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5 Ways Engineers can Minimize Data Security & Analytics Risks

By Camila Martinez-Granata

As brands acclimate to our increasingly data-driven business landscape, data has emerged as both a company's most valuable–and vulnerable–asset. A recent report by The Identity Theft Resource Center found there were 1,862 data breaches in 2021–a staggering 68% increase from 2020–with each of these breaches costing companies an average of $4.24 million. The financial bloodletting doesn’t end when the breach is resolved; more stringent data privacy laws such as the EU’s GDPR mean these breaches could also result in record-breaking fines.

 

Now more than ever, data security, privacy, and compliance are paramount. Although data is produced and utilized throughout all facets of an organization, no single position manages data as intimately as engineers. Whether company data is in transit, at rest, or being analyzed by third-party tools, engineers must be empowered and well-equipped to protect their data.

 

Read on to learn more about potential data security risks, and what engineers can do to minimize them.

Data security risks and hazards to be wary of

Most data security risks fall within three broad categories:

 

1. Malware: Malware is a catch-all term that covers a wide array of malicious software such as adware, viruses, or worms. Although different forms of malware vary in method, they all share a common, insidious goal: to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system. By far the most dangerous form of malware is ransomware, or software that digitally encrypts your devices until a ransom is paid, usually in bitcoin. A recent IBM study found ransomware attacks were the most common form of malware–21% of all reported attacks–with each attack costing US companies an average of $2.09 million in remediation costs.

 

2. Malicious insiders: It isn’t enough for companies to simply rely on employees to implement safe data privacy practices to mitigate security risks. Malicious insiders, or turncloaks, are bad actors within an organization who either steal or delete vulnerable data, usually by exploiting security weaknesses or procedures. Although malicious insiders are far less common than ransomware–just 5% of reported attacks last year—these attacks can be far more expensive, costing companies on average $15.4 million a year.

 

3. Accidental data deletion: Just because an employee isn’t malicious doesn’t mean they can’t cost your company millions. Besides accidentally downloading malware or succumbing to phishing attempts, employees can accidentally delete data. According to Veeam’s 2021 Cloud Protection trends report, 58% of businesses utilizing cloud backups do so solely to prevent accidental data deletion. Perhaps the most infamous example of this was in 1998 when a careless command input deleted the Toy Story 2 Pixar servers. Fortunately, the supervising technical director had a copy at home, saving not only the film but the future of the burgeoning animation studio.

Sharing is caring–mostly

Fortunately, brands aren’t alone when ensuring their data is protected from risks and hazards. Third-party cloud computing platforms such as Microsoft 365, AWS, or Google Workspaces are required by the shared responsibility framework to provide data protection from common occurrences, including:

 

  • Service interruptions due to hardware or software failure.
  • Loss of service due to natural disaster or power outage.

 

However, this doesn’t mean brands are completely off the hook. Shard responsibility is a two-way street, and brands are still responsible for protecting their data against all other threats.

What can engineers do to ensure data security? 

With so many responsibilities already heaped on engineers, data security for their company and customers is clearly a priority–but covering all their bases may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are actionable steps engineers can take to elevate their security with ease.

 

1. Implement a clean, technical framework that scales with changing regulations: Chances are, your company already has implemented a basic data privacy framework.  Perhaps you are currently engaged in the laborious process of updating an existing one. Regardless of whatever new data regulations are rolled out, your core technical framework should not only allow for easily applicable privacy controls and flexibility but should operate from the basis of knowing exactly what data you are in possession of and where it is located.

 

2. Conduct frequent technical and tool audits: When taking preventative measures for malware attacks, service interruptions, or power outages, consider the old needlework proverb: measure seven times, cut once. Poor system performance or failure in services–especially third-party tools–that govern data usage, access, or deletion can quickly escalate to costly compliance violations. In addition to ensuring your privacy framework is battle-ready, frequent audits will inform your effective failover and incident response protocols.

 

3. Standardize your schema across your company: Disparate version control tools within your engineering team could lead to code clashes or inconsistencies when delivering data rights to customers. Ensure your organization is using the same schema company-wide to prevent unnecessary data privacy risks. Should your framework fail an audit, a standardized schema will also make it easier to glean a more accurate problem diagnosis.

 

4. Backup your data: In case your data falls prey to ransomware, accidental deletion, or a careless latte spill, frequent data backup is the simplest way to ensure your data and systems can be restored. A majority of companies utilize third-party tools, from analytics to CRMs. While they provide a number of benefits, they also increase your data’s vulnerability. In 2020 alone, IBM reported 51% of companies experienced a data breach caused by a third-party vendor.

 

5. Invest in continuous intelligence: If staying current with ever-changing data compliance regulations–let alone increasingly sophisticated malware attacks–is proving to be a drain on your team, consider investing in continuous intelligence software. Real-time continuous intelligence not only provides transparent processes for regulatory assurance but empowers you to react proactively to weaknesses in existing frameworks. Continuous intelligence platforms, like Scuba Analytics, can be a game-changer when it comes to optimizing data security and engineering teams' bandwidth. 

Get privacy-first data analytics with Scuba

With robust security and strict compliance certifications, Scuba's continuous intelligence platform provides engineering teams with essential privacy-first solutions–in one platform.

 

  • Reduce reliance on platform sales engineers: Scuba is a managed service provider, eliminating the need for costly third-party engineers during initial data ingestion, ETL, and data infrastructure.

 

  • Scale solutions to the volume and range of your business needs: Scuba gives you access to 100% of your data with no limit to size or scale. Engineers can explore, investigate, and monitor millions of data points, from security to optimization.

 

  • Increased speed and accessibility of data: Scuba’s real-time analytics allows you to analyze new behavioral patterns–no ETL, pre-aggregated data, or technical expertise required. This gives engineers the power to track security issues or trends as they happen, without the tedious manual legwork.

 

  • Integrate third-party or event data: Scuba integrates disparate third-party and event data, making it easier for engineers to intensify security flaws from integration flaws.

 

  • Reduce the need for custom ETL workflows: Scuba saves engineers the headache of managing data by automating the process. Instead, engineers have more freedom and agency to monitor data and drill down on security.

 

Want to learn more about how Scuba can help engineers minimize data security risks? Request a demo today or talk to a Scuba expert.

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