Data Loss Prevention Best Practices

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Think of your organization as an amoeba encased in a thin membrane. Sensitive data flows through your network membrane to partners, customers, vendors, and authenticated users. Occasionally, however, the membrane may become too porous, and critical data may leak to unauthorized entities. Companies without data loss prevention best practices struggle to keep their information secure. Employees use multiple communication channels to send personally identifiable information (PII) including financial data, medical records, social security numbers, credit cards, and other data types, including authorized and unauthorized channels as well as remote locations. These channels may include email, texting, instant messaging apps, collaboration tools, shared online folders, and social media. Moreover, employees keep valuable information in various places, including their desktops, notebooks, file servers, mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones, the cloud storage, legacy databases, and more. As a result, it is difficult to know what information is leaving the company and take measures to protect data effectively. Preventing security incidents can be a problem if you don’t know what data is being lost and how it is making its way off your premises. Protecting sensitive information from loss and misuse is easier with a data management and data loss prevention program (DLP). Your DLP policy must be crafted and implemented with great care whether you are looking to protect customer, corporate data, or intellectual property. The consequences of not doing so could be devastating for your business processes and can cause compliance issues. A leaky membrane can be fatal.

What is DLP?

A DLP policy defines how organizations can share and protect information. It guides how data can be used in decision making without it being exposed to anyone who should not have access to it.

Data Loss Prevention begins with the detection of possible vulnerabilities or the actual transmission of sensitive information. DLP aims to prevent the unauthorized movement of data by monitoring confidential organizational data while at rest (data storage), in use (endpoint activity), and in motion (network traffic). The term Data Leakage Prevention is closely affiliated with Data Loss Prevention. DLP solution providers may use Data Loss Prevention and Data Leak Prevention interchangeably. Starting a DLP program can be challenging. Establishing a few key tactics, however, is essential to ensure long-term success. The following are samples of the critical best practices to protect your data.

Assign User Roles

DLP helps organizations prevent the unintentional or accidental sharing of sensitive information. The first step in implementing DLP is to fully understand the tasks and responsibilities of every person working in the company who handles confidential data. Rank Secure CEO Baruch Labunski explains: “A DLP strategy involves many things but some of the best practices include identifying those in the company hierarchy and what their responsibilities or roles are within the DLP policies. You need to determine who creates policy, who makes revisions to it, and who implements it.” Breaches can be prevented by using the principle of least privilege, in which each user is entitled only to the information they need to do their jobs. In addition to assigning roles, using anomaly detection tools that utilize machine learning and behavioral analytics to identify abnormal user behavior can help with detecting suspicious activity more accurately.

Assess Internal Resources

To develop and implement DLP plans, organizations need knowledgeable personnel—someone who can analyze data leakage risks, report data breaches, and provide DLP awareness and training. Certain government regulations (such as GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS etc.) require many organizations to either train employees in the skills of data protection or hire external consultants with expertise in dlp tools and strategies.

Categorize Sensitive Data

Defining company information clearly is crucial. Certain data categories will be more sensitive and important than others. In order to identify and classify sensitive data, you should start with scanning your organization from top to bottom and side to side using data discovery technology. All of the information you identify should be organized according to its importance classifying the structured and unstructured data. You can then prioritize your business’s needs based on data importance and make your risk management program more efficient by indentifying sensitive and nonsensitive data. Sensitive information is your crown jewel—it can make or break your organization, and it should be treated as such.

Implement in Phases

In order to maximize DLP effectiveness, it is best to use a phased implementation approach. Prioritize types of information and communication channels that will be targeted first to prevent the temptation to try to “boil the ocean.” Additionally, organizations may want to choose to implement DLP software components or modules as they are required, in priority order, as opposed to deploying a comprehensive DLP program all at one time. By analyzing the data security risks and inventorying the information, these priorities can be established.

Poor DLP Strategies Are Risky

As you consider the advantages of a successful data protection strategies, don’t forget to also take into account the risks. According to cybersecurity company PurpleSec, a data breach costs an average of $3.86 Million to every victimized business. In addition to substantial monetary damages, a successful breach may also severely tarnish the reputation of a company. This type of disaster can be prevented by having a solid data loss prevention policy in place.

Final Thoughts

Today, most data breaches occur through emails. Therefore, incorporating DLP into your email system is essential to secure sensitive data. Trustifi’s Outbound Shield is an ideal email security solution for preventing data leaks and losses in small and midsize companies. Adding a reliable security solution to your company’s systems to support and strengthen your existing DLP best practices is easy and affordable. Contact a Trustifi security consultant today to see a free demo of the Trustifi DLP solution and learn how Trustifi can help you encrypt data and prevent disastrous scenarios.