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ZenGuard Provides Additional Layers of Data Security


Nick Welke



As seen in the news, companies have been managing an epidemic of cyberattacks. The catastrophic hack of Colonial Pipeline disrupted East Coast fuel supplies this spring, and each day seems to bring a news of a retailer navigating a data breach.

As storage technology has evolved, so have the hackers who are interested in breaking in. Even if your firm doesn’t operate in more vulnerable industries that store financial or medical details, your data faces a rising, increasingly sophisticated threat. And it doesn’t matter whether your organization has modernized its data program or has plans to update your data stack. Your SAS environment remains vulnerable to attack.

Chances are, your data analysts are too busy generating insights to keep your system updated with the latest security considerations. Plus, all your SAS administrators must navigate a complex process to implement updates for your platform. Without the right resources to keep your system up-to-date, your firm could face damage to both your bottom line and long-term reputation.

However, with the addition of ZenGuard, your organization gains the hands it needs. Along with helping you stay current and keep your SAS environment running smoothly with the latest features, this service plan provides an additional layer of defense to keep your data right where it belongs.

Every Business Faces a Security Risk with Its Data

At one point, only a few specific sectors seemingly had to maintain a high level of data security. If you worked in finance, health care, or a civic institution, your sensitive information was most vulnerable to attack.

Now, the data itself isn’t necessarily the only target. Hackers can also be interested in the metadata around your information that constitutes user details. In a recent incident involving Home Depot, millions of user records were leaked that only included names, phone numbers, and email addresses. While superficially less sensitive data, details like these still constitute a real privacy threat when released.

On the dark web, that’s enough information to sell and be used to attempt future hacks. And if hackers happen to learn the same user name works on multiple sites, then they gain cross-site capabilities that can be scripted for other attacks. Even non-personally identifiable information (PII) that can’t be traced to a person has value to bad actors.

Ultimately, the shift to an online environment for all our day-to-day errands helped accelerate these vulnerabilities. On a personal level, you can monitor your security with a variety of tools. But for your organization, you need to be mindful of your databases and the SAS tools used to access them.

Maintaining Security Is a Priority Across Your Data Program

To be clear, using a SAS environment does not suddenly introduce a security issue with your data. No matter what analytics tool your organization uses, it’s by definition at-risk because it has access to secure data.

While the security of operating systems and storage environments are regular topics in the industry, analytics platforms are often an afterthought. In theory, you want your business intelligence tools to access as much data as possible. It almost sounds antithetical to work toward locking that down.

From the beginning, organizations must ask if the data SAS is accessing is sensitive, which dictates the need for a higher level of security. Then, the platform’s ability to interact with your various systems constitutes further vulnerabilities that need attention.

How ZenGuard Handles Patches and Gaps in Security

When you work with Zencos on a managed service plan, you gain access to two expert administrators who monitor your data environment for potential problems. One of our top priorities is keeping your system up to date with security patches.

Depending on your operating system, Microsoft and Red Hat will release updates to keep their systems secure. Similarly, Oracle, Teradata, and other database providers will release security patches. While these updates will shore up gaps in your armor, they intentionally open connections to your SAS environment. Part of our responsibility is to ensure those connection points remain secure.

We manage security by making sure your version of SAS is current and running any new hotfixes. Unlike the operating systems on your phone, SAS has to be updated manually by an administrator. No matter your support plan, ZenGuard provides access to a two-person team.

Many updates include post-install steps, which means your web application needs to be rebuilt. If your system includes custom processes, you need to test each update in a development environment to ensure no errors are introduced. Once validated, the changes are introduced to your production system.

Ultimately, the mechanics for updating your SAS software requires planning and needs to be considered carefully. Not every SAS update is relevant for every customer, which is why you need a specialist to review the details in every release.

Maintaining security updates introduces chances for downtime, but the process shores up critical vulnerabilities in your data. It’s like an inoculation: You may not feel well immediately afterwards. But you’re doing a good thing for your system.

ZenGuard Administrators Shore Up Your Corporate Firewall

When it comes to protecting your business from cyberattackers, you need multiple lines of defense. Every enterprise we work with has an external-facing series of firewalls in place to protect their data. But as has been proven, you need more protection in today’s security climate.

When you sign up for a ZenGuard support plan, you aren’t gaining a new first-line of defense. We want to make sure that your security protocols extend beyond a hard external shell that leaves a soft middle open to attack.

If a hacker finds a way past the firewall using a man-in-the-middle attack or any other approach, your organization is at risk. One security breach can open up multiple potential paths toward sensitive information for your firm or its customers. That’s what our “defense in depth” approach works to prevent. ZenGuard conducts consistent tests on your environment to ensure certificates are current and components interact in expected ways.

Rather than worrying about irregularities that introduce vulnerabilities, you have experts cleaning out old accounts and eliminating outdated access points. By ensuring best practices are also in place around passwords and password retention, you gain an additional layer of defense. Plus, it comes at a cost that’s a fraction of hiring in-house resources.

No matter the complexity of your data environment, ZenGuard can provide the additional level of maintenance and security you need. If you have a fairly static SAS environment, you may not need the same level of support as those with multiple grid machines using various open source tools.

But if the current risky climate has you worried about your data, let’s talk.

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