Organizations must also remember the potential for security risks and threats that come from within the organization, such as employees and trusted insiders. Vulnerabilities aside, data breaches can occur through insider threats (with cooperation from someone within the organization) or unintentional breaches as a result of social engineering. The most common form of social engineering attacks come from phishing and spear phishing – where bad actors impersonate individuals within a victim’s circle of trust to launch attacks or steal information.
The chaos brought by the pandemic and the shifting business landscape has given bad actors plenty of opportunities to use new techniques to successfully infiltrate organizations worldwide. Recent IBM research reports named ransomware as the biggest cybersecurity pain point for Indian organizations in 2021. Across Asia, server access attacks, ransomware, and data theft were listed as the top attack types on organizations – with. vulnerability exploitation and phishing noted as top infection vectors, both leading to 43% of attacks observed in the region. The use of stolen credentials also contributed to 7% of attacks.
As more organizations seek to democratize their data’s access to business users, teams and employees must be well-trained with proper resources to handle the increasingly complex threats targeting today’s businesses.
Staying vigilant to combat data security challenges
Asia Pacific organizations are expected to generate 7,552 terabits of data per second up until 2025, according to recent research by digital infrastructure company, Equinix. Even as organizations look to harness this data to innovate and drive business impact, challenges remain in the secure storage, management, and governance of data.
We anticipate that threats will become more complex as our world continues to undergo digital transformation. Insider risks and threats – and how they are intentionally or unintentionally carried out – will continue to evolve, even as organizations practice good security hygiene. Bad actors do not discriminate against organizations large or small, and a vulnerability that goes unnoticed could prove costly for the company. Fighting these obstacles will require constant vigilance – and this starts with re-looking at how we approach our everyday data security practices.
The author is Solutions Engineering Lead at Cloudera India.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organization directly or indirectly.