Rajesh Parthasarathy, Mage: "tools help in reducing the impact of a breach and can never guarantee immunity”

As data is the new oil, more threat actors are looking for ways to obtain sensitive information, eager to use it for a variety of sinister purposes.

Following a data leak, home users might experience identity theft while companies risk damaging their brand reputation and suffering financial losses.

To discuss the best data privacy and security practices, Cybernews talked to Rajesh Parthasarathy, the CEO of Mage Data, which provides data security and data privacy software for global enterprises.

What has the journey been like for Mage? How did it all start?

Looking back now, the journey of Mage has been transformational, to say the least. Early on, at a time when the use of data by organizations for business requirements was beginning to get widely adopted, I realized that the biggest threat to a full-scale digital transformation would be the security of sensitive data. Securing the data privacy and security of every organization and solving these data security challenges laid the foundation for the formation of Mage™ (then MENTIS) in 2004. Our data security platform was built based on 20+ years of experience and research on security vulnerabilities and solutions. It was received with resoundingly positive feedback by prospects and customers alike. With a vision of enabling a seamless solution offering and service to companies across the globe, we set up the operational base for Mage in India in 2014.

Over the years, Mage has cemented its presence on the global map as one of the forerunners of data security and privacy solutions. A testament to this also comes in the form of industry awards, with Mage receiving the Customer’s Choice award consecutively for the last two years. Today, Mage stands out in the market with its differentiated products that provide an integrated end-to-end platform enterprise solution that is strongly positioned to reimagine data privacy and security for enterprises.

Can you introduce us to your data privacy solutions? What are their key features?

The Mage Platform provides data security solutions across the lifecycle of sensitive data right from the time of its creation till its retirement from the data store. Our solutions can discover data, anonymize it in production and non-production environments, monitor activity within the data store, and finally retire and tokenize inactive sensitive data. These capabilities can be used to solve a host of various use cases in the privacy and security space that include:

  • Test data management
  • Database security
  • Cloud migration
  • Achieving regulatory compliance
  • Enabling secure analytics on data
  • Implementing attribute-based access control mechanisms

All these solution capabilities can be implemented within a single platform seamlessly with utmost ease.

In your opinion, what data privacy issues should more people be concerned about?

A primary concern for people should be the use of data for services that they have not opted for. For example, if an individual authorizes a bank to use their data for savings account services, the bank should not be using that data to sell additional products like loans, credit cards, etc.

It’s an individual’s personal data that is being monetized. Whenever anything is free, the individual ends up being the product. It’s time we start treating our personal data as private information that should be shared only when required and which is deleted once the specific task is completed.

From an organization’s point of view, we live in a world where data is key to supporting innovation and unlocking different products or services required by people across the globe. Today there are different ways how organizations can derive insights from data without compromising its security or privacy, which has gained utmost importance.

Many organizations across the world are suffering because of the increasing frequency and potency of data breaches, both internally and externally. This not only leads to bad press but also attracts huge regulatory fines through the privacy laws and regulations being adopted by countries worldwide.

How do you think the current global events are going to affect the way cybersecurity is perceived by the general public?

There is a slow but steady increase in the awareness of data security in the minds of the general public. Privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA have been at the forefront of the news when it comes to ensuring data privacy and security. However, there is still a long way to go, and companies need to inculcate a culture of securing data across their enterprise data landscape. Today, I can see people reading the check-box clauses twice before submitting any form. This shows that there is awareness amongst the public as to what it is that they are providing their consent for.

In your opinion, why do certain companies still fail to keep up with compliance and other security standards?

Complying with the standards set by the regulators requires consistent effort and periodic reviews. While there are outliers to this, most companies employ data security practices merely as a tick-in-the-box solution. Data security for one cannot be a one-time job. Security and compliance standards keep evolving, and regulators keep raising the bar for data security to ensure that data remains secure. Keeping up with such stringent standards requires inculcating them within the very DNA of the organization. Ensuring the security and privacy of data is not a good-to-have but a must-have practice. So, not having a robust data security approach within the company should ideally be ringing alarm bells for the management.

What risks can customers be exposed to if a company they trust struggles to ensure compliance?

Misuse of their personal data is the biggest risk that customers face when a company they trust fails to ensure compliance, thereby failing to secure their personal information. Breach of personal data has extraordinary ramifications depending on the classification of data that has been breached. It can range from simple prank calls to serious identity thefts that can result in financial losses to the customer.

What security tools or practices should users adopt to protect themselves online?

Research has found that phishing contributes to the greatest number of data breaches, and to prevent this, people should always be aware of their online activity and what links they click. An individual who is completely aware of what they are doing online can greatly reduce the risk of inadvertent data loss due to phishing and visiting other malicious links. Security tools are present only to aid individuals in this endeavor, and no tool can completely secure or mitigate the loss of data. Tools help in reducing the impact of a breach and can never guarantee immunity from a data breach.

Talking about the future, what predictions do you have for the data security landscape for the upcoming years?

The data security landscape is evolving at a fast pace, and there is a lot of research that states it's just going to keep growing. Gartner, for example, predicts that data security solutions are now consolidating into data security platforms – a single solution that can ensure the security of data across its different states (at-rest, in-transit, in-use) and use cases. The increasing adoption of the Cloud is also fuelling the rise of data security. As a vendor in the data privacy and data security space, it is an exciting time for us, and the future looks to be full of new opportunities and challenges. Avenues such as cloud security, privacy-enhancing technologies, and dynamic data masking are abundant for us to develop innovative solutions and assist organizations in championing their data security initiatives.

And finally, what’s next for Mage?

Mage has just come out of a two-year transformation period, and the organization is primed and ready to address the evolving needs of the privacy and security market. By strengthening the product suite to cover more data stores and establishing strategic partnerships with vendors in adjacent areas and markets, Mage is looking to holistically develop its product portfolio to become the single preferred vendor for organizations looking to have robust data privacy and security solutions,

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