Cables running into multiple servers found in a data center

Data Security Best Practices Say: Keep Data in the Data Center

23 Sep 2016 by Howard M Cohen

Your clients’ data security policies can jeopardize their ability to operate if they leave room for unprotected data. Most customers believe their data is safe as long as it stays within their own four walls. Put the data outside in cloud based servers — and instinctively it’s believed to be more vulnerable. Let the data travel out to an authorized user’s smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop at home, and that too is “less safe.”

Help customers with employee data security policies.

While everyone is assuring your customers they can secure their data “completely” with firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and others designed to prevent penetration, a look at Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report vividly shows that 77% of data security breaches in the last year came from employees, rather than from the outside. This is slightly down from the trend of 85 to 90%, which continued from 2010 to 2015.

This means all of the measures your competing service providers have been pushing on their customers only protect against 10 to 15% of all threats. What’s more, recent data reveals how little resources are being devoted to regular employee training against cyberthreats:

Bar graph that shows the different forms of protection people use to fight cybercrime.
Figure 1

As shown in Figure 1, less than 20% of businesses are using regular employee training as a means of cyberthreat protection. Yes, as the workforce becomes increasingly digital and remote, data security policies will have to expand as more information travels out in the wild — but starting with employee education will ensure a more robust security strategy.

Where is their data safe?

You perform a powerful service for your customer when you advise that the data is safest is in their data center. But even there they must constantly take precautions to assure the reliability and trustworthiness of the personnel working there.

It’s certainly not safe when someone in your company accesses your servers with their smartphone. They transfer your high-value critical business data onto their own little connected device. Next they can email it, instant message it, Facebook it, Skype it, or otherwise share it with people you never intended to have access. So much for all of those security investments.

And the Verizon data proves it’s not even safe on desktop computers and other devices located on premises. Nine times out of 10 it’s a user on one of those connected devices who is breaching data security policies.

How do you keep the data in the data center?

Let’s stop thinking for a moment about how the data moves around the network and think instead about how it gets from the network to your brain, and back again. Usually you either read it on a screen or listen to it from your computer or device in the form of audio, with or without video. To get data going back from you to the network, you can type on a keyboard or touchscreen, speak into a microphone, or upload imagery from your camera.

What if the screen being displayed from your computer was just a mirror image transmitted from your data center to you on your device? No data leaves the data center, just the appearance of it briefly on a duplicated screen. Your keyboard strokes, mouse clicks, or screen movements could be similarly transmitted back to the data center without any actual data going back and forth.

Not only would it prevent any data from leaving the data center, it would also be much faster because so little information was crossing the network.

It’s called Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

If you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s not new, that’s VDI. That’s been around forever!” You’re right.

VDI has been re-imagined beyond Virtual Desktop Interface to become Virtual Device Infrastructure, allowing screen contents to be properly formatted for whatever device form factor and display your user may have. Now, data centers can transmit just the screen appearance, keyboard clicks and gestures or mouse movements back and forth between the user’s mobile device and the company’s private, public or hybrid data center infrastructure.

New developer tools have enabled highly adaptive applications that sense the user’s device form factor and provide a highly efficient user interface for that specific device. The user experience is enhanced in terms of usability, efficiency, functionality and speed. The data never transfers to the device, just screen information and sound.

The actual data stays in the data center, and the world, for the chief security officer and organization, is once again safe and sound.

Much More Than “Just” Safer Data

VDI offers far more than “just” a safer environment in which the data never leaves the data center and is far less likely to be compromised. It also keeps the application in the data center, meaning it can be quickly and easily upgraded, maintained, repaired and managed once on the server, and all users will receive all of the enhancements instantly. Support becomes easier and less expensive. Reliability increases. Manageability improves.

Talk to your expert partners at Insight for help comparing and contrasting alternative VDI strategies for your customers today. And recommend something radically different that truly addresses the real source of your customers’ challenges.

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