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I was recently speaking with a technology value added reseller (VAR). When I asked how often he spoke with his customers about data protection, he answered “All the time!” When I pressed for what he actually talked about, he explained, “I talk about the best ways to keep intruders out of their systems.” By this, he was referring to anti-virus software, firewalls and VPNs; not surprisingly, things he had become quite proficient at selling over the last number of years.
“So, what happens when somebody gets in anyway”, I asked. He looked at me with a blank stare. He had only been having part of the full conversation around enterprise data security.
Although keeping individuals, or groups, with malicious intent out of your network is an important part of protecting your data, it is far from being the whole story. Intrusion Prevention is only one of the three legs to the data protection stool. The other two legs are Network Monitoring and Encryption. It takes all three of these to truly protect any company’s data. If any one of them is missing, the stool simply falls over.
Sadly, most companies learn about their own data breaches only after being told by a partner, vendor or customer. A recent study shows that 69% of data breaches could have been detected before any data was lost if proper system logging was in place. Knowing what is going on within your systems is important to tracking, and taking steps to neutralize, malicious activities. A number of solid and affordable solutions are available for security information and event management. These include LogRhythm, Dell SecureWorks, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager and others. You can’t fix what you don’t know about, and if you’re not actively monitoring your systems, you may be blissfully, but dangerously, unaware.
But ultimately, it’s not about “if” someone will get access to your data, but “when” they will. That means it’s vitally important to make sure they only get their hands on useless data when they do. Using NIST-certified AES encryption along with a FIPS 140-2 certified key management system is the best way to avoid costly fines and notification requirements in the case of a data breach. When that data is lost or stolen, correctly implemented encryption assures that it is nothing more than a bunch of random 1’s and 0’s. Townsend Security’s Alliance Key Manager is an affordable and reliable solution for your customer’s needs in this area.
If you sold your customer a firewall and anti-virus software, but they still experienced a data breach, would they thank you for what you did, or be upset you didn’t do more? I’m guessing the latter.
So the next time you talk to your customer about data protection, remember to have the whole conversation. Make sure you include all three legs of the data protection tool: Network Monitoring, Encryption AND Intrusion Prevention.