data security
De-Mystifying Data Security

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When many of us think about data security… Oh wait, many of us don’t think about it until there’s an incident or a breaking news story about a breach of our personal data. But if we do, it’s often a mysterious process, accessible only to large enterprises, hidden even from the rest of the company. The data security team is pictured secluded in a dark corner of the office, setting up and monitoring security controls like something out of the Matrix—with tools just as complicated and incomprehensible.  

This might have been acceptable when data was only gathered by the largest companies and safely ensconced inside the perimeter of their gigantic data centers. Data security could be centralized and siloed because data was as well. But with the increase in remote work, digital transformation, and the drive to utilize data across businesses of all sizes, sensitive data is now everywhere. And data security must follow. It must come out of the shadows and become accessible to everyone.  

Disempowered data users

While data is a key vulnerability for essentially every company, until recently most companies didn’t want to acknowledge the risk. But now, with a new data breach announcement like the recent Robinhood leak every few weeks, the problem is impossible to ignore. The combination of shadowy data security with the seemingly unending parade of breaches has led to a situation where everyone from users to companies to consumers might feel like it’s impossible to keep data safe.  

At the same time, new regulations around data privacy protection keep rolling out. In order to comply with these regulations, companies often run a siloed process where the laws are first interpreted by in-house lawyers or governance teams, then policies are created and handed over to data and/or security teams to implement. End users who actually understand how data needs to be utilized are often left out – rules are imposed from the outside, and enforcement is inscrutable. This can make data users feel cut off from the process of protecting it.  

Engaged consumers expect a more transparent process

This disjointed, top-down process is the complete opposite of today’s consumer buying experiences. When evaluating a new product or solution, they don’t want to be told – they want to be shown. They expect the opportunity to try things out for themselves and evaluate experiences through their own perspective.  

It only makes sense that the same would hold true for business users looking to protect sensitive data. They should have the opportunity to see for themselves how data security solutions work, and even more than that, they should have input into the data governance and control process. Policies should not just be handed down from above and left to be implemented in a black box.  

Unfortunately, the traditional buying process for enterprise software, let alone data security, has not been at all transparent. That was one of the big factors in our decision to release the ALTR free plan.  

A collaborative approach to data control and protection

We basically took the traditional software sales model and flipped it on its head. Now, people across the company can try it for themselves: they can implement ALTR on Snowflake for free. They can start to understand how the solution works and also how data is used in their company – what data is accessed and who needs it. Policies can be created collaboratively and organically with input from actual users.  

A free version also makes data security available to smaller businesses. Startups and mom and pops know they need business basics like credit card processing and a website, but data security may not be on the “essentials” list. However, even the smallest company now has a mailing list or a loyalty program containing customer PII that should be protected. In fact, it might be even more crucial as the reputational impact of a leak could be even more devastating. We believe data security should be a key component of business culture from the smallest to the largest organizations.  

Data governance and security based on insight

Bringing more users into the process means it’s imperative we make the ALTR solution as easy and intuitive as possible. But it also means guiding users who may be new to data security by providing insights into how data is used and how it needs to be protected.  

Some users may know exactly what they want to do, but others might be unsure. Either way you can start with just observing: see who is accessing what data, when and how much. You could think of this like an online banking account. Maybe you log in to pay specific bills, but you may also be interested in how you’re spending your money, looking at expenses grouped by category, and building a budget around that. You can find similar, helpful insights around data usage in ALTR.  

In our own product, we see that users are most likely to visit our Analytics feature both before and after viewing their data access policies. In fact, since adding the Heatmap and Analytics to the platform we’ve seen many users dive deep into these features with an uptick in how long users spend on these pages. The close relationship between these pages in the user experience is encouraging us to develop ways to help our users adjust their policies based on what they see in Analytics.  

Data security for all

We often hear companies say, “security is everyone’s responsibility.” But how could it be when most of us are left out of the process? Data security should be for all. We wouldn’t accept a world where only the largest homes behind security fences with guards at the gates were safe from break-ins. Today, consumers have access not only to effective window and door locks but also internet-connected cameras. They are now aware when a package is delivered or if there’s a porch pirate snooping around. Why wouldn’t we expect the same visibility and security for our private data?

With the right tools in place, everyone can feel in control and prepared to keep data safe.

Get started with ALTR Free right now.

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