A data breach can strike any business at any time. Whether it’s sensitive information that an organization must protect to maintain its competitive advantage or records needed to meet industry or government regulatory demands – data must be safeguarded. The fallout of a data breach, where protected data is exposed or stolen, is often steep.
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Data breaches can include the theft of intellectual property, the disclosure of customer personally identifiable information, theft of customer financial information, healthcare data and more. According to Risk Based Security’s Data Breach QuickView Report, there were 5,207 breaches reported worldwide through the end of 2017, exposing approximately 7.89 billion records. Many of those records resided on discs, hard drives, removable storage, mobile devices and other places unstructured data is stored.
No industry or business is immune to cyber threats and the resulting security breaches. Data breaches often require public notification to customers, partners, vendors, shareholders and government agencies.
The cost of data breaches on enterprises are high, and they are growing higher. SailPoint’s 2017 Market Pulse Survey reported 67% of enterprises were breached in 2016, with the average material impact to the business at a steep $4 million.
Numerous items factor into these costs, including the size of the breach, detection and escalation costs of the breach event, and post breach expenses such as help desk, remediation, legal costs, identity and credit protection services, regulatory penalties and more. The numbers also go considerably higher for breaches in regulated industries. For example, a healthcare data breach can cost, on average, up to $7 million. A data breach can also impact a company’s business, cause a loss of customers, damage its brand and reputation, and ultimately – impact its bottom line.
The sheer volume of data breaches and recent high-profile breaches show just how big of a challenge cybersecurity is and how difficult it can be for even the most well-intentioned enterprise to avoid.
Good security practices and following cybersecurity frameworks can help, but whatever approach you decide to use as the foundation of your security efforts, keep in mind some key trends. The first is the traditional network perimeter has dissipated, and it doesn’t exist as it once did anymore.
Employees no longer have to work within the confines of the corporate office and access resources through a heavily guarded network. At the same time, attackers have become increasingly skilled at getting through traditional enterprise perimeter defenses.
Further, the number of identities and the nature of identity management within the enterprise is changing. Users accessing sensitive resources include employees, partners, suppliers, vendors, customers and more. And increasingly, Internet of Things (IoT) and automated robotic processes are transforming the very notion of identity.
Identity must be set as central to any breach prevention efforts as a way to stop current, and future, cyber threats from accessing sensitive data. Effective identity management helps organizations to enforce who should have access to what systems, applications and data. Also, should something go wrong, because of the wealth of information held within access logs, effective identity management helps identify how the breach occurred.
According to SailPoint’s 2017 Market Pulse Survey, while enterprises surveyed understand the data breach threat, they struggle with attaining a high-level of visibility into their systems. Fortunately, respondents were aware the best way to capture such visibility is through identity management. More than half see identity management as foundational to their future security strategies, and 87 percent understand how crucial strong identity is to an effective security posture.
Rather than hope a breach never occurs in your enterprise, it is better to mitigate as much risk as possible. Planning ahead and attempting to proactively secure as much of the organization’s sensitive data as possible – before a breach is attempted – while also being prepared for when a breach occurs, is the best way to secure your organization’s data, whether it is stored on-premises or in the cloud.
The reality is that sooner or later, most organizations may experience a breach, and they need to know how to best respond. Whether it’s a breach that just got underway and was stopped quickly because it was identified in time, or a breach that will require broad public disclosure, a quick response is key.
Effective data breach preparedness includes having the ability to quickly investigate what systems and data were compromised, how they were compromised and what data may have been accessed. It also requires having the right technical, legal, cybersecurity, public relations and corporate leadership team in place so the public announcement goes smoothly.
Prevention, detection and response – the battle cry of cybersecurity experts everywhere. Identity touches each of those core tactics in avoiding a data breach. By giving users the right access to the right data at the right time, you’re preventing the data from being a free-for-all in the first place. Through the ability to see user behavior and know when something isn’t right, detection is that much quicker. And being able to lock down those compromised accounts in a critical situation such as a breach, you can respond swiftly. Say it with us: it’s not if but when you’ll be breached. It’s how you prepare and respond that counts.
Identity governance provides visibility into and control over all the identity data across the enterprise, answering three critical questions:
By putting identity at the center of security and IT operations, organizations are able to better mitigate the risks of a breach and protect the information they need to succeed.
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