Data security is the safeguarding of the systems and data belonging to an organization against unauthorized access, modification and use. This helps in preventing data breaches, which could cause disruption to businesses and financial losses, compliance penalties, and reputational damage. Modern methods of protecting data comprise a mix of technologies, tools and best practices that concentrate on the three pillars of data protection: Confidentiality (preventing information from being viewed or read without authorization), Integrity (ensuring that the information is accurate and unaltered) and Availability (ensuring that information is readily available whenever it is needed).

The first step towards effective data security is to create and maintaining an inventory and mapping of your data sets. This includes cataloging all data stored in your data centers, storage devices that are network-attached and desktops, mobile devices, cloud services offered by third-party companies and software applications. It is essential to consider physical storage such as USB sticks and external hard drives, as well as discarded documents and printed documents. They are often ignored and may contain a plethora of confidential information, making them a popular target for cybercriminals.

Once you’ve gained insight into your data sets the next step is to categorize the sensitive data so that you know how and where it exists within your infrastructure. This allows you to prioritize your security efforts, ensuring that the most valuable data is secured while less critical information remains easily accessible. It also allows you to meet regulatory and industry requirements like those that apply to finance, health care and telecommunications.

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