Cybersecurity Spring Cleaning: 7 Steps for Critical Data Scanning

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Have you ever lost something in your house despite spending hours looking “everywhere” for it? Or stumbled upon a cache of items you forgot you had?

This probably motivated you to do some major cleaning; sorting, organizing and disposing of items to know where the important items are located and easily get to them when needed. Maybe you even realized you needed to lock valuable items up to secure them.

To protect and easily find valuable assets in a house requires regular clean up. Similarly, every organization has information assets – important, sensitive, and critical data – that need to be protected and easily located. And, just like at home, protecting and locating these assets (data) requires knowing where it is.

It’s important to conduct regular cybersecurity hygiene exercises in order to follow best practices such as inventorying and security data. 

Types of Critical Data

The type of critical data that many organizations own includes personally identifiable information (PII), payment card information (PCI), medical records, personnel/payroll data, social security numbers, corporate intellectual property and more.

If your organization is like most, you know where critical data should be located. But in the complex world of multi-user IT environments and free-flowing data, critical information can migrate to and settle in unexpected places.

Over time, you can lose track of the location of critical data. Moreover, shadow IT is rampant, and data breaches as well as the loss of critical information through carelessness or ignorance is at an all-time high.

Identifying Sensitive Data

Most concerning is when sensitive data finds its way into unsecured files on desktops, laptops, other mobile devices, and other locations where data is at rest.

Fortunately, there is a way to quickly, efficiently, and discreetly identify sensitive data and how it flows throughout your organization. A sensitive data discovery scan can identify all critical data on your organization’s network. Based on the results of the scans, your organization can determine if the proper security measures are in place to protect that information, or if it should be removed altogether.

There are multiple critical data scanning tools available. While most scanning software will provide visibility about the location of data within your organization, it is important for your cyber security team to determine the security steps your organization needs to take to protect sensitive data.

Using a Sensitive Data Scanning Service

Another option is to partner with a cybersecurity service provider. A strong sensitive data scanning service will not only provide visibility into where your organization’s sensitive data flows and rests, it will include a thorough process. This process should contain the following steps:

  • Determine the types of sensitive data needs protected through discovery interviews.
  • Build out a scan strategy based on information gathered from interviews.
  • Configure and execute the scan.
  • Collect and analyze the scan results.
  • Construct results report, including location of sensitive data and files.
  • Review results in-depth with stakeholders and discuss about risk tolerance.
  • Recommend consolidation and securing of sensitive data.

Regardless of what option you choose, the important thing is to get it done, do it well and do it regularly (at least annually).

Spring is a good time for house cleaning. And adding critical data scans to your cybersecurity spring cleaning checklist is a good step toward getting your organization’s house in order.

If you’d like to discuss sensitive data scanning to support your cybersecurity Spring cleaning initiative, reach out for a conversation

Bowe Hoy, Vice President of Sales

Bowe Hoy, Vice President of Sales

Bowe Hoy has extensive experience helping organizations solve complex cybersecurity and compliance challenges with strategic services and solutions.

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