Data security is the means of ensuring that data is kept safe from corruption and that access to it is suitably controlled. Thus data security helps to ensure privacy. It also helps in protecting personal data.
Data Security Technologies
Disk encryption refers to encryption technology that encrypts data on a hard disk drive. Disk encryption typically takes form in either software (see disk encryption software] or hardware (see disk encryption hardware). Disk encryption is often referred to as on-the-fly encryption (“OTFE”) or transparent encryption.
Hardware based Mechanisms for Protecting Data
Software based security solutions encrypt the data to prevent data from being stolen. However, a malicious program or a hacker may corrupt the data in order to make it unrecoverable or unusable. Similarly, encrypted operating systems can be corrupted by a malicious program or a hacker, making the system unusable. Hardware-based security solutions can prevent read and write access to data and hence offers very strong protection against tampering and unauthorized access.
Hardware based or assisted computer security offers an alternative to software-only computer security. Security tokens such as those using PKCS#11 may be more secure due to the physical access required in order to be compromised. Access is enabled only when the token is connected and correct PIN is entered (see two factor authentication). However, dongles can be used by anyone who can gain physical access to it. Newer technologies in hardware based security solves this problem offering fool proof security for data.
Working of Hardware based security: A hardware device allows a user to login, logout and to set different privilege levels by doing manual actions. The device uses biometric technology to prevent malicious users from logging in, logging out, and changing privilege levels. The current state of a user of the device is read by controllers in peripheral devices such as harddisks. Illegal access by a malicious user or a malicious program is interrupted based on the current state of a user by harddisk and DVD controllers making illegal access to data impossible. Hardware based access control is more secure than protection provided by the operating systems as operating systems are vulnerable to malicious attacks by viruses and hackers. The data on harddisks can be corrupted after a malicious access is obtained. With hardware based protection, software cannot manipulate the user privilege levels, it is impossible for a hacker or a malicious program to gain access to secure data protected by hardware or perform unauthorized privileged operations. The hardware protects the operating system image and file system privileges from being tampered. Therefore, a completely secure system can be created using a combination of hardware based security and secure system administration policies.
Backups are used to ensure data which is lost can be recovered
Data Masking of structured data is the process of obscuring (masking) specific data within a database table or cell to ensure that data security is maintained and sensitive information is not exposed to unauthorized personnel. This may include masking the data from users (for example so banking customer representatives can only see the last 4 digits of a customers national identity number), developers (who need real production data to test new software releases but should not be able to see sensitive financial data), outsourcing vendors, etc.
Data erasure is a method of software-based overwriting that completely destroys all electronic data residing on a hard drive or other digital media to ensure that no sensitive data is leaked when an asset is retired or reused.
International Laws and Standards
In the UK, the Data Protection Act is used to ensure that personal data is accessible to those whom it concerns, and provides redress to individuals if there are inaccuracies. This is particularly important to ensure individuals are treated fairly, for example for credit checking purposes. The Data Protection Act states that only individuals and companies with legitimate and lawful reasons can process personal information and cannot be shared.
The International Standard ISO/IEC 17799 covers data security under the topic of information security, and one of its cardinal principles is that all stored information, i.e. data, should be owned so that it is clear whose responsibility it is to protect and control access to that data.
The Trusted Computing Group is an organization that helps standardize computing security technologies.