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What Is Data at Rest?

The term “data at rest” is used often in IT, and it refers to the current status or location of data, not the type of data. In this article, the focus will be on understanding the concept of data at rest, its comparisons with other forms of data, and the importance of securing this kind of data.

What is data at rest?

Data at rest describes data that is not actively moving from endpoint to endpoint or network to network such as data stored on a hard drive, laptop, flash drive, or archived/stored in some other way. It is the opposite of data that is in motion, or data that is actively being processed.

Data at rest vs. data in transit vs. data in use

Before going further, it is essential to understand the differences between data at rest, data in transit, and data in use.

  • Data at Rest: This refers to data that is stored on physical or digital mediums and is not actively being used or moved around.
  • Data in Transit: This is data that is actively being moved from one location to another such as across the internet or through a private network.
  • Data in Use: This is data that is currently being created, updated, erased, or accessed.

Examples of data at rest

To better understand the concept, here are some examples of data at rest:

Hard drives

Data stored on a computer’s hard drive when it is powered off could be considered data at rest. The data is not being used, changed, or transmitted anywhere.

Archived files

Files that have been compressed and archived for long-term storage are also considered data at rest. They are not in use until someone retrieves them for review or editing.

Backup tapes

Backup tapes store copies of data in case the original data is lost or damaged. Until these tapes are loaded into a system to restore data, they are considered data at rest.

Reasons to secure data at rest

Now that we understand what data at rest is, here are some reasons why it’s important to secure it:

  • Preventing unauthorized access

When data is at rest, it is more vulnerable to unauthorized access because it is not being actively monitored or used.

  • Compliance with regulations

Many industries have regulations that require companies to protect sensitive information and implement compliance management, even when the data is at rest.

  • Protecting company reputation

A data breach can damage a company’s reputation, leading to loss of customers and revenue.

Best practices for securing data at rest

Securing data at rest involves multiple strategies, including:

  • Encryption

Encrypting data transforms it into a cipher that can only be deciphered with the correct key.

  • Access controls

Implementing stringent access controls can help ensure that only authorized individuals can access data at rest.

  • Regular audits

Regularly auditing data security measures can help identify any potential weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

Summary

Data at rest is one of the stages data goes through on its journey to the users or viewers. By implementing strategic security measures, companies can protect sensitive information, comply with industry regulations, and maintain their reputation. Ensuring the security of data at rest should be a priority for all businesses, regardless of size or industry.

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