Strategies Security Leaders Need, to Mitigate the Impact of Data Sprawl

Strategies-Security-Leaders-Need_-to-Mitigate-the-Impact-of-Data (1)
Strategies-Security-Leaders-Need_-to-Mitigate-the-Impact-of-Data (1)

As remote/hybrid work becomes the norm in organizations, so does data sprawl. Threat actors are exploiting the increasing blind spots as hybrid work-enabling services, apps, and technologies infiltrate enterprise networks.

Security teams must be aware of where their data is and who can access it to properly safeguard it. Visibility can be extremely difficult if sensitive documents, analytics, and archives are dispersed across several cloud computing services.

Employees often create, upload, distribute, or save data in hundreds of various external apps as part of their regular work. There are numerous webmail apps, collaboration apps, and cloud storage apps in use, and many of these apps have similar functions. This presents a great opportunity for threat actors and a massive challenge for security teams.

Also Read: Pitfalls of Zero-Trust Security Architecture

Recent Security Breaches Capitalizing Growing App Usage

As app use in the workplace becomes a norm, threat actors are gaining access to confidential and sensitive data through these apps that are not secure. These malicious actors can quickly infiltrate cloud apps or impersonate them, making it challenging for security teams to distinguish between legitimate cloud tools and dangerous malware.

Better security policies, including data visibility and monitoring, are prioritized by organizations as a result of incidents like these.

A proactive approach can be more successful in protecting sensitive data amid such massive data sprawl than a reactive one in the wake of incidents like these. 

Controlling Data sprawl 

To understand what is effective in preventing data sprawl in the workplace, security teams can look at particular industries. One industry that limits the use of apps in the workplace is the finance sector, for example, due to its stricter security regulations and controls.

Given the remote nature of the industry and laxer industry laws, other sectors are having a harder time containing data sprawl. Employees in the retail industry, for instance, frequently use a variety of cloud apps at work. IT security teams must take proactive steps to reduce the risk of data sprawl across all industries.

Strategies for Reducing Data Sprawl

Security teams can confidently embrace hybrid work environments and cloud services without worrying about data sprawl if the proper security methods and policies are in place. Each company’s version of this will be unique, depending on its size, objectives, and security maturity levels. Here are a few security best practices:

Utilize single sign-on (SSO) – This provides centralized user management and ensures that when employees leave the company, they have a single location where they can revoke access to all cloud services that include critical company data.

Limit the flow of sensitive data to unmanaged apps and app instances by configuring controls – Companies must implement instance-aware and app-aware security controls to stop users from storing sensitive data in unauthorized locations.

Security measures, for instance, should be able to distinguish between the company’s account and the user’s personal account, preventing users from uploading sensitive information. The policies should be set up according to a user’s location, device, or risk.

Monitor User Behavior for Anomalous Activity – Security teams can utilize behavior analytics to identify risky user behavior, such as abrupt increases in downloads and uploads from app instances or managed applications. This can help spot areas that would benefit from more stringent regulations or users that might need additional training.

Train the Workforce – After implementing the right policies and controls, the next stage is to effectively communicate these policies to the workforce. Security teams should work closely with HR to integrate security training into annual and on boarding training for employees.

To ensure that departing employees do not upload company information to personal apps before leaving the organization. This poses a serious risk to businesses, particularly at a time when resignations are on the rise.

With the move to hybrid work, it is getting increasingly challenging to protect data, especially with the increasing use of cloud apps. To stay ahead of the challenge posed by unruly app use and the massive data sprawl that results from it, businesses moving to the cloud must implement strict security policies and the necessary security infrastructure. Only if organizations, and particularly their security teams, adopt a proactive stance toward limiting data sprawl will hybrid work be successful.

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