As cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated, organizations must prioritize data security to safeguard their valuable information and maintain a competitive edge. According to research conducted by Rubrik Zero Labs, 99% of security and IT leaders say they experienced a cyberattack in 2022. Clearly every company—large or small—is a potential target.

In addition, the financial and reputational damage caused by a successful attack is increasing. According to a recent study by IBM, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. To avoid paying this heavy price, business leaders must invest in advanced turnkey solutions and implement proper security protocols to protect their data from unauthorized access, corruption, and loss.

What is enterprise data protection?

Enterprise data protection refers to the process of delivering, managing, and monitoring security across all data repositories and objects within the influence of an organization. 

With the continuous advance of technology, businesses have unprecedented access to new capabilities that drive innovation and build a deeper connection with global customers. However this digital transformation has also introduced new challenges, with cybersecurity emerging as a critical concern for organizations across industries. As new technologies create new business opportunities, they also generate more data—sensitive data about the inner-workings of the enterprise and private data about customers, partners, and employees. 

As the entire enterprise becomes more reliant on this data for day-to-day operations, securing it has become more critical than ever. An enterprise data protection strategy addresses this need. 

Enterprise data protection encompasses several tools, policies, techniques, and frameworks to ensure the safety of data, regardless of where it is used or stored within the organization. It primarily implements and manages data security practices and standards in an organization, with standards and procedures varying depending on the use and sensitivity of data. 

A successful data protection strategy can help organizations standardize the security of sensitive data and corporate information ensuring that in the event of a cyberattack, customer data, employee records, and trade secrets can all remain readily available and easily recovered.

C-Suite leadership on enterprise data protection

C-level executives play a critical role in driving data protection initiatives within an organization. By prioritizing data security and allocating the necessary resources, leaders can demonstrate a company’s commitment to protecting enterprise information and fostering a data-conscious culture.

C-Suite leaders can actively promote this culture within an organization by setting clear expectations, providing ongoing training and education, and leading by example. By doing so, data security-minded leaders ensure employees at all levels understand the importance of data protection and are equipped to contribute to an organization's data security efforts.

Enterprise data protection will continue to evolve as new technologies and threats emerge. As new cyber threats emerge and data generation grows exponentially, the future of data protection lies in adaptive, intelligent, and robust systems. But executives who understand the importance of data protection, stay informed about current regulations, and implement a comprehensive data protection strategy can safeguard their business data and maintain a competitive edge. 

It's about more than tools and protocols; it requires leadership to create a culture where data security is intrinsic to every action.

Data protection laws and compliance

While culture and leadership play an important role in protecting critical enterprise data, it is not the only safeguard. Several major data protection regulations govern the handling of personal information–enforcing appropriate safeguards to protect sensitive information about a company’s customers, employees, and partners against unauthorized use or disclosure. And the C-suite is responsible for making sure their organization is in compliance with these regulations, which include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A regulation established in the European Union to protect the privacy of EU citizens by regulating how personal data is processed. 

  • Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023 (DPDP): A sweeping digital privacy law that attempts to clarify the rights Indian citizens have over their personal data. It also establishes the efforts local and international businesses must make to responsibly manage and protect their customers’ personal data.

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a state law that protects the privacy of California residents by entitling them to know how their personal information is being used and giving them the option to prevent companies from selling their data.

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This US federal law that requires organizations that handle  patients' personal information to have appropriate safeguards in place to protect against unauthorized use or disclosure.

While these laws govern data practices in a specific country or region, the  worldwide trend of data regulation cannot be overstated. Indeed, this regulatory patchwork reflects the increasingly interconnected nature of digital business; data flows across borders, and individuals' personal information can be accessed and processed by organizations located anywhere in the world.

Compliance with these data protection laws is not only a legal obligation but has also helped establish some international best practices for enterprise data protection. Organizations must ensure they have the necessary policies, procedures, and technical safeguards in place to protect sensitive data and comply with the applicable regulations. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties and reputational damage–both of which reflect poorly on the C-suite.

Elements of an effective enterprise data protection strategy

With cultural, compliance, and business best practices in mind, C-suite leaders should talk to technical staff about the following elements of their enterprise data protection strategy:

  • Data Availability: Critical enterprise data should remain securely available wherever it lives across the enterprise. Data must also be rapidly recoverable

  • Unified platform: Users should be able to manage the protection of the entire environment from a single, purpose-built interface and set SLAs for specific types of data

  • Data classification and discovery: You must be able to categorize your company's data resources and discover new data as it is generated, ensuring appropriate SLAs are applied

  • Access control, identity management, and encryption: Strong data controls should prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and highly confidential data should be protected using encryption

  • Automated backup capabilities: Set configurations for backup frequency, retention, replication, and archival to protect data from damage, loss, corruption, or unauthorized exposure

  • Emerging technologies: Incorporate new enterprise data protection-enhancing capabilities like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain

How to build and enterprise data protection plan

In order to develop an effective data protection plan, follow these steps in your organization:

  1. Assess your current data security status: Evaluate your organization's existing data security measures and identify areas for improvement. Understand where you stand and what tools you already have in place.

  2. Identify vulnerabilities and risks: Spot potential vulnerabilities and risks in your data security infrastructure. Recognize weak spots in your system to better allocate your IT security budget.

  3. Develop and implement a data protection policy: Create a comprehensive data protection policy that addresses identified vulnerabilities and risks. Your policy should outline data security protocols, employee responsibilities, and action plans in case of a data breach.

  4. Audit and update your data protection plan regularly: Continuously monitor and update your data protection plan to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with evolving regulations and industry standards. Cyber threats evolve; so should your plan. 

How do you execute this plan in the real world? University of the Pacific is a private university with three campuses in California, serving more than 6000 students every academic year. The university needed to replace a time-consuming and complex legacy data protection solution that was not engineered for the Cloud computing era. 

Leadership identified key capabilities that would modernize the company’s enterprise data protection efforts, including:

  • A solution that would allow to university to back up data to the Cloud  

  • The ability to retain data for up to 90 days  

  • The option to extend protection to Office 365 data

University of the Pacific found a new solution that helped increase operational efficiency and help staff gain 65 days of added productivity. IT also moved forward with a cloud-first IT strategy that delivered more than 90% management time savings. 

Enterprise data protection: next steps

Enterprise data protection is a real and complex problem for the modern enterprise. That’s why C-level leadership is required to address it in a substantial way. IT departments are often organized by discrete function; but a holistic enterprise data protection policy must integrate elements of the entire IT organization. Additionally, departments such as Legal, Sales, Human Resources, and Product Development may all have a role to play. So it takes executive vision to effectively deliver on the promise of enterprise data protection.

Fortunately, there are technology solutions to help business leaders embrace enterprise data protection as a practice. Rubrik Security Cloud features an air-gapped, immutable file system that can’t be modified, deleted, or encrypted by hackers and uses automation to apply common policies to all workloads, whether  on-premises or in the cloud. Rubrik also allows IT to search across your entire environment, down to the file level, and select the right point in time to recover–reducing recovery time from days and weeks to hours or less. 

With the right tools in place, the C-suite can bring new discipline to enterprise data protection practices, ensuring regulatory compliance while protecting the company’s sensitive data and business reputation.