Access to data is a mess. Data has never been more sensitive, and now there are more people than ever able to see it. Controlling access to personally identifiable information (PII) or other sensitive data is a nonstop challenge for risk, security, and compliance teams.

Between remote work, app updates, overprivileged access, insider threats, and even simple mistakes, organizations can expose data to the wrong users. From there, it’s often out of your hands what they do with it.

Understanding why controlling access to data is so difficult can help you take back that control. Here are three significant areas of complexity.

  1. The Selection of Access Control Models

There are different access control models, and every company has a game plan around who gets access to what. But as your company grows and collects more data, that playbook may shift — and you’ll often need to rely on outside help.  

CSO highlights four leading access control models organizations tend to use:

  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC): The data owner decides who can access it.
  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC): A central authority determines access rights; if people have information clearance, they can access the data.
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Building on key strategies such as the “principle of least privilege,” users receive access to data that’s relevant to the job they need to do. 
  • Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC): Taking RBAC to the next level, ABAC determines a series of attributes and characteristics for users and information. These attributes consider roles, responsibilities, and factors such as the user’s location and time of day.

This decision isn’t always an easy choice, nor is it a static one. You may still be determining the best path forward, but one thing is clear: as your organization evolves, the calculus for choosing the most appropriate model will shift along with it, so even though access control will always be an essential component of your company’s security architecture, you’ll need to regularly evaluate which model makes the most sense.

While companies are starting to understand the benefits of multi-factor authentication (MFA), data authorization is still an issue. If you’re handling PII and other sensitive data, you’ll need to perform recurring scans and checks to ensure you’re actually protecting that information. 

  1. Remote Work Means More Ways to Share Data

When everyone worked from one office, it was easier to understand where data was coming from and going to; your IT team was never too far from company computers, and employees tended to use company phones for business only. 

However, when the pandemic accelerated work-from-home capabilities, a floodgate of personal device usage opened up. However, when the pandemic accelerated work-from-home capabilities, a floodgate of personal device usage opened up. You might find your employees’ personal devices accessing anywhere between 80 and 250 SaaS and SaaS-like applications transferring information from and to all over the world. Pair this with a cultural shift toward fast data transfers and the notion of productivity above all else, and you can see why creating and maintaining effective controls is nearly impossible.

Despite some naysayers, this remote work trend isn’t going away. According to researchers from the career website Ladders, 25 percent of all North American jobs will be remote by the end of 2022. That’s one in four people (at least!) continuing to provide unique security challenges. 

Rather than resorting to stone tablets and stencils, it will take a smarter focus around security and ramping up your access control tools.

  1. Data Breaches Are Still Going to Happen

Even with a strong effort, data breaches are still going to happen. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts ransomware costs will reach $265 billion by 2031, with an attack every two seconds. 

When a breach occurs, the response time must be quick and thorough to adequately address the situation. You can’t always solve a breach within five minutes, and you might have to try a few different solutions. That often means granting additional permissions to specific people on the IT team or across the company. During the heat of the moment, giving more people access to solve issues makes sense, particularly when it involves customer data. 

Once things have cooled down, it’s important to move everyone back to their original access levels. Otherwise, there’s an increase in people with PII or other sensitive information — and the likelihood they’ll mishandle it. If you reacted emotionally and didn’t track who has access to what, it’s more challenging to control what data they can see and what they do with it.

A Better Form of Access Control

You’re not alone if you find yourself struggling with unfettered, unwarranted, and over-privileged access. Gartner predicts that by 2023, inadequate management of identities, access, and privileges will make up 75% of security incidents.

That’s a troubling trend — so what if you could control not only access to applications but also control access to the data within the applications themselves? 

At Nullafi, we’re dedicated to protecting sensitive data within any application. Your users only see the data they need to see. There aren’t any slow, complex deployments or application integrations and no unruly costs.

All you have to do is change one configuration file in your network. Then, you can control access to data across any number of users, endpoints, and applications, inside or outside of your organization. 

Take back control of your data access — get started today

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