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Navigating the Data Security Technology Landscape: An Expert Guide

In today‘s digital world, data is one of the most valuable assets for any organization. At the same time, the growing volume and sophistication of cyber threats makes protecting that data increasingly difficult. A strong data security infrastructure is essential for preventing costly breaches, complying with regulations, and maintaining customer trust.

While there is no silver bullet for data security, deploying the right combination of technologies provides a critical foundation. In this post, we‘ll take an in-depth look at the main categories of data security solutions and the specific tools available to help you safeguard your sensitive information.

The Threats Facing Data

The data security threats organizations face are wide-ranging and constantly evolving. Some of the most common include:

  • Unauthorized access by external attackers or malicious insiders
  • Theft or leakage of sensitive data
  • Malware infections corrupting data or systems
  • Denial-of-service attacks
  • Improper access control/permissions
  • Unpatched vulnerabilities in software and systems
  • Human error leading to accidental disclosures

These threats can have major consequences. According to IBM‘s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, the average cost of a breach rose to $4.24 million, the highest in the report‘s history. Lost business accounted for 38% of those costs, showing the long-term damage to reputation and customer trust.

With 61% of breaches involving credentials (Verizon DBIR 2021), it‘s clear that access control and authentication are foundational. Let‘s dive into the key technologies.

Access Control and Authentication

Controlling who has access to data and verifying their identity is fundamental to security. Core access control tools include:


Network security devices that monitor traffic and block unauthorized access based on predefined security rules. Firewalls should be deployed at network perimeters and between different network segments.

Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) add features like application awareness, intrusion prevention, and user identity management. By 2023, 60% of organizations will have switched to NGFWs (Gartner).

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Encrypted tunnels for secure remote access to a network. VPNs are crucial for protecting connections over untrusted networks, such as for remote workers.

The global VPN market is expected to grow at a 18% CAGR from 2021-2028 (Grand View Research), fueled by the rise of remote work.

Zero Trust Security

An approach requiring strict verification for every user and device, both inside and outside the network perimeter. Enforces granular access policies and assumes no implicit trust.

According to the Cybersecurity Insiders Zero Trust Adoption Report, 72% of organizations plan to assess or implement zero trust in 2021.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Requiring additional proof of identity beyond a password, such as a security token or biometric data. MFA should be used for any sensitive accounts and systems.

Microsoft reports that MFA can block over 99.9% of account compromise attacks. Usage is on the rise, with Duo Security reporting a 184% increase in MFA adoption from 2019 to 2020.


Encryption secures data by scrambling it into an unreadable format, so that only authorized parties with the decryption key can access it. Encryption can be applied at multiple levels:

Data Encryption

Encrypting individual files or data elements to protect confidentiality wherever the data resides. Ideal for highly sensitive data like financial records or intellectual property.

The global encryption software market is projected to reach $11.8 billion by 2026, growing at a 15.2% CAGR (Valuates Reports).

Database Encryption

Encrypting data within a database management system. Important for large data stores containing regulated or company confidential info.

Key use cases include credit card data for PCI DSS compliance, as encrypted data does not count toward disclosure requirements in the event of a breach. All major relational databases now offer transparent database encryption (TDE) functionality.

File System Encryption

Encrypting at the file system level to automatically secure all data. A good blanket protection, especially for laptops or other easily lost devices.

File system encryption solutions like Microsoft‘s BitLocker have seen wide enterprise adoption. Managing encryption keys through a central platform is key for scalability.

Transport Encryption

Encrypting data in transit as it moves across a network, such as with HTTPS or a VPN. Essential for preventing snooping on sensitive communications.

Google reports that over 95% of traffic across its products and services is now encrypted, up from less than 50% in 2014.

Network Security

Network security tools protect the movement of data across an organization‘s networks and defend against external threats. Core technologies include:

Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS)

Monitor networks for suspicious activity, alerting administrators and blocking potential attacks in real-time. Use signatures to spot known threats and anomaly detection to catch zero-days. Should be deployed at network perimeters and key internal segments.

By 2025, the IDS/IPS market is expected to reach $7.1 billion, up from $3.4 billion in 2020 (MarketsandMarkets).

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Mitigation

Solutions that detect and filter malicious traffic from DDoS attacks meant to overwhelm networks and systems. Use techniques like traffic shaping, blackhole routing, and source-based blocking.

Cisco‘s Annual Internet Report projects DDoS attacks will double from 7.9 million in 2018 to 15.4 million by 2023. Specialized appliances or cloud services are recommended for most orgs vs. relying on ISPs.

Secure Email Gateways

Scan and filter inbound and outbound email for spam, malware, and sensitive data. Enforce policies around encryption and authenticate senders/recipients.

With email-borne threats like phishing behind many high-profile breaches, SEGs are a critical layer of defense. The SEG market is predicted to reach $7 billion by 2024 (MarketsandMarkets).

Secure Web Gateways

Protect web-surfing employees by blocking access to malicious sites, scanning downloads, preventing data exfiltration, and enforcing content policies. Usually cloud-based.

By 2024, 80% of organizations will use SWGs, up from 20% in 2020 (Gartner). Bundled platforms called secure access service edge (SASE) combine SWGs with zero trust network access.

Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection secures the various end-user devices that connect to an organization‘s network and access data, including PCs, mobile devices, and servers. Key components are:


Software that scans devices for malicious software like viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware. Uses signatures and heuristics to catch known and unknown threats. All endpoints should have AV installed and kept updated.

Over 64% of companies increased their spending on AV in 2020 (Cybersecurity Insiders). But AV alone is no longer sufficient, with 60% of breaches involving malware-free attacks (Ponemon 2021).

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)

Advanced tools providing continuous monitoring and analysis of endpoint activity to detect stealthy attacks. Collect detailed telemetry and use behavioral analysis to catch insider threats and novel malware.

The EDR market is expected to grow to $3.53 billion by 2025 (MarketsandMarkets). Newer extended detection and response (XDR) solutions add integration with network and cloud data.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Platforms for managing and securing mobile devices accessing corporate apps and data. Set policies, distribute software, remotely lock/wipe devices, and enforce encryption and strong authentication.

With 60% of all corporate data accessed via mobile devices (Zimperium), MDM is crucial for BYOD environments. Unified endpoint management (UEM) expands MDM to handle all device types.

Removable Media Controls

Tools to manage the use of removable storage like USB drives, which can easily lead to data leakage. Set policies on what devices can be used, scan media for malware, and log all file transfers.

Honeywell‘s 2021 USB Threat Report found 37% of threats were specifically designed to utilize removable media, over double from 2020, highlighting the need for dedicated controls.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP solutions prevent the accidental or malicious exfiltration of sensitive information outside an organization. Core capabilities include:

Data Discovery and Classification

Tools that scan and tag data to determine what information is sensitive and locate all instances across an organization. Crucial first step to applying appropriate protections.

By 2023, 90% of organizations will use data classification schema as the foundation for their data security governance programs (Gartner).

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Embedding protections within files themselves to control how they can be accessed and shared. Enables secure external collaboration by preventing unauthorized use even if a file is copied.

The enterprise DRM market size is estimated to grow from $2.7 billion in 2021 to $7.9 billion by 2026, at a 23.8% CAGR (MarketsandMarkets).

Data Backup and Recovery

Regularly and securely backing up data to mitigate the impact of an incident like malware or system failures. Use off-site and offline storage for critical data.

The Sophos State of Ransomware 2021 survey found that orgs with backups had almost double the recovery rate vs. those without. Immutable backups are key to defend against ransomware.

Security Monitoring and Management

To provide full visibility and efficiently manage security efforts, centralized monitoring and management solutions tie together info from across the security stack. Essential tools include:

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

Aggregate and correlate log data from across systems to provide real-time threat monitoring and incident response. Apply rules to catch known attack patterns and use machine learning to detect anomalies.

Cloud-native SIEM solutions are becoming the norm, with the cloud SIEM market expected to reach $4.1 billion by 2024, up from $0.9 billion in 2019 (MarketsandMarkets).

User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

Monitor and analyze user and device activity using machine learning to identify abnormal behavior that could indicate an attack. Provides key capabilities lacking in signature-based monitoring.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, 60% of organizations will use UEBA to detect internal threats, up from less than 15% in 2018. Many SIEM and XDR solutions now incorporate UEBA.

Threat Intelligence Platforms

Collect, analyze, and share data on threats and vulnerabilities from internal and external sources. Use to proactively update defenses, validate alerts, and investigate incidents.

The value of TI is clear, with 86% saying it has improved their overall security posture (SANS 2021 CTI Survey). Many orgs now use threat intelligence platforms to automate TI management.

Pulling It All Together

While each of these technology categories plays an important role, there is no one solution that covers all security needs. The most effective strategies take a comprehensive, layered approach, deploying multiple tools to provide defense-in-depth and eliminate single points of failure.

Selecting the right set of technologies requires evaluating one‘s unique risk profile and security maturity. Factors to consider include:

  • Types of data and systems to protect
  • Industry and regulatory requirements
  • Supporting cloud and remote users
  • Size and skills of the security team
  • Integration with existing infrastructure

Increasingly, organizations are turning to integrated platforms and managed services to reduce complexity. By 2024, 30% of orgs will adopt cloud-delivered secure web gateway, cloud access security broker, zero trust network access, and branch office firewall as a service capabilities from the same vendor (Gartner).

No matter the approach, it‘s critical to remember that security is a continuous journey. As new threats emerge, technologies evolve, and business needs change, the security stack must adapt. A well-rounded program combines robust processes, skilled people, and layered technologies for the strongest posture.

The coming years will bring exciting developments, from greater automation with security orchestration and response (SOAR), to proactive defense with cyber deception technology, to tamper-proof integrity using blockchain. But getting the fundamentals in place with the core data security technologies covered here is the essential starting point.

Safeguarding data in today‘s complex, fast-moving digital world is a significant challenge. By understanding the different categories of data security technologies, how they work together, and how to match them to your organization‘s needs, you can craft a comprehensive strategy to protect critical assets and ensure ongoing success. No organization can afford to overlook this vital aspect of modern business—the stakes are simply too high.