The digital business environment brings tremendous opportunity — along with the risk of data breaches targeting important business data assets. This data is an essential component of decision-making, ongoing operations, market competitiveness and regulatory compliance.

With so much value contained in business data, threats and attacks on an enterprise’s “crown jewels” have become more sophisticated and targeted. Enterprises must apply adequate data protection for data security measures in order to secure intellectual capital, mitigate risks, deter attacks and comply with requirements.

Companies that fail to make data protection an everyday priority run the risk of losing money, losing business and destroying their reputations. Unlike traditional crown jewels locked securely in a safe, the value of critical data is realized through access and exchange.

Given the cultural drivers of information security risk, how can organizations be more effective in addressing the spectrum of cyberthreats that exist today? Data security requires a calculated, holistic and dynamic combination of business process and technology. Critical data often exists across several lines of business and must be accounted for by multiple business stakeholders.

In addition to the expertise and knowledge of the IT security team, a critical data security program must incorporate the needs and viewpoints of other lines of business, including marketing, sales, finance and supply chain operations, starting with the identification and classification of the highest-value data vital to the enterprise’s survival.

Data Security Requires Security Intelligence

When it comes to data security, enterprises often build their own roadblocks from being IT-centric to risk-averse. Even worse are enterprises that equate being compliant with being secure. The following are three basic questions an enterprise should have a detailed knowledge of when considering adequate data security:

  1. Where is it stored?
  2. Who uses it?
  3. How is it protected?

Critical data is often fluid and reflective of the data life cycle — created, stored, consumed or destroyed. A critical data protection strategy is data-centric and does not rely on the most recent security implementation to protect the crown jewels. It is a holistic view of data risk that thoughtfully considers threats, ranging from trusted insiders to cybercriminals to competitors, in a data environment made more complex by mobility, big data, social media, the cloud and virtual computing. An effective critical data protection program must embrace data-centric security as a core model against a changing data threat landscape.

To learn more about data security and strategies for protecting you company’s crown jewels, see my presentation from IBM InterConnect 2015.

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