In an era where data is the new oil, safeguarding this invaluable resource is paramount for businesses. As organisations increasingly rely on digital platforms to collect and store sensitive information, the focus on data loss prevention (DLP) has never been more critical.
Data loss, whether due to breaches or insider theft, can severely tarnish a company’s reputation and deter users from engaging with its products. According to one report, 77% of companies are woefully ill-prepared and planned when thwarting an attack or a data breach.
Before diving into the technological aspects of DLP, it’s crucial to establish a robust data loss prevention policy. This policy is the bedrock upon which all other data protection measures are built. It should outline what constitutes confidential data and how to safeguard it. Even the most advanced software solutions will be ineffective without a well-defined policy.
What to include in a data loss prevention (DLP) strategy
Identify your data
The first step in any DLP strategy is identifying and classifying your data. You can’t protect what you don’t know exists. Data classification software can assist in this process, scanning your systems to identify the types of data you possess and recommending appropriate classifications.
Implement strict access controls
Access control is a straightforward yet effective DLP measure. Limiting who can access what data is essential for minimising the risk of data theft. For instance, an SEO analyst likely has no business perusing the company’s financial records. Crafting strict access controls is integral to a robust DLP policy and doesn’t require expensive technology.
Educate and train employees
The human element often poses the most significant security risk. In fact, according to IBM, human error accounts for over 95% of all data breaches. Simple phishing attacks can be remarkably effective because people make mistakes. To mitigate this, educating employees about the organisation’s DLP policies and providing regular training on security threats is vital. An informed workforce is less likely to make errors that could impact security.
Monitor and refine security policies
The threat landscape is ever-changing, necessitating regular updates to your DLP policy. Any changes should be well-documented and communicated to all employees to ensure proper implementation. Monitoring the effectiveness of your DLP measures is equally important, providing insights that can be used to refine your approach.
Utilise data encryption
Encrypting data at rest and in transit adds an extra layer of security. Tools like BitLocker and Encrypting File System make this process relatively straightforward. Hardware-based encryption is another option, depending on your specific needs.
System security is another cornerstone of effective DLP. This involves removing unnecessary services and applications that could pose security risks. Employees should be provided with a baseline operating system image, with additional services enabled only as required for their roles.
Monitor sensitive data
Monitoring is crucial for effective DLP. Security administrators should have a clear view of who has access to what data and when it is accessed. Good DLP software will provide real-time alerts for deviations from established behavioural baselines.
Ensure everything is up-to-date
Keeping all systems up-to-date is essential for security. This includes operating systems, applications, and firmware. While updates are often rolled out automatically, verifying that all systems are current is crucial to prevent exploitation of any security vulnerabilities.
While software and hardware tools play a significant role in DLP, the most effective measures often involve strong internal policies and employee engagement. Crafting a robust DLP policy and fostering a culture of security within the organisation are the most effective ways to protect your data assets. If you’re looking for help building, scaling, and managing your web or mobile apps, contact the software developers at Zudu.