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How to Protect Data in Motion?

Data in motion is exposed to many risks; as data travels, both inside and outside the company, it can easily fall into the wrong hands.

Data has grown into one of the most important assets organizations possess. Losing intellectual property (IP), a customer’s personally identifiable information (PII), or financial information can cause substantial damage to companies. Data that needs to be safeguarded exists in three states: at rest, in use and in motion.  While it is important to secure data in all its modes, data in motion is particularly vulnerable.

Data in motion also referred to as data in transit, is digital information transferred between locations either within or between computer systems. Data in motion can be data sent from desktop to cloud, portable devices, or other exit points. Once the data arrives at its final destination, it becomes data at rest.

Data in motion has to be safeguarded not only because a growing number of regulatory guidelines, like PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA or SOX require it in specific ways but also because unprotected sensitive data can cause damages on several levels to a company, including exposure to possible financial penalties and reputational risks.

Due to the digitalization of businesses and the increased mobility of workers, data travels more and more to enable collaboration. Employees are often using multiple devices to get their work done, and this means that information is being created and shared in diverse ways across a variety of locations. Sending sensitive information through workstream collaboration platforms like Slack or Mattermost can easily expose sensitive information or send it into the wrong hands, whether inside the organization or outside of it. The rise of shadow IT also leads to increased possibilities of sensitive data being leaked, as it can be easily transmitted to persons outside the company.

When in motion, data has to contend with a wide range of threats, including human error, network failures, insecure file sharing, malicious actions, and more. What organizations need to keep in mind is that the benefits of improved productivity, availability, and flexibility shouldn’t come at the cost of security and data protection.

In the following, this article takes a close look at how to protect data in motion to avoid data breaches.

Identify critical assets and vulnerabilities

Organizations should adopt a proactive security approach that includes classifying and categorizing data coupled with content, user, and context-aware security protocols to protect their sensitive data in every state effectively. Risk assessments should be conducted to discover the volume of sensitive data the company holds, the movement of sensitive data, liability costs, the number of users who have access to sensitive data, etc. Identifying industry standards like PCI DSS and compliance requirements like GDPR that apply to them is also essential.

Define security framework for data

Building a data security plan is another step organizations shouldn’t skip. This includes defining requirements that will help safeguard data in transit, address possible situations that could result in breaches, and raise awareness among employees and partners. All employees should be aware of the security risks that could expose the organization to fees and fines due to poor cybersecurity procedures.

Implement technologies and processes

Implementing processes and systems that ensure the safe transfer of sensitive data is vital to ensure data leaks and data theft. Encryption plays a large role in this step, and it should be integrated into common business workflows. Encryption requirements should be based on the latest standards by only allowing secure protocols. Email security is also essential since it is a widely used channel for business communication. The best way to ensure that messages and attachments remain confidential is to transmit them through an encryption platform that integrates with existing systems and workflows. To safeguard data in transit against malware attacks or intrusions, network security solutions like firewalls should be implemented. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions usually address the threats data in motion faces from breaches and human error during its transit.

How Endpoint Protector safeguards data in motion?

Endpoint Protector is a cross-platform Data Loss prevention solution that helps companies fight against data leaks and data theft. It scans network traffic for sensitive information and doesn’t let critical information leave the organization’s environment. What this essentially means is that employees can be blocked from transferring certain types of files that contain sensitive information based on specific file types, predefined content, file name, Regular Expressions, or compliance profiles for regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and others.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of data in motion?
Data being sent over an email or through workstream collaboration platforms like Slack, being transferred to a USB device or to a cloud storage are examples of data in motion. When it arrives, it becomes data at rest. Data in motion is also known as data in transit or data in flight.

Check out how our Content Aware Protection module helps to safeguard data in motion

What are some threats to data in motion?
Data in motion is data at greatest risk and with the highest probability for loss. Due to digitalization, a growing volume of sensitive data is transmitted digitally every day. Moving from one location to another, data in transit is vulnerable and makes it a sweet spot for attackers, as administrators no longer have control of it once it leaves the internal network. The biggest risk for data in motion is sending confidential data - maliciously or inadvertently - to someone who has no legitimate access to it or sharing it publicly.

Read more about data protection in the age of digital transformation

What are the 3 states of digital data?
There are three basic states of digital data: data at rest, data in use and data in motion. Data at rest is inactive data stored on a desktop, laptop, server, or in cloud storage. Data in motion, also referred to as data in transit, is digital information that is being transferred between locations either within or between computer systems. Data in use is data that is being processed by one or more applications and is frequently updated by multiple users within a network.

Learn more about how to keep your data secure

How does a DLP solution protect data in motion?
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions offer the possibility of blocking the transfer of sensitive information over vulnerable channels such as file-sharing services, messaging applications, or email addresses outside the company network. These solutions usually provide content inspection and contextual scanning of data to minimize the chance of data loss. Some DLP tools also offer device control options that limit or block the transfer of sensitive data through removable devices such as USBs, smartphones, external drives, memory cards, and more.

Learn more about how our advanced DLP solution helps to protect your sensitive data

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