Data Loss is a risky business

by Amy Hitchmough on 27 Sep 2016

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The measure of potential loss is the definition of risk. Within IT security risk is often the measure of threats (how likely is malicious behavior), vulnerability (the weakness in the system which can be exploited), and harm (the potential damage achieved by a threat exploiting a weakness). With risk, the most important element is harm. Without harm, there is no risk.

Insurance, safe boxes, due diligence, and currency hedges are some of the ways that companies attempt to reduce harm to the profitability of their business and assets. So if information is considered a corporate asset then protection of business data is necessary to retain the value of the asset and prevent loss. Therefore, data protection is about mitigating business risk by limiting the threat and protecting mission-critical business data.

The Impact of Data Loss

It is recognized by a business that data loss is a risk. Even if a fiscal value is not attributed to the data, it can have a significantly negative effect. The impact of data loss can be threefold.

Firstly, the data is unrecoverable. Key business records could be permanently lost forever or exist only in a hard-copy format. Any business process that is reliant on that data will be hampered. This is a bad situation.

Secondly, the data could recoverable but will take considerable time to restore. This is the most likely scenario and relies on data being backed up in an alternate place. This is a better situation than irrecoverable loss, but takes the data out of action while the recovery procedures take place. In some situations, the data may not be completely recovered. This often occurs with data restored from nightly backups. Data created during the day is lost forever as it is not on the backup tapes.

Finally, if the lost data is unavailable, either permanently or temporarily, it could cause applications not directly related to fail. This is especially true of relational databases that reference other databases. Loss of a central database of customer information, for example, may cause problems with the sales system because it references customer information.

Stolen Data

Data loss through theft of secrets, or a breach of private data occurs when a thief is able to access internal company information vital to business operations. The economic impact of theft of corporate data is difficult to ascertain, because it is indirect harm and accrues over time

Data theft or violation has legal consequences. In the European Union, for example, it is required that “Member States shall provide that the controller must implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data against accidental or unlawful destruction or accidental loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure or access, in particular where the processing involves the transmission of data over a network, and against all other unlawful forms of processing.”

Allowing sensitive or confidential data to fall into the hands of outsiders has serious consequences for your business. Whether it happens accidentally or with malicious intent, a data breach can mean costly fines for compliance violations, loss of consumer confidence, and a tarnished brand.

WatchGuard Data Loss Prevention, available from SysGroup Plc, WatchGuard Platinum Partner, is a uniquely comprehensive service for the WatchGuard UTM platform that helps keep private data private. It’s affordable, easy to configure, and integrated into WatchGuard’s award-winning XTM family of network security solutions.

WatchGuard DLP prevents data breaches by scanning text and common file types to detect sensitive information. All data in motion, whether transferred via email, web, or FTP, is automatically inspected. Unlike other UTM DLP vendors, WatchGuard’s subscription-based service includes a predefined library of more than 200 rules for 18 countries, covering personally identifiable information (PII), financial data, and healthcare information. Rule sets are updated monthly to stay current with data definitions and compliance mandates around the world.

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