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Data Security Compliance: Protecting Sensitive Data

Data security failures can trigger regulatory penalties, reputational damage and significant financial costs for an organization. Effective data security compliance requires a comprehensive approach encompassing robust policies, capable technologies and a culture of vigilance. By understanding the key elements of security compliance, businesses can fortify their defenses against cybercriminals and safeguard their most valuable assets: their data and their customers' trust. In this article, we’ll examine what data security compliance involves, and explore Snowflake’s data security and governance tools for securely protecting your data.

What Is Data Security Compliance?

Data security compliance is focused on the security angle of data management. When organizations work with sensitive data, they must protect the confidentiality and integrity of this information. Compliance often entails aligning data security practices with relevant government regulations, and industry or organizational standards. 

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Data security compliance vs. data compliance

The terms data security compliance and data compliance are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Data compliance is a broader term that encompasses an organization’s total efforts to remain compliant with legal, regulatory and organizational requirements for handling data. Data security compliance is a subset of data compliance dedicated to safeguarding the integrity, privacy and security of personal and other types of sensitive information.  

Key Elements of Data Security Compliance

An effective data security compliance program addresses both technical and organizational measures. It’s a unified approach, comprising multiple component parts that work in tandem to empower businesses to protect sensitive information and meet regulatory requirements effectively.

Security standards 

International standards like ISO/IEC 27001 provide a systematic approach to managing sensitive data, enabling organizations to manage the security of their data assets more effectively. Alignment with international standards such as this also provides a foundation for compliance with relevant data protection regulations such as the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

Some data security compliance standards are industry-specific, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which applies to companies that accept, process, store or transmit credit card information, and HIPAA, which applies to patient health information. 

Data access controls

Data access controls act as gatekeepers, allowing or restricting which users, processes or devices can access and use data based on predefined rules and permissions.

Access controls such as user authentication, role-based access control (RBAC) and privileged access management reduce the risk of unauthorized data exposure, misuse or tampering. They are vital to maintaining compliance with relevant regulatory compliance standards.

Data protection measures 

Data protection methods, such as encryption and data masking, support data security compliance, making data unreadable to anyone without a dencryption key. Protecting data in transit and at rest helps prevent unauthorized access, and reduces the risk of sensitive data being stolen or exposed.  

Security monitoring 

Security monitoring is the process of analyzing, detecting and responding to cybersecurity threats and incidents, including active threats to data security. Threat detection is one example. This practice is used to identify and respond to security threats and risks including malware, unauthorized access attempts and indicators of compromise (IOCs). Security monitoring solutions — such as intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), security orchestration and automated response (SOAR) solutions, and security information and event management (SIEM) systems — enable organizations to comply with breach notification requirements included in regulatory compliance standards.

Incident response

Incident response is the second half of an incident detection and response sequence. This  approach is used to orchestrate a coordinated response in the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, and includes incident analysis, threat containment and removal, and post-incident recovery.

Auditing and reporting

Conducting a periodic, systematic review  of an organization's security controls, processes and user activities is essential for gauging their effectiveness and identifying potential lapses in compliance. In addition, the documentation that results from auditing and logging security-related events, data access, user actions and system changes is useful for demonstrating compliance with regulatory compliance standards.

How Snowflake Supports Security Compliance

The Snowflake AI Data Cloud is purpose-built for data security, providing a suite of data security and governance features, including Snowflake Horizon, Snowflake’s built-in data governance solution. With Snowflake, organizations can confidently store, process and protect their most sensitive information.

Extensive data security controls

The AI Data Cloud offers a multitude of data security controls to Snowflake customers, including dynamic data masking and end-to-end encryption for data in flight and at rest. Snowflake Horizon provides the tools to secure your environment with continuous risk monitoring and protections, RBAC, and granular authorization policies.

Baked-in government and industry data security compliance

Snowflake has achieved numerous government and industry data security compliance credentials, validating the high level of security required by industries, as well as state and federal governments. Snowflake’s government deployments have achieved Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Authorization to Operate (ATO) at the Moderate level along, and support a range of compliance standards: International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2) Type II, PCI DSS and Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST).

Robust cloud infrastructure security controls

Built for the cloud, Snowflake leverages the most sophisticated cloud security technologies available. The result is a service that is secure and resilient, giving you the confidence to maximize your most demanding data workloads with Snowflake.

Universal governance 

Inconsistent governance policies across systems and users can introduce security risk to your data. Snowflake’s single governance model provides comprehensive compliance, security and privacy controls that are universally enforced. Snowflake Horizon unifies and extends data governance resources. With Snowflake Horizon, data teams, data governors and data stewards can leverage a built-in, unified set of compliance, security, privacy, interoperability and access capabilities in the AI Data Cloud. Snowflake Horizon provides the toolkit required to protect and audit data, apps and models with data quality monitoring and lineage. And advanced privacy policies and data clean rooms allow organizations to tap into the full value of their most sensitive data. 

Data Security Compliance with Snowflake

Snowflake helps organizations streamline security compliance, providing the tools and support required to meet regulatory compliance standards. With industry-leading data security and governance features, organizations can shift their focus from protecting their data to analyzing it.