The Advantages of a Data-Centric Approach to Security vs. File or User-Centric

Why workplace changes, and growing existential and insider threats to data protection, are driving a rapid transition to data centric security solutions.


Effective data protection is one of the biggest challenges faced by modern businesses and organizations. A business that cannot guarantee file-level security runs a high risk of data loss and subsequent financial penalties. These include fines imposed by official regulators, or fines and damages imposed by the courts.


Data-compromised enterprises may suffer reputation damage or the loss of customers and contracts. They can also rapidly lose ground to competitors who steal research data, pirate their products, or exploit stolen customer data. In the modern economy, data loss invariably equates to financial loss. Tragically, the financial penalties of data loss are often severe enough to bankrupt small and medium-sized businesses.


Why IT Managers Are Opting for a Data Centric Approach to Security


Hot data is the lifeblood of modern corporations. The uninterrupted flow of it is essential to the smooth running of businesses, especially those dependent on time-sensitive procedures and complex collaboration. In some cases, IT managers responsible for data protection have been pressured to compromise on security by colleagues and superiors whose primary concern is to meet their own operational targets.


IT managers are increasingly aware that the only way to ensure file-level security - without inhibiting work flows and alienating employees - is to adopt a data-centric approach to security that enables flexible risk-based data management. The strategic advantage of data centric security solutions is that they preemptively secure sensitive data on command. Comprehensive data centric encryption renders leaked or stolen data worthless to hostile actors.


Effective Data Protection in a Rapidly Changing Workplace


The average corporate workplace has undergone massive changes over the last few years. These changes are partly due to cultural and demographic shifts. They also include technological innovations like teamwork tools and biz apps that disperse sensitive data beyond company control. Widespread use of freelancers and subcontractors - and rapid turnover of employees - exacerbates these issues.


The current workplace revolution was precipitated by the COVID-19 lockdowns and the sudden requirement for employees to work from home. Businesses were forced to rapidly adapt to remote working. The old perimeters no longer apply and it is harder for employers to track who employees are engaging with, which devices they are using, and even which wifi networks they are connecting to.


Avoidable Data Loss from Human Error and Negligence


The negligent remote worker is a new concern for IT pros evaluating risk based data security. An entirely plausible data loss scenario is a remote employee who takes an undisclosed vacation in a foreign country, and uses an unprotected device to connect to a public wifi. Even conscientious and risk-aware employees send and receive thousands of emails with little regard for sensitive data protection. Employees at every level routinely circumvent irksome security protocols.


If an employee is one of the estimated 10% of smartphone owners who doesn’t use a numerical password or biometric check to secure their device, or carelessly stores sensitive data on an unprotected thumb drive, the risks are multiplied. If a device is lost or stolen, the data is too.


Data Loss Via the Deliberate Targeting of Employees


Social media provides a perfect recruiting ground for industrial espionage. A few hours on Facebook, Linkedin and Google will produce a substantial list of target employees. Individual social media posts often reveal employees who are resentful, demoralized, or otherwise vulnerable to inducements or pressure.


Malicious actors can target vulnerable employees in a variety of ways and with varying levels of sophistication. Possibly the simplest method is to impersonate a colleague or a superior and ask for a password or user access - or to simply to send a request for specific data. Anybody can generate a plausible fake email address, while a hacker who discovers email and social media passwords can wreak havoc.


The offer of a better job or a simple bribe might be enough to corrupt many disillusioned or desperate employees. Unguarded online activity can reveal gambling or substance abuse problems, emotional or health issues, debts and financial problems and reckless spending habits. If the stakes are high enough, major players can systematically infiltrate their target's life and use deceit and manipulation to get the information they require.


Deliberate and Revenge Data Leaks by Employees


Employers also need to safeguard against data loss due to deliberate sabotage by employees. A resentful or vindictive employee - or more likely an ex-employee - can leak a mass of sensitive data with a single click. The more calculating will time any data leak to cause maximum disruption - be it corporate embarrassment or financial loss. Intelligent use of encryption software, VPNs and the dark web can make it extremely difficult to meet a legal burden of proof when companies search for the culprit.


The average modern employee stays in their job for a much shorter time period than previous generations. There is greater hostility and suspicion towards corporate entities and more workplace cynicism. Employers cannot rely on loyalty, team spirit (or basic self-interest) to the extent that they used to. The proliferation of insider threats is a significant driving factor behind the data centric approach to security.


Old-School Data Data Protection Solutions are Obsolete


Old fashioned data protection solutions that rely on firewalls and antivirus software are largely obsolete. Reactive event driven encryption is also inadequate in today’s complex collaborative workplaces. A holistic, data centric approach to security is a prerequisite for any business that wants to survive constantly evolving existential threats and growing opportunities for insider threats.


5 Advantages of a Data Centric Approach to Security


Effective data centric security provides 5 major advantages over obsolete data protection solutions. A data encryption tool like Actifile ensures that:


  1. You have secure data management and exchange throughout your supply chain and IT ecosystems.

  2. Automated data centric security delivers ongoing data protection that is always up to date.

  3. Data centric encryption makes sensitive data completely unreadable in the event of a breach.

  4. Sensitive data is secured anywhere it travels, and on any device.

  5. Encrypted sensitive data is always secure: inside and outside the organization, while being created, when in motion, when being used, and even while dormant.

You may also be interested in:

The Importance of Shifting the Focus from Event-Driven to Preemptive, Data-Centric Security

Now Is The Right Time To Discuss Data Risk

Why and How to Balance Security & Usability

Data privacy – a Daunting Opportunity

Implement Risk Based Data Management


Actifile: Your Data Centric Solution for Complete Security


Actifile’s revolutionary software is making risk based data management an affordable reality for thousands of business owners around the world. The data centric encryption process achieves FIPS 140-2 validation and gives users the flexibility to apply risk based data security policies that balance cybersecurity and usability requirements.


Non-Intrusive Risk Based Data Security


Actifile software was designed to be user-friendly and work-friendly. The software operates across your entire IT ecosystem, but is entirely non-intrusive. Actifile users experience zero disruption to daily workflows. Company employees - and all authorized data recipients - can collaborate freely across multiple devices, channels and even shadow cloud.


Actifile software is one of the few risk-based data security solutions that requires no special expertise in data security or compliance. Any IT manager can initiate an automated systems scan and receive a map of all sensitive data - with risk quantification in a major currency - within 48 hours. 1-Click data encryption enables flexible remediation, with either immediate or delayed encryption. The dashboard also allows automatic decryption and delayed decryption by channel. Actifile is entirely perimeter free with hybrid cloud and delivers full on-prem usage.


If you want a sophisticated risk-based data security solution that is simple to implement, requires minimal maintenance and delivers 24 hour protection, Actifile’s groundbreaking software can transform your IT operations.


Schedule a free automated risk assessment now