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How to Reduce the Risk of Sensitive Data Exposure

Mitigating your sensitive data exposure risk requires a solid plan, proactive training, and the right security technology. Learn what you need to do to enhance the protection of your confidential, regulated, and private information.

Key Takeaways

  • Sensitive data exposure can be caused by a lack of data encryption and weak authentication and access controls.

  • Consequences of sensitive data exposure vary by industry and can include fines, legal actions, and loss of customer trust.

  • Confidential computing is a type of security that uses application and virtual machine isolation to enhance data privacy.

  • Intel offers three confidential computing solutions that help mitigate sensitive data exposure.



Mitigating Sensitive Data Exposure in Today’s Security Landscape

From sophisticated cyber threats to unintentional data exposure and large fines to legal actions, the stakes are high for protecting and securing your sensitive data. However, knowing what proactive measures you should take, navigating through today’s privacy-enhancing technologies, and determining which tech will best fit your unique data and compliance requirements is complex. In the end, the process of reducing your organization’s risk of sensitive data exposure may leave you with more questions than answers.

To help make your efforts simpler and easier, let’s walk through some key steps to consider when mitigating your sensitive data exposure risk.

Know the Consequences of Sensitive Data Exposure for Your Organization

Fines, legal and regulatory repercussions, reputational damage, and loss of customer trust—the consequences of sensitive data exposure can be significant and far reaching for organizations.

Having a deep understanding of your industry’s existing laws and regulations is a critical first step to avoiding these and more-disastrous consequences. Additionally, you can use this knowledge to help guide your choice of privacy-enhancing technology and inform the creation of your data security program.

Security standards vary from industry to industry and change based on the location in which they were created. For example, US-based businesses operating within the healthcare industry must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while financial services organizations are required to follow the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Businesses that interact with European citizens or organizations based in the European Union must comply with regulations as well, such as the EU Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

To learn more about industry- and country-specific data security standards and regulations, read our Data Security: What It Is, Why It’s Important, and How to Get Started article.

Consider Your Privacy-Enhancing Technology Options

You may have already started investigating privacy-enhancing technologies and found the number of available options overwhelming.

To help you with your evaluation, we suggest first focusing on your organization’s unique criteria for enhancing your data protection and mitigating risk. Then, when you begin examining types of data security, you can be prepared to look at your options through the lens of your organization’s needs rather than only seeing a technology’s features and benefits.

Here are some of the most common data security types you’ll likely encounter during your research.

  • Secure multiparty computing
  • Data tokenization
  • Homomorphic encryption
  • Differential privacy

While these data protection technologies are effective in helping to keep data private, they can also surface new challenges, including the need to:

  • Perform multiple transformations on data, which adds latency and complexity and could result in a loss of data fidelity.
  • Restructure a substantial amount of the data or recode applications with new tools or techniques.
  • Add costly specialized hardware or accelerators to address the significant compute or network overhead these technologies require.

Choose Confidential Computing to Reduce Your Risk of Sensitive Data Exposure

A superior alternative to these options is confidential computing, which enhances the protection of sensitive data without the need to transform it or use unusual coding or tools. Instead, confidential computing uses isolation, verification, encryption, and control inside a trusted execution environment (TEE) to enable standard software to process data at CPU speeds.

“Confidential Computing protects data in use by performing computation in a hardware-based, attested Trusted Execution Environment. These secure and isolated environments prevent unauthorized access or modification of applications and data while in use, thereby increasing the security assurances for organizations that manage sensitive and regulated data.”1

—Confidential Computing Consortium

We launched our first confidential computing solution in 2018 and today offer a comprehensive portfolio of technologies to meet your unique security needs and regulatory requirements:

  • Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX): Enables application isolation of data actively being used in the processor and memory by creating a TEE called an enclave. With Intel® SGX, only the code or functions inside the protected enclave can access confidential data. This drastically minimizes the attack surface and access to sensitive data. In fact, other software in the virtual machine, cloud tenants, the cloud stack, and admins are not allowed access.
  • Intel® Trust Domain Extensions (Intel® TDX): Enables hardware-level isolation of data within a virtual machine to limit protected access to only software or administrators with explicit permission. This helps reduce attack surfaces and mitigate the risk of data exposure, data breaches, tampering, or theft.
  • Intel® Trust Authority: A zero trust attestation SaaS that verifies the trustworthiness of compute assets at the network, edge, and in the cloud. Intel® Trust Authority attests to the validity of the Intel® confidential computing protected enclaves.

With both application and virtual machine isolation from Intel® SGX and Intel® TDX, you have the flexibility to set the size of trust boundary you need for your data. Additionally, using a third-party attestation service like Intel® Trust Authority can help increase independence and objectivity to improve the trustworthiness of the attestation.

Organizations across the globe are using Intel® confidential computing technologies today to address their complex and sensitive data security challenges.

Security Doesn’t Rest, and Neither Will We

Reducing your risk of sensitive data exposure is imperative. Yet, navigating evolving laws, regulations, and standards is difficult, and identifying the right data security technology is complex. The many factors you must consider can make this process long and arduous. Our security experts are here to help you at every step of your data security journey.

When you’re ready to move forward with Intel® confidential computing solutions as your security technology of choice, we suggest exploring these options to get started:

Visit the cloud service providers currently offering Intel® TDX: AlibabaMicrosoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.