Never has the security of your information been more critical or apparent. Your business needs accurate information to thrive and grow.
Technology has evolved to help capture and manage data including the introduction of large databases, analytical tools to monitor Big Data and cloud-based applications. With customers becoming increasingly aware of how their personal data is being stored and used, legislation, such as GDPR, has been updated to help ensure it is captured and used appropriately.
When thinking about data security, most businesses will have firewalls and various systems in place to protect information from external attacks. Others may have systems that obfuscate data, such as credit card numbers, as those details are entered on screen by users to prevent unauthorised access. If your application is cloud-based, then the external provider will also offer a range of protection measures to safe-guard your information.
Are these levels of security adequate?
Software applications that only obfuscate data as it is displayed on screen often store the data in the database unencrypted and intact. This means that anyone with direct access to the database can access the information.
In addition, some cloud application providers have the right to access your data at any time as part of their Terms and Conditions.
Benefits of encrypting data
Encrypting the source data within the database will provide you with an additional layer of protection. By encrypting the data at source, only those users with access to the software application which consumes the data – which can be securely controlled using different authentication methods such as LDAP or Active Directory – can view the data in its unencrypted form.
Some cloud-based applications offer additional modules to encrypt all the data within the application.
Flexible encryption permissions and rules that can be managed by your team provide your business with greater control over data security whilst ensuring your users have access to the information they need to do their job. These rules could be based on the type of record being viewed, the user’s role within a study or account, or simply the status of the record, for example.
Advanced encryption capability will also provide the ability to choose the data fields, that should be encrypted, such as a Date of Birth, Reference Number and Surname. Thereby allowing your users to see other data collected about individuals that they need for their job, whilst protecting confidential information.
In addition, data may need to be decrypted/encrypted if accessed, for example, through APIs, reporting tools and queries to comply with your security requirements.
When implementing data security protocols consider encryption and discuss this with your application suppliers to evaluate the options available within their software.