What is a toxic data combination?

When multiple pieces of sensitive information converge within a particular area, it creates what is known as “toxic combinations” – unnecessarily elevating your data risk profile. For example, having credit card numbers, names, and addresses colocated together either in a table or within the same Google Doc servers as a very toxic combination. It’s a critical data security concern that demands your focused attention and prioritization.

It’s not uncommon for mutiple types of sensitive data to be colocated on within the same data source or data set. In fact, toxic combinations are become more and more prevalent, as seen in some of the largest breaches over the last few years.

What’s the big deal about Toxic Data Combinations?

Toxic combinations of sensitive data pose significant risks to organizations in two main ways:

Insider Risk & Privacy Concerns

Toxic combinations can lead to confidentiality breaches that compromise the security and privacy of individuals. When different pieces of personal information are combined, the resulting sensitive data can exponentially expose personal details that were intended to remain private. Unauthorized access to this combined information can potentially lead to identity theft, fraud, and other malicious activities. This erodes trust among clients, customers, and partners, undermining an organization’s reputation and credibility.

Needlessly Expanding the Magnitude of a Breach

They can also exponentially elevate the exposure profile of data breaches. When highly sensitive data is amalgamated, a breach involving such combined information can have far-reaching consequences. Not only does it provide cybercriminals with a more comprehensive view of an individual, but it also increases the potential damage that could arise from a single breach. The cumulative impact of such breaches can result in severe financial losses, legal repercussions, and regulatory fines, thereby inflicting substantial harm to the organization’s bottom line and overall operational stability.

Automatically Find Toxic Combinations with BigID

BigID helps identify all of your toxic combinations with precision, remediate risk, and manage toxic combos. Here’s how we do it:

Know Your Data

In the age of hybrid and multi-cloud, a strong data security strategy requires complete data visibility, context, and control. BigID can find sensitive data, including toxic combinations of such, across any type of data – unstructured like files and PDFs, as well as structured data – across the cloud and on prem. Go beyond basic and traditional pattern-matching measures and leverage advanced AI and ML to better, more accurately classify and pinpoint toxic combinations of data. We have hundreds of OOB classifiiers, as wells trainable classifiers, that can find sensitive information including various types of PI, PII, payment-related information, healthcare records, SSNs, and much more.

Connect the Dots

By leveraging this strong but dynamic discovery and classification foundation, BigID takes it a step further with data correlation and composite (sensitivity) identifiers. BigID’s correlation learning sets provide a sophisticated method for identifying toxic combinations of sensitive and personal data, helping unravel the connections between different pieces of information within the same data source. With correlation learning, meticulously analyze the data environment to uncover toxic combinations that might not be immediately apparent.

Find Toxic Combos

Build and configure unique, composite identifiers that represent toxic combinations you’d like to highlight and deem highly risky. For instance, you can set a composite identifier ruleset to detect when personal information like names, account numbers, or addresses come together. You may consider this combination a critical threat to exposure, access, and misuse – impacting both the security and privacy of that individual. The correlation learning sets act as an alarm, meticulously scrutinizing these amalgamations to ensure that no harmful combinations escape detection. Just as a skilled detective connects the dots to solve a complex case, BigID helps piece together sensitive data fragments to highlight critical data risks. This intricate understanding of data interdependencies allows organizations to proactively mitigate risks and enhance their data protection strategies.

Defuse the Toxicity

Understanding your toxic combinations is one thing – doing something about them is another. BigID’s DSPM workflows can help you streamline and accelerate the way you prioritize and remediate your most critical data risks, including toxic data combinations. Build out policies to detect specific toxic combinations and surface these as critical alerts within the Security Posture Management Console. Drill down and investigate; then automatically kickoff remediation workflows and actions across the right people and tools – whether it be encryption, deletion, masking, and more. Continue to validate remediation actions and reduce risk with confidence.

BigID empowers you to proactively identify, analyze, and neutralize toxic combinations, ensuring the security and confidentiality of sensitive information. In an increasingly interconnected data landscape, this capability becomes an invaluable asset for organizations striving to maintain trust, compliance, and data integrity.

Want to learn more about defusing data toxicity? Schedule some time with one of our data security experts today.