Dec
27

Big Data: Classifying and Protecting Data

Big Data: Classifying and Protecting Data

December 27
By

Most of your data is sensitive, but not all sensitive big data is created equal. For instance, financial data is much more sensitive and should be secured at a higher level than general data. Data sensitivity is classified by the consequences that could occur if the data is breached. For this reason, IT managed service providers need to know where data is stored, the people who use that data, and audit any access to data to quickly secure any security holes.

Types of Data

Classifying data is simple when you understand its purpose and the consequences if it’s lost. Even colleges have made strides in classifying big data to protect students and teachers. For instance, if you lose internal pricing data a competitor might see your wholesale prices, but are those consequences as big as when customer credit card numbers are leaked. Your competitor might be able to view pricing data, but think of the negative press and loss of trust when customers know the managed provider didn’t protect sensitive data.

Data can be categorized into four types: personal, financial, medical or public. Obviously, public data is not sensitive and it encompasses information such as products and pricing. Personal data includes a customer’s name and address. Personal data is contact information. Financial data is any bank account or credit card on file for a customer, and medical data is a customer’s medical history and information.

It’s obvious to most IT managed service providers which data must be secured, and which data has consequences if it’s leaked. But the level of protection is usually distinguished by the MSP’s experience in security and the general understanding of who uses the data. Poor service providers can be lazy when it comes to securing data, and others might just not have the experience to deal with hackers.

Securing Sensitive Big Data

The level of security placed on sensitive data is dependent on how it’s used. If the data can be accessed from the web, use SSL security certificates on the server and encrypt the data in the database.

If data is used internally only, keep audit records of each employee who accesses, deletes and changes a record. These audit records should be backed up for several months and can be discarded after 6 months.

For any type of data, firewalls should be in place to protect from hackers. Firewall systems also log IP addresses when someone accesses the network.

All of these systems can be used to protect data, and you can segment data by classification to keep it simple for security. Above all, maintain security standards that protect customers’ data from the latest hacks.

Still looking for solutions? Learn how ShadowProtect can help you store backups of critical data locally, and in the cloud.

Photo Credit: LaMenta3 via Compfight cc

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