Five Essential Ingredients of a Data Privacy Vault

Over the last few years we’ve seen a massive increase in the amount of PII data being collected as well as a proliferation of user data regulations. As a result, large enterprises like Google and Netflix have started using proprietary data privacy vaults to manage and secure sensitive data. A new paradigm in the security and compliance world, the data privacy vault combines security tools and best practices with sophisticated access management to provide strict limits on how much sensitive data is shared by internal systems.

You may be wondering why this sort of a solution hasn’t become the industry standard. After all, if companies that large are relying on it, it must be working well. The reason is resource disparity--for most small or medium companies, building a data privacy vault is a very heavy lift and demands a level of expertise and resources most do not have. 

To help you get a sense of what building a vault entails, we put together a guide to outlining the key elements of a vault so you can decide whether building your own makes sense: 

Domain expertise in security and privacy

A vault can be understood as a solution which layers a diverse set of software development domains, especially in the areas of security, including encryption, key management, and identity access management and protocol design. This is an area that requires careful handling. For example, a seemingly simple library call to encrypt a small data set actually requires some thoughtful design such as using a cryptographically strong RNG to produce the encryption key, proper encryption algorithms to support the data access patterns, adequate IV to setup the encryption, secure storage of the encryption keys and ciphertext, maintenance of the encryption keys, and so on. 

Managing these domains requires a highly skilled and well-resourced group of security infrastructure experts. Building your own vault isn’t just a project for the IT software development team--meeting security and privacy guidelines such as those for transacting credit card data requires intensive security assessment and reassessment of your entire system, from data collection to third-party integrations. 

Even the most security-conscious companies likely do not have the time, resources, or individual expertise to do this work and keep delivering their own products. Domain expertise is not only essential to build an effective vault, but it is critical for keeping up with the latest security tools and features and staying on the cutting edge of the field. 

Regulatory compliance

Regulations are continually changing, but unlike developments in software, they aren’t often written or enforced in ways that business can easily adapt to. Because misusing or leaking sensitive data is such a high-profile issue, companies that are looking to build a vault will need to include compliance certifications and controls in their development roadmap. 

Establishing internal rules and protocols, offering users control of their data, and building a strong data governance program are all early stages of a longer process. Once these are in place, you must also continually check that you are in compliance with new iterations of multiple regulations while ensuring that you are up to speed with incident reporting and handling requirements. 

Because the laws governing PII data are constantly changing, you will need to factor that upkeep into the already large amount of time it takes to ensure your new vault is compliant. 

System architecture

Your team of software development experts will need to architect a system that can scale and is performant and resilient in the cloud environment. This system would also need to accommodate various data life cycle management, query, and workflow management requirements, and be extensible to integrate with current and future enterprise systems.

Companies need data but data represents risk. There is no shortcut to solving this issue--only if you have the time to integrate this wide range of software systems, security features, practices, and training will you be able to develop an effective vault. 

Operations 

The modern business runs on data, which is part of what makes the vault idea so exciting--rather than clamping down on data, companies can use it as needed with adding risk. What makes this paradigm possible is an ever-improving array of algorithms, encryption tools, secret management capabilities, and other infrastructure. 

You need to complement a strongly crafted security team with world class cloud operations in order to ensure the systems are utilized properly. Cloud services mean proper guardrails and operation teams need to be in place to provide a strong and trustworthy service. Your security experts should be able to manage all of these processes in real time from their security operations center. They will have built proprietary logging, threat detection, and incident response systems to keep tabs on everything that’s going on, all while ensuring the rest of the team is able to work within the vault’s zero trust architecture to get the data they need. 

Business processes and alignments

The key to sensitive data management is having a delineated idea of ownership. Building a vault requires clearly defined corporate policies and responsibilities in order to meet various stringent compliance control audits. Mapping out and understanding where data is flowing is something that your whole security team should work on. 

These projects need dedicated responsibilities so they do not rely on one person. Additionally, they need a dedicated Security and Data Privacy team to lead. Managing vault data also means acquiring liability coverage in order to shield your team, users, and business. 

We did it so you don’t have to

Vaults are an invaluable new solution to a persistent problem, allowing you to get the most out of your data without creating security risks. Unfortunately, most companies do not have the abundance of time, money, and security experts necessary to build one from scratch. As this guide shows, a proprietary vault is a substantial investment. For large tech companies to invest this much in the vault concept is a testament to its effectiveness. 

Skyflow’s vault is built and maintained by a team of experts and offers the same functionality without the massive investment of time and person-hours. If you are interested in a vault, reach out to us and learn how Skyflow can help.