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A Comprehensive Guide to Data Security: Mapping Your Data Landscape

Today, knowledge is power, and the first step to data security is knowing what you need to protect. This blog, "Mapping Your Data Landscape," serves as the starting point on your journey to robust data security. We will navigate through the essential task of understanding and documenting your digital terrain. Discover how to identify the data you possess, where it resides, and the importance of creating a comprehensive data inventory. We're doing more than just drawing maps; we're setting up strong defenses to protect your organization's critical data assets.

Discover Where Data Resides:

Initiating this journey is far more than a simple audit—it's a strategic operation to outwit potential attackers. Understand that threats, both external and internal, are tirelessly navigating through networks to uncover weaknesses in your data. By taking the initiative and conducting this in-depth, network-wide discovery on your own, you're not just mapping your organization's critical data assets; you're actively countering these threats, staying one step ahead.

This first step is one of the most crucial steps as it is about scouring every corner of your network to identify where your data is sprawled across various repositories. From CIFS and NFS shares to live and dormant databases, from in-house email systems to on-premises collaboration platforms like SharePoint, the search is exhaustive. But it doesn't stop at the edge of your network. It extends into the cloud, through file collaboration systems like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive, and into the ever-expanding realm of cloud-based SaaS solutions—each potentially housing sensitive data across HR, finance, or legal domains.

Discover Data Metadata:

Unlocking the story behind your data begins with a comprehensive analysis of metadata. In this crucial step, you need to scrutinize the timestamps for file and folder creation, modifications, and access history to not only trace the lifecycle of your data but also assess its ongoing relevance and usefulness within your organization.

Metadata is pivotal in establishing data ownership. You must examine attributes such as NTFS ownership details, along with metadata in Office documents or PDFs that identify creators and editors, to attribute responsibility accurately and maintain your data’s integrity.

It is also essential to systematically evaluate the permissions assigned across your array of data assets. This means inspecting permissions at every level—from folders to shares, sites to databases, and individual tables. Identifying who has what level of access, including permissions to list, read, write, delete, or manage is fundamental to enforcing strict access controls, ensuring that individuals have only the access they need to fulfill their roles, thereby reducing risk and solidifying your data security posture.

Securing Access:

Securing your data assets begins with a thorough understanding of who can access them. Here's what you should be doing in your environment to ensure tighter data security:

  • Start with the permission metadata that's already there. Use it to track down where your data might be exposed to more people than necessary.

  • The analysis should initiate at the broadest level – your entire platform. Look at your servers, your data shares, your sites, and your databases. From there, move inward, examining the libraries, the folders, and the individual data tables.

  • Shift the focus to permissions. It's time to assess whether access is managed through individual user permissions or group-based permissions. Your goal should be to limit explicit individual permissions in favor of group permissions governed by your directory service. This not only streamlines management but also enhances security.

  • Scrutinize for excessive access permissions. Keep an eye out for data that's accessible company-wide, or even worse, to external guests via personal email accounts, or through anonymous links. Identifying where your data is overly exposed is the first step toward restricting access to only those who genuinely need it.

Following these steps will not only reveal where your data is vulnerable but also help you establish a more secure and manageable access structure.

Ensuring Ongoing Data Mapping

The journey towards mapping your organization's data should never be a one-off task—it should be a perpetual cycle of vigilance and improvement. You must embrace the concept of continuous mapping to keep pace with the evolving data landscape. This proactive approach is crucial for uncovering new vulnerabilities that may surface and for detecting any inconsistent configurations that could pose potential risks.

  • Regular Reinforcement of Data Defenses: A one-time scan provides a snapshot, but the dynamic nature of data means that the picture can change daily. Regular scans ensure that you stay ahead of the changes, allowing you to adjust your defenses in response to new data being created, modified, or deleted.

  • Proactive Problem Identification: By continuously mapping your data assets, you foster a proactive stance towards security. You can swiftly identify misconfigurations or unauthorized changes, and by doing so, you can mitigate issues before they escalate into security incidents.

  • Tracking Progress and Compliance: Continuous mapping is also instrumental in tracking the progress of remediation efforts. It provides tangible evidence of improvement and compliance with data governance policies and regulatory requirements, ensuring that you can demonstrate due diligence and accountability.

  • Adapting to Organizational Changes: As your organization grows and transforms, so too will your data environment. Continuous mapping allows your security strategies to evolve in tandem, ensuring that your data security posture remains robust against both current and future threats.

By making continuous mapping an integral part of your data security strategy, you not only enhance your defensive measures but also build a culture that prioritizes the protection of your data assets. It's a commitment to never letting your guard down and to ensuring that your organization’s data security practices remain as dynamic as the landscape they're designed to protect.

Understanding your data is the first step in protecting it. Let’s see how Eevabits Data Risk & Security Assessments align with the crucial aspects of data security covered in this blog.

Eevabits Data Risk & Security Assessments:

When it comes to knowing where your data lives, Eevabits has it covered. Our tools scan through your Microsoft Infrastructure, identifying every nook where your data might be hiding. This ensures you have a complete view of your data's locations, be it on servers or cloud environments.

As for data metadata, it's about knowing your data's story. Our Data Risk Assessment ranks risks based on the data's story - who owns it, where it's been, and why it's important. This helps you prioritize what to protect first.

Securing access is critical. Our Data Security Assessment zeroes in on who has access to your data and how they're getting in. We analyze and strengthen access controls, making sure that only the right eyes are on your sensitive information.

Finally, data security isn’t a one-off task—it needs constant attention. Our assessments are designed for the long haul, providing ongoing strategies to keep up with the changing landscape of your data and potential threats.

By partnering with Eevabits, you’re not just checking a box. You’re ensuring that your approach to data security is as up-to-date and robust as possible. With Eevabits, your roadmap to a secure data environment is clear and actionable.


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