Data Protection Strategy: 10 Components of an Effective Strategy

What Is a Data Protection Strategy?

A data protection strategy is an organized effort that includes all the measures implemented for the purpose of protecting data in the organization. A data protection strategy can help organizations standardize the security of sensitive data and corporate information, ensuring the privacy of customers and employees and the security of trade secrets.

Data protection strategies typically involve multi-step processes that define how security measures are implemented and maintained. The goal is to minimize the footprint of sensitive data and secure business-critical and regulated data. In particular, organizations use data protection strategies to prevent threat actors from gaining unauthorized access to data.

In this article:

  1. Data Lifecycle Management
  2. Data Risk Management
  3. Data Backup and Recovery
  4. Data Access Management Controls
  5. Data Storage Management
  6. Data Breach Prevention
  7. Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability
  8. Data Protection Policies and Procedures
  9. Standards and Regulatory Compliance
  10. Monitoring and Reviewing

Why Is Having a Data Protection Strategy Important?

To develop customer trust in their handling of sensitive data, organizations need to demonstrate transparency, integrity, and security in all stages of processing and collecting personal data. A strategic commitment to protecting customer privacy is critical to building trust. This is why data protection should be implemented as a core part of a business strategy.

However, data protection can be a difficult challenge for the majority of businesses today, even large enterprises are struggling. Data breaches have dramatically increased in number and size in recent years, having a massive impact on the reputation and finances of affected companies.

Recent studies show that the average cost of a breach is close to $4 million, and has been rising consistently for several years. According to Risk Based Security, in the first half of 2021 alone there were 1,767 reported breaches worldwide, which resulted in exposure of 18.8 billion records.

As cyber crime becomes increasingly sophisticated, regulatory entities create more stringent data protection laws that affect companies and individuals worldwide. Many of these regulations require companies to establish clear rules and measures for protecting private information. Complying with these data protection regulations requires significant changes to processes and a shift in corporate culture—changes that can be difficult to achieve without a solid strategy in place.

10 Components of a Successful Data Protection Strategy

A successful data protection strategy will typically include the following components.

1. Data Lifecycle Management

Data lifecycle management is a framework that standardizes data processes in the organization, from data creation, through storage, archiving, and until its final deletion. Data lifecycle management is a core component of a solid data protection strategy.

2. Data Risk Management

In order to properly protect data, the organization must first identify and assess all risks and threats that may affect the data. A data protection strategy needs to take these risks and threats into account and include measures designed to minimize and mitigate these risks.

3. Data Backup and Recovery

Backup and recovery measures are a critical component of data protection strategies. Once data is created, it should be backed up to ensure it can be recovered in case of failure.

A data protection strategy should define which types of data should be backed up, how data should be recovered when disaster occurs, and which storage mediums should be used. All of these measures should also be included in business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) initiatives.

Related content: Read our guide to continuous data protection

4. Data Access Management Controls

Access controls are a crucial aspect that should be properly implemented and maintained. These controls ensure that only authorized users gain access to company data and systems, and can prevent unauthorized access, use, or transfer of data. This aspect is often examined and assessed by external auditors.

5. Data Storage Management

Data storage management includes tasks related to securely moving production data into data stores, either on premises or in external cloud environments. These may be data stores intended for frequent, high performance access, or archival storage intended for infrequent access.

6. Data Breach Prevention

Data breach prevention measures are implemented for the purpose of preventing unauthorized access to data. The goal is to prevent external malicious actors or internal threats from gaining unauthorized access to data and systems.

Cyber security measures are put in place for the purpose of preventing attacks on internal networks, network perimeters, data-in-transit, and data-at-rest. Typically, these measures include data encryption, implementation of antivirus software, protection against ransomware, perimeter security hardware and software, and access management software.

Related content: Read our guide to data encryption

7. Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability

Confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA), also known as the CIA triad, are key components that must be maintained in order to ensure the protection of data. A data protection strategy should define CIA standards and measures to maintain them.

8. Data Protection Policies and Procedures

Policies define what data protection activities the organization uses and procedures define how these activities are implemented. Policies and procedures are both essential components of a data management program, and must be well-documented, because they are usually examined during an audit process.

9. Standards and Regulatory Compliance

Industry standards help organizations maintain adequate and current data protection. Regulatory compliance agencies define measures designed to protect data, which organizations are obliged by law to comply with. Each regulation is relevant to certain businesses, industries, and locations.

Perhaps the most commonly known regulation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU), which protects the private data of individual EU citizens. However, there are many other regulations and industry standards that organizations are required to comply with. A data protection strategy must account for all relevant regulations and define how the organization maintains compliance.

Learn more in our detailed guides to:

10. Monitoring and Reviewing

Monitoring and reviewing processes help organizations gain visibility into data activities, risks and controls, helping improve protection and respond to threats and anomalies. Monitoring and reviews may also be necessary to meet compliance requirements.

Ongoing monitoring provides visibility into all aspects of the data lifecycle, including data creation, storage, transmission, archiving, and destruction. These activities offer essential evidence for internal and external auditors that examine controls set in place for data protection and management.

Data Protection Strategy Best Practices

Your data protection strategy should go further than simply complying with regulations like GDPR and CCPA. This strategy guides your business operations and helps secure your infrastructure and data, using the following practices.

Keep Key Stakeholders in the Loop

Make sure the key stakeholders understand your data protection strategy and approve of it. This will help ensure that employees comply with the strategy and apply data protection across the organization, not just relegating it to IT.

Keep Track of All Available Data

Make a data inventory that encompasses all information your organization stores or processes.  by your organization. You have to understand your data in order to protect it—take note of the type of data collected, its storage location, usage and sharing policies. This allows you to map your data systems and facilitate management.

Conduct a Risk Analysis

Some regulations require companies to proactively identify risks and take measures to mitigate them. Risk assessments are essential for making your organization accountable and allowing you to identify potential threats or deficiencies. Your business infrastructure is a complex web, with many pathways for transferring data—each pathway poses a potential risk, and you must protect the data even when being used by a third party.

Perform a risk analysis to identify individual risks across your network. This will help inform your data protection policies.

Data Protection with Cloudian HyperStore

Data protection requires powerful storage technology. Cloudian’s storage appliances are easy to deploy and use, let you store Petabyte-scale data and access it instantly. Cloudian supports high-speed backup and restore with parallel data transfer (18TB per hour writes with 16 nodes).

cloudian object storage appliance

Cloudian provides durability and availability for your data. HyperStore can backup and archive your data, providing you with highly available versions to restore in times of need.

In HyperStore, storage occurs behind the firewall, you can configure geo boundaries for data access, and define policies for data sync between user devices. HyperStore gives you the power of cloud-based file sharing in an on-premise device, and the control to protect your data in any cloud environment.

Learn more about data protection with Cloudian