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DevOps Glossary

Data Security

What is Data Security?

Data security is one of the most important concerns for IT organizations that host applications and their related databases on cloud computing platforms. Data security can be described as the set of policies, processes, procedures, and tools that IT organizations implement to prevent unauthorized access to their networks, servers, data storage and any other on-premise or cloud-based IT infrastructure.

The proliferation of the cloud computing service model along with big data has changed the way that IT organizations approach data security. In the past, IT organizations established their own on-premise IT infrastructure that included databases with sensitive data. Today, IT organizations deal with larger volumes of sensitive information than ever before and much of that information may be stored in public cloud environments to ensure its availability for web-based applications. IT organizations that store data in the cloud must implement comprehensive data security to prevent data theft by unauthorized users.

In addition to preventing data theft, data security measures also prevent data from being mistakenly altered or deleted and authenticate users to prevent unauthorized access.

Why is Data Security Important?

Data security is a vital business process for IT organizations that depend on cloud infrastructure to deliver key applications, services, and functions to the business. Data security measures prevent unauthorized users from performing actions that could seriously impact the organization in many ways, from the availability of services to the reputation and financial health of the business.

Data Security and Service Availability

Building a new software application represents a tremendous investment of time and resources for the IT organization. Incurring all of those expenses without paying attention to security would be like buying a new sports car and leaving it parked on the street with the keys in the ignition - a terrible idea. Without adequate data security measures in place, an employee could accidentally delete or modify data sets that are critical for service delivery or a cyber attacker could access back-end systems and make changes, triggering service outages that impact revenue.

Data Security and Business Competitiveness

When an IT organization builds a new product, it generates an intellectual property that increases the value of the business. With inadequate data security measures, an unauthorized user could steal the application source code and related data. The data could be sold to a competitor who wishes to duplicate the application and capture market share.

Data Security and the Cost of Data Breaches

Data breaches where customer data is exposed are tremendously costly for the organizations that experience them. The average data breach in the United States in 2019 cost the target company $8.19 million, an average of $242 per record exposed. These costs include customer notification expenses, litigation fees, loss of business and other elements that can seriously financially damage an organization.

Data Security and Compliance

Some organizations in certain industries must comply with legal requirements or standard operating procedures for protecting consumer data. Compliance is a major motivating factor behind data security for businesses that deal with sensitive customer data on a regular basis.

Data Security and Company Reputation

Implementing effective data security measures is a necessary step towards maintaining the reputation of the organization. Data breaches have a negative impact on the way a business is perceived by its customers and partners. Companies like Facebook, Equifax and LinkedIn have all had their reputations tarnished as a result of data breaches and subsequent mismanagement.

Data Security Technologies and Solutions Explained

IT organizations have many options for securing their data and applications in the cloud. Rather than relying on a single solution, most IT organizations implement a range of solutions that play different roles within the data security ecosystem and protect data from different types of vulnerabilities. Below, we highlight some of the most commonly implemented data security technologies and solutions for the cloud.

Perimeter Firewall

A perimeter firewall controls the flow of network traffic across the outer boundary of a network. Perimeter firewalls operate in both directions. They can prevent users within the network from accessing external content that could be unsafe, such as a website that tries to install malware on the user's machine. A perimeter firewall can be configured to block incoming traffic that does not have a corresponding outbound request, ensuring that only permitted traffic enters the network.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a commonly used software application for detecting malicious traffic on cloud networks and environments. An IDS works by monitoring network traffic and checking it against a set of rules that covers known patterns of suspicious or nefarious traffic.

SEM/SIM/SIEM Tools

This class of data protection technology includes three types of separate-but-related software tools:

  • Security Information Management (SIM) tools that collect and aggregate event log data from applications and other cloud infrastructure
  • Security Event Management (SEM) tools that analyze event log data for suspicious events that may correlate with a security breach
  • Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) tools that incorporate features of both SIM and SEM applications

SIEM tools with real-time alerting capabilities can function as an early detection system for possible data security events impacting applications and assets on the network.

Data Encryption

Data encryption is the practice of transforming stored data into another form or coding it so that only someone with the correct encryption key can decode the data. Data encryption can protect data that is lost in a data breach, as the cyber attacker who stole the information will be unable to use it without the encryption key.

Data Back-Up

The worst-case scenario for an IT organization happens when data is lost and there is no back-up server or database from which it can be restored. The creation of a secure data back-up ensures that data will not be permanently lost if a breach occurs and can also help the IT organization restore service more rapidly in the event of a data loss event or accidental modification of data items.

User Authentication

User authentication ensures that only employees of the company with the appropriate information are given access to sensitive data. IT organizations can implement multi-factor authentication or Separation of Duties (SoD) to ensure that only permitted users may access the system and to make it difficult for individual users to take actions that could compromise data.

Secure Your Data in the Cloud with Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic's cloud-native platform provides a robust feature set that supports data security in the cloud. With Sumo Logic, your integrated SecOps team can:

  1. Collect and aggregate logs from applications and data servers throughout the network
  2. Analyze log data using machine learning and pattern recognition algorithms to detect possible data security issues
  3. Configure real-time monitoring and alerts for suspicious network events
  4. Streamline incident response and reduce time-to-resolution for security events

Sumo Logic helps IT organizations turn their event and application logs into actionable insights that help maintain network and data security in the cloud.