One of the biggest concerns for organizations is how to ensure that the data they keep on shared systems is not inadvertently made available to the wrong individuals.  With systems potentially being shared by individuals in different roles, business units, countries, or even companies, proper data segregation is necessary to ensure that all data is only accessible to those who have the authorization to access it.

There are several main reasons why data segregation is so important:

  • Security: If sensitive data is accessed by unauthorized individuals, it can cause great damage to a company. Leaked intellectual property or proprietary data could mean the loss of competitive advantage or expose an organization to sabotage.  A breach of business partner information, or customer details, could lead to a loss of those business relationships or legal liability.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Organizations that handle sensitive data often have multiple regulations that apply to what they can and can’t do with the data. Oftentimes restricted data doesn’t even have to be accessed by an unauthorized individual to trigger a compliance violation, just the possibility of unauthorized access is enough.

Because of the potential impact unauthorized access can have on a business, it is very important that organizations implement robust data segregation measures to limit access to sensitive data.  On shared systems, since data cannot be segregated physically, it must be segregated virtually, using a combination of data access policies and encryption to make it impossible for unauthorized access to the data.

Implementing data segregation at a lower level, such as the data access level, can make that segregation more robust and less likely to be compromised by reducing the systems or applications that have access to the data.  Segregating on the data object level can also be less complex, and the less complexity there is in the system, the less chance there is of something going wrong.