What is data at rest encryption?

January 22, 2024

Although organizations often have data loss prevention (DLP) strategies in place to protect data in motion, many of these same organizations fail to realize data at rest must also be addressed to ensure a complete protection strategy. This gap in security can leave sensitive data at risk for unauthorized access, loss, or misuse when organizations fail to properly monitor stored data. Here’s how to identify data at rest and what your organization needs to do to secure information under your control.

Understanding data at rest

Data at rest refers to data being stored throughout your organization’s various equipment and systems. This can include information in databases, files stored in the cloud, or on endpoint devices such as employee desktops or laptops. In order to ensure optimal security, stored data needs to be encrypted.

What data at rest encryption means for your organization

Your organization’s stored data makes a lucrative target for cyber criminals. With the worldwide shift to an ever-increasing focus on digital life, this collection of information is exponentially growing with each passing day.

With cybercrime predicted to cost the world upwards of $10.5 trillion dollars by 2025, failure to properly protect data at rest with strong encryption represents a liability not only to your business, but also to the customers you serve. In 2021 alone, nearly 42 million Americans were the victims of identity fraud, a 79% increase over 2020.

There are also the reputational ramifications to consider. Should a data breach occur as a result of your organization’s security shortcomings, the damage to your brand may result in long-term costs not as easily measured in dollars and cents.

Data classification and data at rest encryption

Proper data classification protects sensitive information wherever it resides, and many organizations rely heavily on manual classification. However, this process is often inaccurate, subjective, and inconsistent. This method of classification also ignores data at rest, and cannot account for shifting classification requirements over time. The result is a poorly implemented system that cannot properly handle sensitive data requirements.

Instead, automated data classification protects not only data at rest, but also data security needs throughout the data lifecycle.

Data at rest encryption and data lifecycle stages

Data at rest encryption is only part of the equation. To properly address data security concerns, organizations must be cognizant of all data in their systems. Proper data loss prevention strategies address data security with encryption in three primary stages: data at rest, data in motion, and data in use.

Data at rest encryption versus data in motion encryption

Data in motion, also known as data in transit, refers to data movement from one location to another. This can include from computer to computer, cloud server to endpoint, or any number of other transfers across both public and private networks.

To ensure proper data security, data in motion must also be encrypted, and proper privacy measures must be followed. This includes restricting the sending of confidential data or personally identifiable information.

Data at rest encryption and data in use

Data at rest accessed by an authorized user or application becomes data in use. To ensure proper authorization for access, data at rest must be properly encrypted and restricted.

One of the best ways to ensure good data hygiene is through a Zero Trust framework. A Zero Trust framework ensures proper authorization by requiring users’ identities to be verified any time they wish to access sensitive data at rest. However, in order for proper access to be granted or denied, data at rest must first be properly classified according to sensitivity. Moreover, data at rest can only be properly classified if correct data at rest encryption is in place as it is with a product like Spirion’s Governance Suite.

How Spirion’s Governance Suite protects data at rest

Spirion’s Governance Suite offers a comprehensive product to protect your data at all stages of the data lifecycle. With the Governance Suite, your organization can find and protect sensitive data where it lives, including file shares, cloud repositories, and endpoints. Through automated workflows, real-time monitoring and analytics, and comprehensive integration with your existing technology stack, your data will be protected with 98.5% accuracy.

In addition to protecting your data at rest as part of the data discovery process, the Governance Suite addresses data classification and remediation needs for a proactive and complete security solution.

Watch a demo to see the Governance Suite in action, or contact us for more information.