Compliance First: How to Protect Sensitive Data

by Mariann McDonagh       • September 20, 2018

The ability to more efficiently govern, discover and protect sensitive data is something that all prospering data-driven organizations are constantly striving for.

It’s been almost four months since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect. While no fines have been issued yet, the Information Commissioner’s Office has received upwards of 500 calls per week since the May 25 effective date.

However, the fine-free streak may be ending soon with British Airways (BA) as the first large company to pay a GDPR penalty because of a data breach. The hack at BA in August and early September lasted for more than two weeks, with intruders getting away with account numbers and personal information of customers making reservations on the carrier’s website and mobile app. If regulators conclude that BA failed to take measures to prevent the incident— a significant fine may follow.

Additionally, complaints against Google in the EU have started. For example, internet browser provider Brave claims that Google and other advertising companies expose user data during a process called “bid request.” A data breach occurs because a bid request fails to protect sensitive data against unauthorized access, which is unlawful under the GDPR.

Per Brave’s announcement, bid request data can include the following personal data:

  • What you are reading or watching
  • Your location
  • Description of your device
  • Unique tracking IDs or a “cookie match,” which allows advertising technology companies to try to identify you the next time you are seen, so that a long-term profile can be built or consolidated with offline data about you
  • Your IP address,depending on the version of “real-time bidding” system
  • Data broker segment ID, if available, which could denote things like your income bracket, age and gender, habits, social media influence, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, political leaning, etc., depending on the version of bidding system

Obviously, GDPR isn’t the only regulation that organizations need to comply with. From HIPAA in healthcare to FINRA, PII and BCBS in financial services to the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) taking effect January 1, 2020, regulatory compliance is part of running – and staying in business.

The common denominator in compliance across all industry sectors is the ability to protect sensitive data. But if organizations are struggling to understand what data they have and where it’s located, how do they protect it? Where do they begin?

Protect sensitive data

Discover and Protect Sensitive Data

Data is a critical asset used to operate, manage and grow a business. While sometimes at rest in databases, data lakes and data warehouses; a large percentage is federated and integrated across the enterprise, introducing governance, manageability and risk issues that must be managed.

Knowing where sensitive data is located and properly governing it with policy rules, impact analysis and lineage views is critical for risk management, data audits and regulatory compliance.

However, when key data isn’t discovered, harvested, cataloged, defined and standardized as part of integration processes, audits may be flawed and therefore putting your organization at risk.

Sensitive data – at rest or in motion – that exists in various forms across multiple systems must be automatically tagged, its lineage automatically documented, and its flows depicted so that it is easily found and its usage across workflows easily traced.

Thankfully, tools are available to help automate the scanning, detection and tagging of sensitive data by:

  • Monitoring and controlling sensitive data: Better visibility and control across the enterprise to identify data security threats and reduce associated risks
  • Enriching business data elements for sensitive data discovery: Comprehensive mechanism to define business data element for PII, PHI and PCI across database systems, cloud and Big Data stores to easily identify sensitive data based on a set of algorithms and data patterns
  • Providing metadata and value-based analysis: Discovery and classification of sensitive data based on metadata and data value patterns and algorithms. Organizations can define business data elements and rules to identify and locate sensitive data including PII, PHI, PCI and other sensitive information.


A Regulatory Rationale for Integrating Data Management and Data Governance

Data management and data governance, together, play a vital role in compliance. It’s easier to protect sensitive data when you know where it’s stored, what it is, and how it needs to be governed.

Truly understanding an organization’s data, including the data’s value and quality, requires a harmonized approach embedded in business processes and enterprise architecture. Such an integrated enterprise data governance experience helps organizations understand what data they have, where it is, where it came from, its value, its quality and how it’s used and accessed by people and applications.

But how is all this possible? Again, it comes back to the right technology for IT and business collaboration that will enable you to:

  • Discover data: Identify and interrogate metadata from various data management silos
  • Harvest data: Automate the collection of metadata from various data management silos and consolidate it into a single source
  • Structure data: Connect physical metadata to specific business terms and definitions and reusable design standards
  • Analyze data: Understand how data relates to the business and what attributes it has
  • Map data flows: Identify where to integrate data and track how it moves and transforms
  • Govern data: Develop a governance model to manage standards and policies and set best practices
  • Socialize data: Enable all stakeholders to see data in one place in their own context

Join us September 25 for a webinar about the connections between data management and data governance and how to make them work in sync to discover, understand, govern and socialize your organization’s data for the most value and least risk.

Data Management and Data Governance: Play Together Stay Together

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