In today’s organizational landscape, businesses are completely dependent on data for ensuring smooth and streamlined business operations, which also translates to more revenue.
There are several aspects in a business cycle where data is involved, including data privacy and protection, data governance, data analysis, and management. However, as data usage becomes more advanced, so do the instances of data breaches and cyberattacks, which compromise business operations and can also be a major threat for companies. Therefore, a highly important aspect of data in businesses is data access, which encompasses several components.
In this article, we will discuss:
- What is Data Access?
- Types of Data Access
- What is Data Access Control?
- Purpose of Data Access Control
- Best Practices in Secure Data Access
This is part of our comprehensive Access Control guide.
What is Data Access?
Data access refers to the demand-based and authorized ability to reclaim, edit, copy, or transfer data within different IT systems. Through data access, a user is able to perform different functions and tasks without geolocation constraints and requirements of data being at rest or in motion.
Data is typically stored on storage solutions in a database, data repository, data warehouse, or data lake. Data access provides users with the way to get this data and its location, only after passing through certain authentication requirements. Moreover, this authentication is controlled by the organization that owns and possesses the data.
Data access is a key asset for effective data governance, and it is crucial for companies to have a properly planned and structured protocol for granting access to data to different users or employees in the organization. This protocol is strengthened by various layers of security and permission levels, and they are determined according to the roles and responsibilities in the organization.
Types of Data Access
When data is stored in a repository or data warehouse, there are two main methods of accessing it: random access and sequential access.
Random access is a method to retrieve data from any location in the storage drive, and it doesn’t perform sequential data reading to search for data that the user requires. This makes it a much faster method for data retrieval and access. The data is also located in constant time, which means that there is a fixed limit according to which the retrieval time will be decided. When the time limit is lower than the time required to sequentially read and retrieve data, you can make use of this method.
Sequential access makes use of a seek operation to transfer the data to a storage drive until the required piece of data can be found. This method reads data in sequential order until the required data is found, and this can cause a burden on the computational resources of the data store. Even so, sequential access is much faster as compared to random access because it gets the work done in fewer seek operations.
What is Data Access Control?
Now that you have a clear understanding of what data access is, it is time to understand what data access control is.
Data access control enables organizations to provide permissions to users, employees, and third-party users to access company data while ensuring that data security, privacy, and compliance are maintained.
These requirements are in line with the best practices and regulations that are enforced by regulations such as:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Moreover, the regulations mandate companies to conduct audits and quality controls for users that have access to sensitive information.
Purpose of Data Access Control
The main purpose of data access control is to determine that the company provides access to each user within the organization while maintaining compliance with its policies and regulations. Although these policies are made after several considerations and rules, they lie in the category of privacy, security, and compliance.
Through data access control, organizations are able to protect data by ensuring that only authorized individuals can use data from their repositories. Moreover, it prevents any unauthorized person from accessing sensitive data.
Best Practices in Secure Data Access
Although implementing data access control is the way to go in order to protect the sensitive data of your organization, it isn’t sufficient to keep your data from being compromised. Let’s have a look at some of the best practices that are involved in secure data access.
1. Encrypt Data at Rest and in Transit
Data encryption is one of the best ways to ensure better data access control, but it has to be done both when data is at rest or in transit. Data in transit is encrypted before it is transmitted, and the system endpoints are authenticated. The data is decrypted when access is granted and the user retrieves it. For encryption at rest, the data stored in the warehouse or repository is encrypted.
2. Use Proper Authentication
Another important thing to do is to maintain strong and proper authentication for your entire data, otherwise, your data access protocols won’t be able to protect your systems from data theft and breaches.
3. Set Network Access Control
Network access control is used to combine endpoint security, user authentication, and network security in order to keep unauthorized users and devices from penetrating or compromising a private network. As long as the network is protected, it would be easier for administrators to enforce stricter access control policies.
4. Have Clear Security Policies
The key to secure data access is to have clear and defined security policies that govern and protect the access and transmission of data. In this regard, you can also make do with the principle of least privilege, which dictates that if a user doesn’t require access to a certain data or function, then they shouldn’t be granted access to it.
This concludes our guide regarding data access and how you can enforce stronger and stricter access control measures. There are several advantages that organizations can experience by securing data access for organizations, and they can also adhere to compliance, security, and organizational requirements. It also keeps away data breaches and prevents companies from losing huge amounts of money.