Blog: Data & Compliance in the Age of AI
Data Security & Compliance

in the age of AI

Navigating Data Security in the Age of AI

In today’s fast-evolving world of Artificial Intelligence, mastering data security and compliance is essential for organizations committed to achieving resilience and success. A 2019 Forrester Research report found that 80% of cybersecurity decision-makers expected AI to increase the scale and speed of attack and 66% expected AI to “conduct attacks that no human could ever conceive of.” It is not just about protecting sensitive information and staying ahead of evolving cyber threats; it is also about building the trust and reliability between AI systems like Copilot and the users to ensure the responsible handling of data and the respect of user privacy.

Securing Identity and Access

Permissions are the settings that control the access and actions of users and apps on Microsoft devices and services. For example, an HR department can assign user and group permissions to specific HR documents. All members of the organization can access the yearly pay schedule, but only members of the HR department can access and edit individual payroll statements. And only the head of HR has control of documents concerning sensitive employee information, such as social security numbers.

50%+

of permissions are high-risk and can cause catastrophic damage.

While AI plays a crucial role in managing data access and system permissions by providing greater insights into access patterns and user behaviors, it is still vulnerable to high-risk permissions.

High-risk permissions can pose significant security threats to an organization, the most significant risk being data exposure. If a malicious actor gains control over an account with high-risk permissions, they can exploit this access and exfiltrate sensitive data, modify files, or even wipe out entire system filled with critical information. These permissions also often grant broad access to sensitive resources, such as user data, files, or databases that otherwise should not be available to that user.

Securing Devices and Endpoints

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers to the IT policy outlining when and how employees can use their personal devices, such as phones and laptops, on the company’s network, to access company data, and to perform their job duties. Depending on the policy, this enables employees to use their personal devices to perform work-related activities instead of solely using company issued devices.

Many threats can occur with unsecured BYO devices, mostly concerning compromised data. For instance, if an employee uses their personal laptop to write contract proposals for a military contractor and then leaves their computer at a coffee shop, they run the severe risk of someone taking the laptop and having access to sensitive or even confidential military information. BYO devices are vulnerable to phishing attacks, fraudulent messages designed to steal sensitive data by having people reveal their personal information, and malware attacks from unsecure apps on their devices.

Secure Data

Generative AI is artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, graphics, or other data in response to user prompts. As more organizations continue to embrace generative AI applications in all aspects of their operations, it is important to understand the security measures put in place to ensure safe and responsible use, especially with generative AI programs. This means understanding how the applications are being used and protecting both the data being used in the prompts and the data in the program’s outcome or response.

80%

of employees use non-sanctioned apps that no one had reviewed

Secure AI

Application Use As AI systems are often entrusted with sensitive data and critical tasks, they become attractive targets for cybercriminals. The complexity of AI models, coupled with their opaque nature, can lead to vulnerabilities that malicious actors can exploit. Furthermore, the lack of standardized security protocols for AI applications exacerbates the problem. Therefore, it is imperative to prioritize the development and implementation of robust security measures in AI applications to safeguard against potential threats and ensure their secure use. This includes rigorous testing, continuous monitoring, and the incorporation of security principles right from the design phase of AI systems. The goal is to create a secure AI ecosystem where the benefits of AI can be leveraged without compromising on security.

Monitor overprivileged and risky users in real-time

Enable conditional access (either per user or group member), IP location, device state (how freely software can be flashed to a device and whether verification is enforced), application permissions (used to govern what an app is allowed to do and access), and risk detection on all your organization’s devices. You should also monitor critical events and issue access tokens that can be evoked immediately should the need arise. Access tokens represent the authorization of a specific application to access specific parts of a user’s data. You can think of them as the temporary passes an individual received when they enter a restricted building. A general contractor working on a maintenance project would be granted a temporary pass that grants them entry to the building’s maintenance rooms while a reporter doing a piece for a company within the building would only receive a temporary pass that grants them access to that specific office space.

Mitigate risk of personal or unmanaged devices

Ensure the secure installation of Microsoft 365 apps on your users’ devices. You can limit the use of work apps, including Copilot, on personal devices, such as phones or laptops. You can also limit the actions users can take on their personal devices. For example, an employee can read their Teams messages and notifications on their personal phone, but they can only download and open documents on a secure, approved device.

Govern data seamlessly and prevent data loss

We recommend automating the security labeling of sensitive documents and putting infrastructure in place to ensure data loss prevention of sensitive data. Maintain logs of all Copilot interactions to meet compliance requirements. You can also reduce obsolete insights, information that is no longer accurate or no longer in use, by removing inactive data.

Preparing your data for Microsoft Copilot

Ensuring your data is ready for Copilot is critical to effectively and safely leveraging Microsoft’s native AI. Microsoft Copilot is designed to help users surface all data they have access to, which means it’s important to ensure you have permissions limited within your organization. Content management is the key to safely leveraging Copilot while maintaining security. Read our blog, Getting Ready for Copilot, to learn how you can ensure your data is ready for you to get the most out of Copilot while maintaining compliance and security.

Protect and respond to risks across all AI applications

Discover and assess the risks across AI apps in your organization. Then block or approve the use of the discovered apps.

At FSi Strategies, we are proud to hold the Microsoft Solutions Partner designations for Modern Work and Security. This recognition underscores our commitment to implementing cutting-edge solutions that enhance productivity and safeguard data. We have been at the forefront of helping organizations leverage Microsoft’s AI capabilities, driving digital transformation and fostering innovation. Our expertise in Microsoft’s AI solutions empowers businesses to unlock new opportunities and achieve their strategic objectives.

To learn more about how your organization can prepare, optimize data, enhance security, and develop best practices for Copilot, download a free copy of our OnDemand Webinar, FSi Protect: Modern Security for Modern Work, or reach out to us today.

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