Published Aug 12, 2021

Why Your Compliance Will Fall Short with Information Discovery Tools

Compliance and data governance don't just mean following rules. Having a proper grasp of what information you have is the first step towards protecting your information from threats across the digital and cyber security world.

Cloud technology has quickly established itself as an indispensable tool for many industries, allowing companies to easily collaborate, share, and maintain business continuity. But alongside these benefits, cloud usage has increasingly exposed company vulnerabilities. In today’s complex regulatory environment (HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA etc.) preventing information loss from these potential vulnerabilities can result in heavy fines, reputational damage, and threaten the existence of your company. And at the same time the onus of compliance and protecting PCI, PII, PHI, and financial identifiers falls on the companies that hold this information.

To contend with evolving information security requirements, compliance-focused tools rely on Information Discovery techniques to identify, label, and protect sensitive information. However, this approach uses rule-based regular expressions (RegEx) to identify sensitive information, which has been found to have several shortcomings:

1. Information Discovery Doesn’t Cover All of Your Critical Information

For Information Discovery to properly detect sensitive information, it must be discoverable according to pre-defined rules or RegEx. One of the major drawbacks of relying on RegEx is that the terms must be continuously updated to reflect the ever-changing compliance landscape. As a result, compliance tools are always playing catch-up with regulatory standards.

In addition to this, to demonstrate that you are actively monitoring your information environment in accordance with regulations requires a lot of effort. To effectively do so, you must be aware of what exists in your information environment, where it resides, and how it is used. Therefore, instead, mapping your entire environment will improve visibility and help you track not only PII, PHI, and PCI, but also any other information that is not discoverable using RegEx.

2. Information Discovery Cannot Detect All Exfiltration Attempts

It’s not easy to identify when malicious insiders are attempting to exfiltrate information by transferring, copying, or retrieving files from your cloud environment, server, or a personal computer without authorization. With Information Discovery tools alone, customer and partner information that does not match RegEx can remain vulnerable to exfiltration attempts and compromise your compliance.

3. Security Breaches Aren’t Just About Files, They Are About Information

Given that most detection tools focus on pinpointing specific key words and not the file’s overall content, when an incident occurs involving a file with critical information, your main concern is ensuring that its content is not compromised. Thus, remediation can only be successful when every draft, copy, and version of the information itself, and not just the file, is properly classified and monitored. To secure all your ideas and critical information, it is crucial to recognize clusters of the same information and how they spread across a cloud environment otherwise, the spirit of compliance is inherently lost.

Compliance and Information Intelligence Go Hand In Hand

By broadening the scope of what you consider critical information, how you can monitor it, and how to protect it – the essence of information intelligence – compliance becomes so much more than just following a set of rules. It is about protecting your customers, partners, and the employees who trust you with their information. Adopting information intelligence and security tools will minimize your vulnerability to security breaches and data leaks. With the added visibility of mapping and information clustering capabilities, which information intelligence provides, you can go beyond checking a box and make compliance an active priority.