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Intro to Data Security

In today’s connected world where cybercriminals have greater opportunity than ever before, data security is crucial for every business. According to Accenture, security breaches have increased by 67% since 2014 (1). And the cost of these breaches is high. IBM has revealed that the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million in 2020 (2). This article offers an introduction to data security and covers eight solutions for securing data.

What Is Data Security?

Data security is the set of practices and procedures that protects digital information from unauthorized access, theft, or corruption. It includes ensuring all elements of security are covered, from protecting hardware and software applications to implementing access controls and data governance policies. Data security is also necessarily focused on ensuring data is available to the authorized people who need it, when they need it. 

Data breaches cause customers to lose trust in a business, and they can significantly damage a company’s reputation if news of the breach gets out to the media. Additionally, lawsuits, settlements, and fines related to data breaches are also increasing. Many governments have established strict regulations pertaining to data privacy, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (3) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (4). And if an organization’s intellectual property is compromised, its ability to compete may be permanently affected. For these reasons, data security should be a priority for every business in every industry, not just highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance. 

Common Data Security Risks

Organizations can be vulnerable to a data breach in a variety of ways. Here are four of the most common. 

Negligent exposure of data by employees

Many data breaches caused by employees aren’t a result of malicious intent. Without the proper tools and procedures in place, employees may accidentally expose data to unintended audiences as they access it or share it with colleagues. 

Insider threats

Disgruntled employees may intentionally seek to expose data, or they may wish to profit from data theft. Another common problem is user credentials being discovered by external attackers who pose as the user to access, steal, or corrupt data.

Social engineering attacks

Social engineering attacks are some of the most common ways that data is compromised. With these attacks, cybercriminals trick users into providing identifying information or access to privileged accounts. Phishing is an example of a common social engineering attack.


Ransomware is also gaining traction, and we increasingly see news stories of organizations being hit with this form of malware. Ransomware infects various company devices and encrypts the data it finds, making it unusable without a decryption key. Cybercriminals then demand a ransom payment for the release of the key. Ransomware is pernicious, spreading quickly to cover large portions of a network. And sometimes, even when the ransom demand is paid, the data is lost.

8 Data Security Solutions

Fortunately, today’s businesses have several tools available to secure data and prevent breaches, from technology solutions to policies and procedures. While these tools are numerous, the following are some of the most effective.

1. Data discovery

To protect your data, you must know what types of data you have, where your data is stored, who needs access to what data, and what it’s being used for. Data governance tools such as Snowflake’s Information Schema, Object Tagging, and Access History provide visibility into what data exists, where it is, and who accessed it. 

2. Data masking

Data masking is the process of masking sensitive information without changing the underlying data, helping ensure that sensitive data is properly protected.. Snowflake’s Dynamic Data Masking and flexible policy framework protect data while eliminating the need to store and manage multiple versions of the same data..

3. Data encryption

Data encryption uses an algorithm to convert text characters into an unreadable format, essentially scrambling the data. Authorized users must employ a decryption key to read the data. 

4. Endpoint protection

Endpoint protection is a robust solution that combines antivirus tools with AI analysis of atypical behavior to identify attacks. Endpoint protection tools allow security teams to find breaches as they occur and lock down the affected endpoints.

5. Network and security authentication: SSO, MFA

Network security provides the first line of defense. Federated single sign-on (SSO) establishes trusted relationships between separate organizations and third parties, such as partners, allowing them to share identities and authenticate users across domains. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) only allows access to a website or application after the successful submission of two or more pieces of evidence to the authentication device.

6. Identity and access management (IAM): RBAC, ABAC

Identity access management is a framework of processes, policies, and technologies that together manage users’ digital identities. With IAM, organizations can effectively control user access to data. IAM includes the use of multifactor authentication and privileged access management technologies that limit an organization’s attack surface and the damage that can be done by an attack.  Examples include attribute-based access control (ABAC), which creates access rights for users through attribute combinations. Role-based access control (RBAC) creates access privileges that are assigned to roles, which are in turn assigned to users.

7. Data loss prevention (DLP)

Data loss prevention is a collection of techniques that allow organizations to recover data that’s been stolen, corrupted, or lost via a natural disaster. DLP includes backup measures such as physical redundancy, but it’s a broad term encompassing other security tools that spot abnormal usage.

7. Data security audits

Security audits help you identify vulnerabilities so you can address them. Because data environments are constantly growing and changing, you should perform a security audit every few months.

8. Governance

Data governance is the set of policies and procedures that governs how data is made available, used, and secured. It also addresses data quality. Governance establishes processes that are enforced across organizations to ensure compliance and data security while also enabling users to access the data they need to do their jobs.

Snowflake Sets the Standard for Data Security

Snowflake was built to deliver end-to-end data security for all users. It follows world-class, standards-based practices for the controls and processes that secure it and is based on a multilayered security architecture to protect customer data and access to that data. This security architecture is complemented by the monitoring, alerts, controls, and processes that are part of Snowflake’s comprehensive security framework.

The Snowflake Data Cloud sets the industry standard for platform security, so you don’t have to lose sleep over security risks. All aspects of Snowflake’s architecture, implementation, and operation are designed to protect customer data in transit and at rest against both current and evolving security threats. 

To learn more about Snowflake’s security features, read Cloud Data Platform Security: How Snowflake Sets the Standard.