In July we launched Classifier, a free data classification tool that allows you to quickly and easily uncover sensitive data in your database(s). Since its launch, the tool has been widely used around the globe, which comes as no surprise given the heightened focus on data protection. Furthermore, the pending GDPR enforcement deadline in May of 2018 puts an even greater emphasis on the topic of data classification.
No matter where you go for advice on data protection, data breach prevention or GDPR readiness, the message remains the same: the fundamental first step to take when tackling these initiatives is understanding your data landscape and knowing where sensitive data resides. As explained in our previous blog post on Classifier, you can scan a database to identify how much sensitive data resides in it (by column count and row count), categorize the findings by type of sensitive data (names, addresses, IDs, etc.), as well as pinpoint its exact location (by schema, table and column). See Figures 1 and 2 below.
Figure 1: Classifier report dashboard shows the data classification scan results — a snapshot of sensitive data in the database by column and row and a breakdown of sensitive data by category.
Figure 2: Detailed list of sensitive data showing a granular breakdown of each sensitive data category by schema and table.
Once you have the results of a classification scan in hand, you can make informed decisions on how to manage the associated risk. Here are three ways you can use the results of a Classifier scan to drive further value in your organization.
#1: Report to Executives with More Confidence
Due to the sheer number of massive data breaches that have occurred over the past 3-4 years, data security and data breach prevention have moved from being just an IT issue to a corporate and board-level concern. IT teams are now asked by senior executives, “How exposed are we to a data breach?”, “What are we doing to ensure we don’t end up in the news for a data breach?”, “Do we have ‘it’ covered?”.
Clearly, these questions are difficult to answer but with the results from Classifier you can provide a factual response on what you have scanned and discovered, providing senior management with the confidence of knowing that risk is being properly investigated and evaluated. Moreover, this information then allows you to make informed recommendations to senior management and the board on how this data needs to be protected.
#2: Prioritize Next Steps in your Data Protection Strategy
Organizations often find securing their sensitive data landscape a very daunting task. With so much data in so many locations (on-premises, cloud, mobile devices, etc.), it is hard to know where to start. Rather than trying to boil the ocean and protect everything at once, you can use the results from Classifier to identify the highest priority databases in terms of sensitivity and protect those deemed to be at greatest risk first.
#3: Make Better Data Security Purchase Decisions
When faced with the fallout of a data breach or not wanting to be the next company in the headlines, it is very important that you make the right decisions on what solutions to buy to help secure your data. As we have heard many times, there is no silver bullet for data security and organizations must take a layered approach to protect their data. However, without knowing what sensitive data you have and where it is located, you could end up making purchase decisions misaligned with your data security and compliance needs. Classifier results can allow management to make more informed purchasing decisions and assist in gathering the necessary budget.
Knowledge is Power: Next Steps
English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon is often credited with coining the phrase “knowledge is power”, and that is what Classifier delivers. The successful completion of a data classification exercise provides you with the knowledge and power to take the next steps in protecting one of your organization’s most valuable assets—its data.
When it comes to taking those next steps Imperva can help, starting with these top three priorities:
- Monitor Access to Data: Database activity monitoring analyzes database activity, providing a proactive security enforcement layer to protect sensitive data and it delivers a detailed audit trail that shows the Who, What, When, Where, and How of each data transaction
- Stop Attacks in Real Time: A database firewall can stop attacks in real-time to prevent hackers from accessing your sensitive data and can either quarantine activity pending user rights verification or block the activity – without disrupting business by disabling the entire account.
- Protect Non-Production Data: Data masking reduces the risk of sensitive data loss in non-production environments by replacing sensitive data with realistic fictional data which can be deployed in non-production systems such test and development environments, data warehouses and data analytics stores. It also facilitates data transport for outsourcing or compliance with international privacy regulations (i.e. GDPR, HIPAA and PCI-DSS).