What is data fabric and how does it impact Cybersecurity?

April 12, 2022  |  Nahla Davies

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Amidst sweeping digital transformation across the globe, numerous organizations have been seeking a better way to manage data. Still in the beginning stages of adoption, data fabric provides many possibilities as an integrated layer that unifies data from across endpoints. 

A combination of factors has created a digital environment where data is stored in several places at once, leaving cracks in security for fraudsters to take advantage of. Cybercrime has reached historic highs, with vulnerabilities that affect crucial industries such as healthcare, eCommerce, and manufacturing. 

Data fabric works like a needle and thread, stitching each business resource together as an interconnected data system that feeds data into one large connector. When each application is connected to every other part of your system, data silos are broken, allowing for complete transparency in the cloud or a hybrid approach. 

What is data fabric? How does it work? And how does data fabric impact cybersecurity? Let’s dive in. 

What is data fabric?

Data fabric is a modern data design concept to better integrate and connect processes across various resources and endpoints. Data fabric can continuously analyze assets to support the design and deployment of reusable data across all environments. 

By utilizing both human and machine capabilities, data fabric identifies and connects disparate data. This supports faster decision-making, re-engineering optimization, and enhanced data management practices.

For example, you could think of data fabric as a passive data observer that only acts when it encounters assets that need to be managed. Based on its specific implementation, data fabrics can automatically govern data and make suggestions for data alternatives. Both humans and machines work together to unify data and improve efficiency overall. 

How does it work?

Data fabric architecture provides strategic security and business advantages for companies and organizations. To better understand how data fabric works, let’s go over the six different layers of data fabric:

  • Data management — This layer is responsible for data security and governance. 
  • Data ingestion — This layer finds connections between structured and unstructured. 
  • Data processing — This layer refines data for accurate and relevant extraction.
  • Data orchestration — This layer makes data usable for teams by transforming, integrating, and cleansing the data. 
  • Data discovery — This layer precipitates new opportunities to integrate and develop insights from disparate data sources. 
  • Data access — Finally, this layer ensures that permissions and compliance conditions are met and allows access through virtual dashboards. 

This integrative and layered approach to data management helps protect organizations against the most prevalent attack types such as client-side, supply chain, business app, and even automated attacks. 

Who can benefit from data fabrics?

Because data fabric use cases are still developing, there are potentially many unknown instances where data fabric can provide a security advantage for organizations. However, the possibilities are endless based on the data fabric’s ability to eliminate silos and integrate data across various sources. Data fabric can be implemented as an identity theft prevention strategy, to improve performance and everything in between.

Here are just a few specific use cases for data fabric architecture:

  • Customer profiles
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Business analysis
  • Risk models
  • Fraud detection

Advantages of data fabric architectures

Even in its early stages, data fabric has been shown to improve efficiency from workflows to product life cycles significantly. In addition to increasing business productivity, here are some other examples of how adopters can benefit from a data fabric architecture:

  1. Intelligent data integration

    Data fabric architectures use AI-powered tools to unify data across numerous endpoints and data types. With the help of metadata management, knowledge graphs, and machine learning, it makes data management easier than ever before. By automating data workloads, a data fabric architecture not only improves efficiency, but also eliminates siloed data, centralized data governance, and improves the quality of your business data. 

  2. Better data accessibility

    The centralized nature of data fabric systems makes accessing data from various endpoints fast and simple. Data bottlenecks are reduced since data permissions can be controlled from a centralized location despite users’ physical locations. And data access can easily be granted when necessary for use by engineers, developers, and analysts. Data fabric enables workers to make business decisions faster and allows teams to prioritize tasks from a holistic business perspective. 

  3. Improved data protection

    Possibly the most crucial aspect of implementing data fabric is that it improves your data security posture. You get the best of both worlds, broad data access, and improved data privacy. With more data governance and security guardrails in place with the help of a unified data fabric. Technical and data security teams can streamline encryption and data masking procedures while still having the ability to access data based on user permissions. 

Data fabric and cybersecurity

As a part of a robust cybersecurity ecosystem, data fabric acts as the foundation from which the entirety of your business data sets upon. When used correctly, data fabric makes business processes more efficient and improves data protection with the right defensive strategies built in. 

Because data fabric acts as a single source for all business data, there are many who wonder about its cybersecurity implications. In fact, most open source security vulnerabilities have a validated fix that must be patched. But many attackers take advantage of these entry points before organizations have time to update their software. 

Organizations using data fabric can also benefit from cybersecurity mesh to combine automation with a strategic security approach. Data mesh relies on the organizational structure to define data security needs so that the data fabric can more efficiently align with those needs. 

Gartner predicts that organizations that adopt a data fabric and cybersecurity mesh architecture will reduce the financial impact of data breaches by 90% by 2024. No other cybersecurity posture comes close to the security implications of data fabric across business applications. 

Data fabric is also essential to cybersecurity infrastructure because it requires that teams adopt a security-by-design outlook. With centralized data fabric built into your environment, organizations can greatly reduce their vulnerabilities and attack vectors from the inside out. 

Putting it all together

Data fabric provides organizations with a way to integrate data sources across platforms, users, and locations so that business data is available to those that need it when it is needed. While this does reduce data management issues, it raises important cybersecurity questions related to its centralized nature. 

However, data fabric and cybersecurity mesh work together to build integrated security controls that include encryption, compliance, virtual perimeter, and even real-time automatic vulnerability mitigation.

Now, stand-alone security solutions protecting numerous data sources can work together to improve security efforts overall. Data fabric is an essential aspect of a business-driven cyber strategy, especially for industries utilizing hybrid cloud setups, businesses struggling with disparate data, and an evolving cybersecurity landscape.

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