Data loss poses a serious threat to businesses of all sizes. Statista reported that over 155.8 million people were affected by data loss in 2020. These data breaches can lead to millions of dollars in fines and irreparable damage to business reputations. While many organisations have implemented a security solution, it’s not enough for businesses to have one.
What businesses need is a DLP(Data Loss Prevention) Assessment and a Service Level Agreement with their DLP solution that ensures the protection, detection, and recovery of any lost data is guaranteed. In this guide, we share a series of best practices and strategies that you can implement beginning today to protect your company from losing sensitive data and ensure you can minimise the impact on your business.
What Is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?
The best way to understand DLP is by breaking it down into its components. Data is the information that an organisation collects, creates, and uses to conduct business. Data can be in many forms: numbers, words, images, etc. It can be found in databases and data warehouses and on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
Loss refers to the unauthorised sharing or use of data outside the organisation. Data loss occurs when an employee sends sensitive information to an unauthorised party, such as a competitor or the media. It also occurs if an employee loses or has their device stolen while travelling or working at home.
Prevention is how security professionals keep data safe from loss and misuse. A prevention strategy requires employees to follow several policies, and it also requires technology solutions that enforce those rules. Data Loss Prevention is a strategy that protects data while it’s in motion, at rest, and in use. It uses a combination of technologies that can be implemented in hardware, software, or both to monitor your systems and networks for sensitive data, prevent unauthorised users from gaining access to it and notify you about potential threats.
Some Data Loss Prevention Best Practices & Strategies
To fully benefit from an enterprise DLP solution, you’ll need to implement the right strategies and best practices. We’ve compiled six strategies to help you get started.
Know What You’re Protecting
Before anything else, you need to know what kind of information your organisation is putting at risk. Is it intellectual property or government-classified data? Do you store personally identifiable information or financial details? Whatever the case may be, identify the most sensitive data in your organisation, and then learn how to protect this data.
Terminate User Access When Necessary
One of the biggest risks for any company is a disgruntled employee. Employees are responsible for much of the data theft out there today — whether intentional or not — so you need to watch how they interact with sensitive information. If someone leaves the company or changes departments, they immediately terminate their access to all of that data.
Protect your perimeter with firewalls and SIEM tools.
A firewall is the first line of defence against malicious attackers trying to access your network. They work by examining incoming packets and allowing or disallowing them based on your specific rules. Firewalls typically reside between the network that connects your internal devices and the Internet (also called the “Internet-facing network”).
A Second Opinion Security Information Event Management (SIEM) tool helps detect suspicious activity within your environment by collecting log events from multiple locations and devices, including firewalls, into a single repository. The SIEM analyzes these events for security incidents continuously and reports them accordingly. Also, it can be configured to alert you in real-time when something is happening so you can take action immediately.
For your most important assets, you’ll want to educate employees about the importance of handling them securely. While your policy may dictate that only certain employees can access certain types of data, other personnel should also understand what kind of information they’re dealing with to follow best practices for handling it — even if they aren’t directly involved in sensitive operations.
Enforce Access Controls
Access controls are often central to DLP strategies because they dictate who can use an asset or application and how they can use it. In the event of a data breach or incident, access controls are the first line of defence in preventing unauthorised individuals from gaining access to sensitive information.
Set up data loss monitoring systems and use data discovery tools
Data loss monitoring systems are automated tools that continuously monitor organisational systems and networks for abnormal behaviour related to data loss activities or events. These tools are especially useful in identifying insider threats because they can identify unusual activity patterns related to individuals accessing sensitive systems and applications.
Data discovery tools are vital for DLP because they allow security teams to identify sensitive data across all systems and applications within the organisation. Other DLP features can be implemented to protect this data as needed.
You do not have to live in fear of data loss. With the proper precautions, you can prevent the loss of customer and employee information, intellectual property, and more. The key, of course, is to develop a comprehensive data loss prevention plan. Each organisation is unique, so your data loss prevention plan should also be. But when those plans are developed with the help of expert guidance, there’s no reason to believe that any company can’t protect its valuable customer and employee information.