National Practice Director
  • Security
What should we do with all this data? It’s a great question. For years, we’ve been collecting and storing data critical to our businesses. All kinds of information about our customers—and their preferences and buying patterns—helps us to understand the people we serve and to identify ways we can serve them better. Critical data about our products, our research findings and intellectual capital, and our operations separates us from our competition and keeps us competitive in the marketplace. And with the improvements in data analytics software products in the last few years, we’re able to gain more and more insight into our businesses and make better strategic decisions. Data is the life blood of nearly every business. But, what if something happened to that data or it fell into the wrong hands? Want to do analytics on your structured and unstructured data?  Good luck if that data is lost, stolen, corrupted or sabotaged.  

Tasty in the Middle

I’m frequently asked to speak about various aspects of data storage to customers, sales professionals, and industry groups. When I do I usually start with something very basic, but unfortunately, often forgotten in the midst of conflicting data center priorities. That is, your data is critically important. Lose your data, and you have lost a big part of your company. Lose access to your data, and you likely start to lose money.
A couple of years ago, I listened to a presentation that made a huge impression on me. I can’t remember the presenter’s name, but he likened data centers to a big Oreo cookie—hard on the outside, but soft and gooey in the middle. I wish I could remember his name so I could give him due credit, because it’s a great analogy to use even today.

Our industry has done a great job hardening the data center with layer after layer of solid chocolate layers. We have password algorithms, firewalls, malware detection, intrusion detection, intrusion protection, VPNs, PKI, hard tokens, and SSL to help protect against would-be assailants. But for the most part, we have left the soft, squishy data in the middle exposed and vulnerable, susceptible to being licked right out by anyone who can penetrate our outer defenses. As we have seen all too frequently, the intruders—even if only by a small window—can get ahead of the defenders. And when they do, the result can be massive breaches, loss of data, identity theft…and worse, potential national security issues.

Your security measures should include more than just perimeter defenses—it should include encrypting your data as well. Implementing encrypted drives, along with their associated key management systems, can significantly reduce your risk of captured or lost data and better protect the life blood of your business from thieves and rogue employees. Contact your storage vendors to find out more. And, make sure you keep your failed disks. Nearly all storage OEMs have an option for you to keep failed disks, which is not overly costly and helps keep your data from falling into the wrong hands.
 
Next Steps

So, harden that squishy stuff in the middle and the environment around it. As you put a plan together to do so, make sure to address the following considerations:

  • Does your data need to be encrypted in flight or at rest? There are pros and cons to each.
  • Which data sets should be encrypted? Likely, not all your data is as equally critical or sensitive.
  • Review the network and virtual hosts around your data and make sure they are properly protected.
  • Are you using “software-defined” technologies in your data center today and if not, do you plan to in the future?
If you need some help, consider contacting a storage expert from ePlus. We can help you identify the vulnerabilities in your data center and build a plan to address them. But above all, start the process of protecting your data. Your business or organization may depend on it.

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