5 Steps to Unstructured Data Security

The market for file share analysis technology to help organisations understand and manage unstructured data is growing rapidly. It is expected to reach $400 million by the end of 2017.

Here are five key steps enterprises can take towards securing unstructured data and file shares:

  1. Assess security risks. Identify which data is business-critical and which is most at risk. Then find out where that valuable and vulnerable data is stored so you can allocate more resources to protect it. If you need to meet with any regulatory requirements, be sure any security measures taken comply with the corresponding standards.
  2. Optimise file storage. If left unmanaged, unstructured data can quickly become extremely costly in terms of storage. To optimise file storage space, critically evaluate your data to identify information that can be archived or permanently deleted, such as rarely used files, duplicate documents and empty folders. Removing unnecessary information will not only cut file storage costs, but also decrease the attack surface for bad actors and reduce the risk of overlooking critical changes.
  3. Use the least privilege principle. Rigorous control over access to critical data is essential to file share security. Determine what access privileges users really need, and limit their permissions to the absolute minimum required to complete their current tasks.
  4. Analyse user behavior. Studies reveal that employee mistakes or a deliberate abuse of privileges are behind 60 per cent of security incidents. Systems that allow administrators to maintain a close watch on what users do in the IT environment will help quickly identify suspicious activity (such as large-scale data deletions or a spike in the number of failed read attempts) that could indicate an attack in progress, so you can respond before it inflicts considerable harm.
  5. Review and update permissions regularly. As business processes change and employees shift roles and responsibilities within the organisation, user privileges need to be kept up-to-date in a timely fashion.

For optimal access control, you group membership and permission assignments should be regularly reviewed, along with any permissions assigned directly to individuals to ensure they stay in sync with business requirements.

No matter what security mechanisms an organisation has in place, there will always be risk of malicious activity by insiders or external hackers. Deep visibility into unstructured data combined with user behavior analytics can help them beat this challenge and mitigate the risk of data leakage by validating security policies, increasing user accountability, and detecting insider and outsider threats at early stages.

Source : Michael Fimin, CEO and Co-Founder of Netwrix Corporation