data security

The Changing Landscape of Data Security: A Chat with Dell’s VP of Data Security Brett Hansen

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data security breaches in 2016 totaled 1,093, a 40% increase from the previous year. That being said, that statistic solely accounts for security breaches that were reported, so the numbers could be a lot worse than the initial estimate assumes. With security threats growing each year, what are business owners to do about it?

I recently sat down with Dell Technologies’ Vice President of Data Security, Brett Hansen, who told me that “there is no peace in the world of security.” Boy, is he right!

The Data Security Landscape Is Changing

Business data is always at risk. Sometimes the risk comes from external hackers with nefarious intentions and sometimes the risk comes from negligent employees. Regardless of the source, business owners need to educate themselves on the proper way to secure their data.

Back in the day, security was all about encrypting the hard disc. According to Hansen, however, “focusing on the endpoint (i.e. the disc) is focusing on the wrong thing. What do you care about protecting? The data, which is the files themselves.”

So, what has changed from, say, the ‘90s or ‘00s? Hansen says there’s a two-fold shift in the U.S. workplace:

  • There are the employees who want more mobility and flexibility in how they work, where they work, and which device they work from.
  • There are companies who want to work more efficiently, which often means partnering with and outsourcing work to third parties like contractors, suppliers, and other business partners.

In each of these scenarios, you now have data that is no longer at rest; in other words, sitting on a powered-off and encrypted machine, waiting to be used. Data is now in motion, being sent by email and file sharing apps, or being used completely outside the network. Hansen also reports that 20% of employees have lost a device containing company data, so the hardware itself presents some issues.

This is why it is no longer enough to encrypt the device.

According to Hansen, 72% of employees actively share company data to persons outside of their corporate environment. While they are just trying to get the job done, they are putting their company’s data—the fundamental piece that enables one to compete in the first place—at risk. This is when Hansen asked the question that every business owner should seriously think about in 2017:

“How do companies embrace the mobile workforce or embrace the modern workforce transformation, but do so while maintaining a security risk posture that allows them to keep their data safe?”

Want to know his answer? Check out the interview below:

Introducing Dell’s Data Guardian

It is a scary thing to think about all those insecurities potentially introduced to your data simply by enabling a mobile workforce or by entrusting your company’s data to a third party. However, this is how we have become more efficient and agile in business. The more we can collaborate, the more quickly we make progress toward our goals. In so doing, however, we have put our data at greater risk.

We now live and conduct business in a world that is changing and, with those changes, comes a need for a better way to secure data in motion. Brett Hansen introduced me to Dell’s answer, and it is called Data Guardian.

What Data Guardian aims to achieve is simple, explains Hansen:

“We want to change the dynamic from locking data within an environment [i.e. the disc]. We want it to travel with protection and with visibility.”

This is why the Data Guardian solution focuses on giving IT management the visibility and control they need to keep data secure as it travels from person to person and device to device.

No longer are there worries about unfettered access. Data Guardian empowers managers to monitor what’s happening with their data and, if they are not comfortable with what they are seeing, they can:

  • Lock it down
  • Prevent cut/copy/paste
  • Prevent print access
  • Prevent sending privileges
  • Set expiration dates on data
  • Retract access to certain individuals altogether

“The dashboard is all about being able to set policy in a simplistic manner, but also be able to consume information and make intelligent decisions based on what that information is telling you,” Hansen explained. The goal then isn’t to give IT managers more work to do in protecting system vulnerabilities or preventing security breaches; it is to provide them with a tool that helps them gain more visibility into their data’s travel and take action when needed.

With the workplace transforming, now is the time for us all to find more intelligent ways to handle our data.