Is cloud the solution to optimized data privacy?

In this interview with Help Net Security, Sophie Stalla-Bourdillon, Senior Privacy Counsel and Legal Engineer at Immuta, talks about data privacy, what organizations can a must do to keep data secure, and explains the technologies that can help optimize data protection processes.

privacy data

The pandemic has greatly influenced every aspect of our lives, but how has it reflected on data privacy?

Cloud computing is now a must-have for businesses today and is critical as the pandemic continues. Data-driven organizations around the world are looking for solutions to speed time to data, safely share more data with more users, and mitigate the risk of data leaks and breaches. Characterized by remote workforces due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud computing will continue to be essential for organizations looking for business continuity, increased scalability, and cost-efficiency.

According to the Immuta State of Data Engineering Survey, organizations are increasingly adopting multiple cloud technologies to keep up with the scale, speed, and use cases required by modern data teams. 65% of respondents characterized their company as either 100% cloud-based or primarily cloud-based, indicating a large market need for automated cloud data access control.

Additionally, 81% of organizations expect to be fully or primarily cloud-based within the next 24 months, an increase from 71% in last year’s survey and a sign that cloud adoption is rapidly accelerating.

What processes or solutions have organizations used and should use to protect data?

A legacy solution, role-based access control (RBAC) is holding enterprises back and is preventing them from scaling their compliance efforts and ensuring a high level of accountability. The downstream costs of using RBAC could equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time and opportunity — a gap that will widen as users, data sets, data platforms, or any number of variables increase.

The key to achieving cloud-scale is moving to dynamic attribute-based access control (ABAC), which both prevents rule explosion and accelerates monitoring and auditing through rich audit trails. For 2022, data teams should invest in solutions that offer dynamic ABAC to harness the full value of their data with minimal overhead and still be in a position to demonstrate compliance with key requirements such as purpose limitation, data minimization and confidentiality.

Do you think the various data rules and regulations have had a positive impact?

Yes. Compliance regulations in the data security space are constantly changing and evolving, with more new acronyms for regulatory standards being introduced every year. Compliance laws are more than just a hoop that organizations must jump through to avoid fines. They’re designed to protect individuals acting as consumers, employees, patients, students, and businesses themselves. These regulations are built around best practices that help prevent improper use and keep data secure from breaches and leaks, destruction, alteration, bias and more.

While data rules and regulations should be welcomed and have had a positive impact, there are limitations. One trap that many businesses fall into is believing that just because they have generated some compliance paperwork, the job is done. However, it’s much more complex and daunting than that – compliance regulations are often “high-level” and challenging to operationalize.

Every organization is different and compliance laws are dynamic and vary by geography and can’t account for the intricacies of each one. Therefore, fine-grained access control is a must-have to be able to incentivize legitimate data usage and detect unauthorized access and misuse. Also, keep in mind that while rules and regulations matter, don’t get tied up in compliance paperwork that you neglect the importance of a robust and secure platform architecture.

What are the benefits of cloud data security?

Cloud data storage is relatively secure. While the name suggests an uncontrollable place in the sky that’s exposed and out of reach, cloud data can be processed in a secure and privacy-preserving way, just like data stored on your local device. Accessibility, once appropriately balanced with data localization requirements, is one of the top benefits of switching to the cloud because it can be accessed simultaneously by many, both on and off-site.

In addition to easier accessibility and maintenance, cloud data storage offers the potential to make files even more secure than when they’re stored on site because some of the security measures tested and adopted by trustworthy cloud data platform providers are likely much more robust and powerful than average internal controls enforced on site.

Is data security technology becoming obsolete?

Quite the opposite. With data teams increasingly relying on data, and data architectures becoming more complex, it’s no wonder that data quality and validation topped the list of challenges for respondents in Immuta’s Data Engineering Survey.

In 2020 alone, the average amount of data created each day was 2.5 quintillion bytes. That number is projected to grow to 463 exabytes by the end of 2025 – an increase of more than 18,000% in daily data (to put things into perspective, there are 1 quintillion bytes in an exabyte). It’s almost unfathomable to grasp, yet data teams are expected to keep up with an ever-growing number of data sources.

To save time, headache and potentially risky workarounds, teams must be equipped with modern data access control, data discovery, and data auditing capabilities to accelerate speed to insights, enable greater scalability, and ensure the right data gets into the right hands at the right time for the right project–all while keeping data safe.

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