Many Americans have spent the last few days frantically searching for receipts and other documentation to finish their taxes before April 15th — only to realize they get a one-month reprieve this year.
Despite that sigh of relief, there's no doubt that some of those people thought they knew exactly where to find what they needed, and were dismayed to discover that their confidence — and their data — had been misplaced.
Do You Know Where Your Data Is?
How confident are you about your organization's sensitive data?
Are you aware of all the transactions moving through the company's network? Who is sending and pulling files, and why? What's the best way to manage all of these data exchanges? Isn't there a more user-friendly solution than prohibiting all FTP communications except from specified computers or user profiles?
Efficient Workflow Requires Efficient Data Flow
There's no doubt that data security is critical. So is the ability to exchange information to accomplish daily business goals. Nearly every department needs to exchange files with trading partners, customers, vendors, remote employees, and more.
Here are just a few examples of data your company may be exchanging every day:
Finance, Accounting, and HR
- Tax documents
- Annual, quarterly monthly reports to shareholders, investors, banks, financial partners
- Personnel reporting
Marketing and Sales
- Art files to/from artists, printers, marketing partners
- Video and other content for web, publishers, printers
- PDF brochures, proposals, whitepapers to prospects, partners, customers
- Data files to/from system integration partners
- Database exchanges with business networks
- System updates
- EDI file transaction exchanges
- Update to HA and offsite systems
- Customer update documents
- Client reporting documents
- Receipt of supporting documents
- Supplier data exchange
- Customer data exchange
- Inventory reporting
Research & Development
- Product specifications to/from manufacturing partners
- Large CAD/engineering data to/from development partners
Related Reading: 6 Common Cybersecurity Myths
How Do You Control the Data Flow?
Educate Your Employees
Each organization has developed rules, standard operating procedures, and codes of conduct to maintain productivity, positive morale, and customer confidence. Ideally, these policies are documented and part of employee training. Data security should be no different.
It's imperative that the rules governing data management are also included in the documented policies and that all employees, regardless of their position or department, understand their role in your data management and security policies.
Clear directives regarding management's expectations is the first line of defense against data breach.
Implement the Appropriate Technological Solutions
The right tools can also play a valuable part in your approach to data control.
1. Understand Your Data
Knowing what data you have on hand makes it easier to determine how you should protect it. Identifying, classifying, and prioritizing the data you need to manage should be the first step in your data protection plan. A data classification solution can help you retain control of the data moving within your organization, and leaving it.
2. Detect and Prevent Leaks
Avoid inadvertent data leaks and seal cracks in your system with a data loss prevention (DLP) solution. DLP helps organizations minimize their risks by detecting and preventing unauthorized exposure before a breach can occur. Keep your most valuable business assets safely within your organization when you implement a DLP solution.
Further, firewalls can assist by not only protecting the company network from outside intruders, but can also help manage internal traffic.
3. Secure Your File Movement and Storage
Most data exchanges can be performed through secure email, FTP, and network communications. A combined implementation of firewall and managed file transfer (MFT) solutions help to secure and distribute the resource requirements as appropriate for every department's needs.
Related Reading: Is Transferring Files Through Email Secure?
An MFT solution allows specific types of transfers based on users' permissions or specified events so the inbound/outbound flow of data can be better managed and monitored. With an MFT solution in place, audit logs are automatically kept of each data exchange. Files and emails can be encrypted and secured to ease worries that they might be sent to the wrong people.
The Bottom Line
Given the multitude of data files that need to be moved in and out of your organization, and the need to create efficient workflows that allow employees to do their jobs while maintaining strict vigilance about data security, few facets of your business are more important than controlling your data flow. Getting information in the right hands and keeping sensitive data shielded from non-authorized access is an ongoing challenge, but education and the right tools are the keys to success.
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