Q: Today so much of our personal and professional data is housed not on our own computers but in large data centers run by third-party companies. What are some of the issues at play with data security and how do we know our data is safe?
Company data stored within data centers is typically very valuable and of an extremely sensitive nature. These companies are consistently looking for new ways to gain a competitive advantage. Much time and money is invested into research in developing new products as well as marketing tactics.
If such information were to get out, it could cause damage to a business in many different ways. In addition to data loss, companies often store data of customers, including email addresses, and credit card information. If this information is breached, a company could lose clients and revenue, and possibly could face legal troubles.
Many companies house their IT infrastructure within third-party data centers. Data centers are facilities that have specific features to support the operation of sensitive IT equipment. In order to protect information, strict security protocols must be implemented within these facilities.
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach is defined as an event in which sensitive information concerning a particular company is leaked. There are two basic scenarios to consider. The first case deals with a situation in which a hacker breaches a network in a data center and extracts sensitive information.
The second situation involves a disgruntled employee who steals sensitive information of his or her own company, and then releases it out into the public.
Fallout of a Data Breach
A data breach can cause a lot of damage to a company. The records of a company that are stored within data centers contain information about the company and its customers and employees. Therefore, a security breach can be regarded as complacency on part of the company. This can lead to a loss of reputation and credibility in the eyes of the public, employees and customers. A negative public image is then translated into loss of revenue because many customers will withdraw their business and go to another company.
On the other hand, a company can also get stuck in legal battles due to a data breach. If a private information is stolen due to negligence of a company, that company can be sued. Legal battles can be very costly and also further damaging in terms of public image.
Securing Data Centers
Data centers employ a number of tactics to make sure that data is kept away from prying eyes.
The first line of defense against hackers is a firewall. A firewall keeps unwanted users out of the network. It also has the ability to identify when a network breach is being attempted.
Data encryption is yet another tactic that is very useful. Once data is encrypted, it can only be decoded via an encryption key. Encoded data is of no use to anybody and stops hackers in their tracks.
Physical security measures, such as biometric devices at the entrance of sensitive locations, are also routine measures. Employees and other personnel are barred from entering server rooms unless they have clearance. Such measures prevent disgruntled or disloyal employees from stealing sensitive data. It also ensures that any unauthorized person, related to the company or not, cannot access private information. This also keeps people from physically sabotaging IT equipment.
A data breach can cause a lot of havoc. That is why companies must invest money for security in data centers or choose a third-party data center that has security protocols in place.