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ALTR 2021 Predictions: Data consumption governance will be central to security in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Data consumption governance will be central to security in 2021

By James Beecham, co-founder and CTO, ALTR

It is often said that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. In the year ahead, as the world even more fully embraces a new normal of distributed workforces and remote access, we can confidently add a third to that list—cybersecurity risk.

Data security in particular has become essential to conducting business. To be successful, it must be a part of decision-making every time a process is created, data is shared or new services are enabled. These decisions must be driven by data-security practices that were born in the cloud.

Traditional security measures are implemented into the infrastructure that data uses, like toll booths and barriers on a highway. However, technologies are emerging that instrument applications to gain observability over data itself. This has been achieved in various ways such as data virtualization which leads to better knowledge and insight about the performance of data and systems.

The definition of observability is now expanding beyond collecting and analyzing data. Data consumption governance for instance, offers a topology for understanding the relationships between data use and the applications that store and create data. Relatively new technologies, such as data security-as-a-service (DSaaS), offer anomaly detection, event correlation and remediation at the query layer as with ALTR.

Organizations are beginning to build those features into applications using APIs and database drivers, or natively integrating this type of security into cloud databases. This will continue to have a growing digital impact on business, and it represents a big change in mindset for IT departments because it allows them to focus on things like optimizing infrastructure around cost, delivery, efficiency and innovation, rather than on data security.

Data consumption governance offers another benefit. As it is abstracted from infrastructure, it offers observability into multiple data sources at the application level, without having to move the data. Those who need to govern and control data consumption are both in sync, and companies can move data into big data lakes, CDWs or across any on-prem, cloud or hybrid environment.

From that perspective, it is like putting safety technology into the cars on a highway or even the highway itself. Applications can go anywhere, on any road—even a road in the cloud—and still be safe.

Data governance observability is not a substitute for monitoring. With the global rush to implement privacy regulations, blindly letting applications and users access data is a risk both IT teams and companies cannot afford. Observability over who is accessing data or why they are accessing that data, complements the ability to inspect and understand data in the IT stack.

IT departments have in many cases been afraid to ‘turn on’ database logging because of the impact it could have on performance. Using application-layer data security, or implementing integrated, out-of-band data access observability into a database offers an avenue to maintaining performance while meeting regulatory demands. Cloud databases and warehouses are making this easier, and solutions like DSaaS are practical, efficient prerequisites for success.

While data security has largely focused on infrastructure operations, leaving IT departments and engineers to plug the gaps, observability is becoming a central concept in data warehousing or any other cloud configuration. Given the increasing complexity of the data stack, observability governance not only decouples IT operations from data security, but will increasingly enable business in 2021 and beyond as remote access becomes commonplace.


About the Author


James Beecham is a computer engineer and entrepreneur. He co-founded ALTR, an information security startup, where he currently serves as CTO and has been issued multiple patents for the company’s proprietary technology. Previously, Beecham was the technology R&D lead at Dash Financial, and was an embedded systems engineer at Texas Memory Systems prior to its acquisition by IBM. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he holds a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on embedded systems.
Published Monday, January 04, 2021 7:47 AM by David Marshall
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