For any organization managing encryption keys, the process of creating, maintaining, and improving a key management system can seem like a frustrating or even impossible task. These feelings of frustration often stem from a few prominent mistakes that frequently occur. Beyond simple annoyance with an inefficient system, key management mistakes can have a far more damaging effect: data breaches.Â Â Fortunately, these mistakes are easily preventable with some instruction. In our whitepaper, Ten Key Management Mistakesâ€¦And How to Avoid Them, we discuss ten actions that can make or break a key management system.
â€śWait, we have a data breach? But we passed our audit!â€ť
Companies of every size and industry find themselves discovering data breaches months or even weeks after passing an audit. The shock when this happens is usually due to a common key management mistake: falling for â€śCheckbox Compliance.â€ť
Checkbox Compliance is the belief that, once an auditor passes your IT infrastructure for compliance, your organization is golden until the next audit comes along. Unfortunately, data security doesnâ€™t work that way. Any changes to your IT infrastructure between audits can represent a security risk, and with how fast technology moves, changes to IT infrastructure can occur daily. Upgrading technology is a good and necessary practice, but such updates still require proper monitoring to see how those changes affect the system.
This timeline represents an average organization that is audited once a year. As the scheduled audit approaches, the company beefs up its data security measures. Because of the increased security, the organization passes its audit. Armed with the knowledge that their infrastructure has been deemed â€śsecure,â€ť the company slowly becomes complacent, giving hackers more opportunities to infiltrate the system. Once the data breach is discovered, the PR nightmare begins. Time and resources have to be allocated to assuring the public that the company is dedicated to increasing security in the future. After implementing stronger policies, the organization is able to keep its data security strong.
The end result of the process was a strong IT infrastructure, but at what cost? From a financial standpoint, it makes much more sense to adequately fund data security at the beginning and avoid the high cost of a data breach altogether. However, simply pouring money into the IT department is not the key to avoiding data breaches. Investing in advanced and efficient technology to protect your data is an important first step, but as with any tool, it is how you use it that matters. Your infrastructure must be properly managed and monitored to remain secure.
The strength of data security depends on how you view it. If you view data security as a box that you check off your to-do list, youâ€™re in trouble. Organizations must enforce the idea that data security is a journey, not a destination.
In short, follow these brief policies:
- Be vigilant, looking for security risks at all times
- Make security updates not just for the present, but also for the future
- Have respect for industry experts, and leverage their knowledge often
- View compliance as the minimum, not the end goal
- Donâ€™t cut corners with data security just to save money