August 8, 2023 By Ronda Swaney 4 min read

Practicality and simplicity: That’s what data security analysts want most from their data protection tools. That’s the essence we gleaned from the Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact (TEI) study commissioned by IBM for its IBM Security Guardium Data Protection product.

The TEI study focuses specifically on Guardium Data Protection, but its interviews with security professionals reveal common concerns that data security analysts (DSAs) face. As they stare down an ever more complex data landscape, here are five lessons about what DSAs want from their data protection tools.

Lesson 1: Visibility

You can’t protect what you can’t see. As the speed, volume and variety of data grow, visibility has become harder to realize. DSAs need improved insight into what data they have, where it resides and how to safeguard it. One way to achieve that visibility is to use tools that can discover, classify and catalog data assets, all from a single centralized dashboard. To cope with their data mix, DSAs need this capability applied to on-prem and cloud-based data since the assets they manage span both environment types. A modern data security strategy requires tools that work no matter where the data resides.

Lesson 2: Compatibility

DSAs need tools that work across their multiple database instances and seamlessly integrate with their other data protection tools. In the TEI study, one interviewee noted, “We can integrate IBM Security Guardium Data Protection with our other inventory tools to be able to feed in new database instances.”

Tools that offer compatibility and centralization help enable seamless scaling. As another interviewee noted, “I am adding 100 databases, 200 databases without any issues. I have the control, and the centralization of consolidated data is key.”

Lesson 3: Automated monitoring

Who has access to the data? What can they do with it? For DSAs, their work revolves around answering those two questions. It also highlights a key vulnerability. DSAs need to know who can read, retrieve and alter data. Automated, real-time monitoring is a priority for protecting sensitive, mission-critical information. Automation also helps you discover vulnerabilities and security gaps and discern between high-priority and low-priority threats.

With this information, DSAs can prioritize their threat response efforts. For example, the Guardium Vulnerability Assessment tool can uncover missing patches, weak passwords, unauthorized data changes, incorrect privileges, unusual and excessive logins, unusual after-hours activity and other behaviors that point to possible security lapses. It can also provide recommended actions to take to remove those vulnerabilities.

Download the study

Lesson 4: Easier audits

DSAs need to perform audits but often must rely on manual processes to gather information from their various databases and then report the findings. As the TEI study noted, manual processes “led to a lack of visibility into the overall data security at their organizations, which potentially exposed them to data breaches and made them unable to efficiently respond to audit requests.”

The audit process is necessary both for internal reasons, such as to identify internal threats and for external regulations that demand corporate governance and compliance. Relying on manual processes is inefficient and error-prone. The TEI study noted, “After the investment in the IBM Security Guardium Data Protection product, the interviewees were able to monitor all data through a centralized location, get standard reports across databases and use the prebuilt workflows for audits.” This resulted in efficiency and productivity gains, as well as reducing the risk of a data breach.

Lesson 5: Adapting to changing regulations

HIPAA, SOX, PCI, CCPA, GDPR — there’s an alphabet soup of regulations that enterprises must comply with, varying with geography and industry. As they always do, those regulations will change and grow. Being able to easily adapt to and comply with those regulations is a necessity for DSAs as they search for data protection and compliance tools. They seek options that make compliance easier and offer a simple process for adapting to new regulations as well. One TEI interviewee described the benefits of using Guardium for compliance: “We are going with 0% gap for SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) compliance. We can produce what they ask. That’s the best measurement for us.”

ROI implications

DSAs seek practicality and simplicity from their data protection tools. But how do those features affect ROI and the productivity of data security teams? The Forrester Consulting TEI study commissioned by IBM set out to quantify that for the IBM Security Guardium product. They discovered that benefits included:

  • Improved database security monitoring that resulted in 25% less demand on DSA time by streamlining the monitoring and centralizing of security reporting
  • Increased auditing efficiency, which meant DSAs spent 70% less time completing auditing tasks
  • Better compliance through the use of prebuilt audit workflows that made it quick to respond to audit requests and demonstrate compliance
  • Improved database security via better detection of potential data risks and through uncovering the databases that needed stronger protective measures
  • Compatibility with multiple databases and tools and strong user community support that provided a better overall customer experience.

The study concluded that a representative composite organization could experience a measurable benefit of $5.86 million over three years versus costs of $1.16 million. The result was a net present value of $4.70 million and an ROI of 406%.

Invest in the tools you need

As you search for data protection tools for your team, these five takeaways provide a baseline for measuring the efficacy of your choices.

If your DSA team needs data protection tools that deliver efficiency, productivity and ROI, consider deploying IBM Security Guardium. Download the 2023 IBM-commissioned Forrester Consulting TEI study to examine the potential ROI your enterprise might realize after the deployment of the solution. The study uncovered that organizations achieve cost and risk reductions alongside increased productivity and efficiency by adding IBM Security Guardium to their data protection toolbox. Read the study to learn more.

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