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Data protection: The gap between accessibility and security

  Michael Thweatt     Jan 07, 2016

data_security.jpgAn enormous challenge for technical and security departments within any organization is creating secure networks, apps, and servers without making access so difficult that legitimate production is impacted. This is true whether you are working with in-house employee-based systems or customer-facing solutions such as web portals or online account management. The consequences for not securing information are huge, ranging from federal or state sanctions to loss of customers or customer trust. At the same time, results of the wrong type of security or unnecessary security might include loss of productivity, inability to make deadlines or complete work, poor employee morale, and loss of revenues. Data protection is key, but how can you ensure you have the right solutions in place?

Understanding What You Should Protect

The first step to bridging the gap between accessibility and security is knowing what you need to protect. Information contained in a digital format usually comes with two components. First, organizations must protect the actual data related to a person’s identity. Known as personally identifiable information or PII, this information might include data elements such as names, social security numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, or any other information that is personally relevant to a single individual. PII is critical from a security standpoint because exposure of this information puts your customers, your employees, and your business at risk.

The second component of data security is protecting the credentials, or login information, that people use to access software and hardware systems. Even if you are perfect at protecting networks and the actual data they hold, if a single person’s credentials are compromised, then hackers or cyber criminals have access to all data and areas of a system that person would have access to.

Training and Security

Strong training programs combined with a data security policy is one of the best methods for keeping credentials safe. Organizations that require regular password maintenance and train workers to keep passwords safe and strong reduce the chance of accidental exposure. While you can’t always train customers who access systems via online portals, you can reduce the chance of breaches by requiring longer, complex passwords and prompting users to change passwords on a regular basis.

Technology Solutions

While strong password management is important and can keep accidental data exposures down, passwords themselves are not usually a match for modern hackers and cyber threats. Even with training, many people create weak passwords, reuse passwords across platforms and websites, write passwords down in unsecure locations, and even share passwords with others they trust. Add in hacker technology that can scrape screens or emulate typing to recreate passwords, steal passwords through malware, or harvest passwords with phishing schemes, and it’s actually a wonder that any system protected only by passwords isn’t inundated with cyber threats.

The overall weakness of password-only data protection when compared to the growing skill set of cyber criminals means organizations have to turn to other security measures. Possible solutions include multi-part authentication, fobs, and biometrics. Multi-part authentication often combines password entry with the need to answer additional security questions. While somewhat more secure than a password-only solution, this method presents issues when people don’t remember the answers to questions. Questions are also easy for hackers to bypass at times, and anyone with stolen credentials can usually hack into question and answer databases just as they would password and login information.

Biometrics can be hacked, but it is much more difficult. They are also a customized solution for every person. Integrating such solutions into data security can be costly, though, and biometric solutions often fail at certain temperature or moisture points. Key fobs are a more reliable solution, but they can also be expensive and difficult to implement and fobs can be stolen or lost.

Combining Technology and Simplicity

Intel IPT solutions take all of the benefits and disadvantages of various security measures into account to create simple, hardware-based solutions that are easier and less costly in the long-term. Devices feature integrated chips and other tools that do the work of key fobs and other multi-factor authentication. The user still logs in with a user name and password, and hardware components complete the rest of the handshake with servers, software, or web portals. Working with an IT solutions provider to create hardware-based solutions that address your security concerns can reduce overall expenses while keeping data and networks safe.

Learn about the security solutions WEI provides and contact us to discuss your unique needs.

Tags  data security

Michael Thweatt

Written by Michael Thweatt

Mike Thweatt, Sales Executive at WEI, helps our customers transform IT from a cost center to a new profit center by aligning solutions that will provide our customers with their desired business outcomes. Mike’s specialties include transforming technology features into quantifiable business value, strategic market planning, and cultivating collaborative relationships. Mike holds VMware, HPE, and Fortinet certifications.

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