08 February 2022
What Is Data Loss Prevention?
Having a DLP policy in your business is essential. In this blog, we explore what data loss prevention is and why it’s important to have a DLP policy in your organisation.
We all know that data (especially corporate data) has become a hot commodity for cybercriminals. If your business doesn't have a proper data loss prevention (DLP) strategy in place, sensitive data like your intellectual property and personal information (e.g., payment card information, Social Security numbers and health records) are at risk of being lost, stolen, or misused by attackers.
With today’s complex world and the rise of cyberattacks targeting small, medium, and large organisations, DLP has never been more important and now needs to be taken seriously by all of us.
What is data loss prevention?
Data loss prevention is a set of tools and best practices that an organisation uses to keep sensitive data from being lost, stolen, or misused by unauthorised users, often cyber criminals. Although DLP is commonly used to protect the organisation from external threats, it’s often the internal threats from your own employees, that can lead to large scale sensitive data breaches.
Not all data breaches are sinister, some are simply through human error, or a lack of basic cyber security understanding. Therefore, Askaris believe that an essential part of your data loss prevention policy is not only to employ trustworthy employees (which is not always easy to do), but to ensure that as an organisation, you provide basic cyber and DLP training to educate employees on best practices.
We often classify data into categories such as data at rest, data in motion, and data in use.
Data at rest is information stored in the cloud, on a hard drive, or by another method.
Data in motion is information moving between two points, such as emailed files.
Data in use is information an employee is actively accessing or using, whether on premise or remotely.
Why do companies need DLP?
Every organisation, regardless of size, needs some type of data loss prevention to protect them from costly breaches and should prioritise data loss prevention in their cyber budgets. With cyber-attacks on the rise across all sectors and business sizes, it is especially important for small businesses to invest in data prevention loss as much as the big corporations. Smaller organisations can often be lead to think that they do not need DLP, and that they are not a target for cyber criminals, but this way of thinking its more often than not, what leads to a data breach.
We know that small and medium-sized business (SMB’s) are the most vulnerable because they typically do not have the infrastructure to prevent unauthorised use, and they can be taken offline for days, weeks and even months, which can lead to not only the loss of valuable information, but sometimes even bankruptcy.
What are some of the causes of data loss?
Both internal and external threats commonly cause data loss. You can reduce these threats with a strong data loss prevention solution and defined policy.
Confidential data can be lost through external threats like phishing or malicious cyberattacks. Data is a large asset to cybercriminals, and if your data ends up in the wrong hands, it could mean the end of your business.
Cyber criminals rarely strong-arm their way into your database, but instead they take advantage of your lax security practices and pray on human error from your employees. An example of this could be if they gain access by exploiting weak passwords from internal users or by impersonating someone high up in your organisation, like the CEO.
Poor password management and generally weak passwords such as password12345 are often the cause of external malicious intent, where a user or party of users gain access to another employee’s computer to exploit. When a malicious party gain access to a business's internal network, it can often be too late.
Outsiders are not the only potential threats to your data security. Although you may trust your employees, data loss stemming from an internal source is more common than you might think. An insider threat may come from an employee, former employee, contractor, or business associate attempting to maliciously misuse critical data. A data breach can also occur from an employee accidentally downloading malware through an email link.
Types of data loss prevention solutions
The type of data loss prevention solutions you should develop for your business can depend greatly on how and where your data is stored. Here are three major types of data loss prevention solutions that Askaris can support within your organisation:
Cloud DLP solutions protect sensitive information stored on hard drives, flash drives and other physical media. With remote work on the rise and more applications, such as employee monitoring software, relying on cloud-based methods of sharing, and storing data, these best practices for cloud DLP can become risky. We recommend that you:
Determine precisely what data is stored in the cloud, its purpose, and how often it needs to be accessed.
Define user groups so only certain information can be accessed by designated individuals.
Use encryption tools and other services designed to protect data in the cloud.
Enterprise DLP solutions focus on the protection of all data across your organisations entire network, for as many departments or individuals that need to access it. This type of system is typically best for large organisations. Enterprise DLP solutions often need to consider multiple security clearances, many software platforms in use, and a greater number of individuals who may accidentally play a part in a data breach. These are some general best practices for developing an enterprise DLP:
Centralise DLP efforts and standardise them throughout your enterprise.
Clearly define who gets to access which data sets and how much they can see.
Enforce policies consistently throughout the enterprise.
Network DLP Network DLP solutions focus on securing methods of communication between employees, or between employees and clients. This involves the security of file transfer protocol (FTP) networks, emails, phone calls, text messages, and any other information communicated across networks in your company. Consider these solutions for network DLP:
Only allow certain information to be transferred on company-owned networks.
Use enhanced network security protocol to best protect sensitive data
Encrypt access to the company network.
How to prevent data loss
As an organisation, you can take several steps to create an effective DLP strategy and prevent data leakage. Although some companies will need stricter protocols to protect their data, every organisation should at least implement the following measures.
Install data loss prevention software and tools.
The right set of DLP technology and tools for your business depends on the type of data you need to protect, and there is a good chance you will need a combination of multiple tools. At the very least, your DLP system should include standard security measures like antivirus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to protect against internal and external attacks. We recommend Endpoint Protector by CoSoSys, which is an industry-leading cross-platform DLP solution designed to discover, monitor, and protect your sensitive data with Endpoint Protector, its advanced multi-OS data loss prevention solution.
2. Organise documents with restricted permissions.
Proper storage of physical and digital documents is an essential part of any DLP system. You need to create a system for how you will organise and store documents so that employees understand where and how to find important information. Set user restrictions on any sensitive or confidential information.
3. If your organisation has multiple layers of access criteria, such as the HR Director, who will need access to all employees’ files, then you need effective folder access policies in your organisation. Always ask yourself, do your users need to have access to all folders?
4. Enforce strict password protocols.
Since external threats typically exploit organisations cybersecurity weaknesses to gain unauthorised access to data, it is important for your entire organisation to follow best password-protection practices as part of your DLP strategy. This is especially vital for any documents that contain sensitive or confidential data. We recommend that you encourage and train everyone in your organisation to use complex passwords with multifactor authentication, and they should regularly change their passwords. Some other security measures to consider are IP address permissions and time restrictions are also wise.
5. Train your employees on cybersecurity best practices.
You can have all the right DLP software and policies in place, but it will ultimately be useless without the proper employee education. Train your employees frequently on your DLP policy and cybersecurity best practices to avoid data breach incidents’. Additionally, perform a regular audit on your DLP policy to ensure you are up to date with security concerns and regulations.
Askaris work with industry leading data loss partners, to give our customers the best defence against sensitive data loss across their organisations. Want to learn more about protecting your organisation from data loss? Click here to get in touch.
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