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App Development
6 minutes read

Data Loss Prevention Best Practices 

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
6 minutes read

As organizations rely on digital solutions to collect and store sensitive data, they must prioritize data loss prevention (DLP). Data loss from data breaches or insider theft can significantly damage your company’s reputation and drive users away from your products. 

There are a host of software and hardware DLP solutions that can help your business protect and track confidential data, like personally identifiable information, in real time. 

While technology solutions play a critical role in data security, sensitive data loss often does not result from a lack of data protection technologies. Unfortunately, the greatest threat to data security is the human element, whether through intentional theft or usage errors. 

As a result, data loss prevention strategies need to involve more than just purchasing and installing the best software. This post will examine data loss prevention best practices so your business can protect critical data and prevent data loss. 

Data Loss Prevention Strategies Your Business Should Utilize 

Before your business can implement technologies and strategies to prevent data breaches and protect sensitive information, crafting a data loss prevention policy is vital. Data loss prevention policies should cover what data is considered confidential and how it should be protected. 

A robust data loss prevention policy is the foundation of data protection. Using the best software and hardware will only do your organization so much good if it does not have a solid data loss prevention policy in place.

Considering that, let’s look at the most critical components of any data loss prevention strategy. You’ll notice that most data loss prevention (DLP) relies on the policies your business implements. 

Identify and Classify Sensitive Data 

You cannot protect data that you don’t know that you have. Data classification is an integral part of data loss prevention (DLP). Once you know what type of data you have, you can decide which data should be classified

Data discovery and classification software can make it easy for your business to determine what types of data it has and where it is stored. These software solutions will also typically recommend whether or not the data discovered should be classified. 

Implement Strict Access Controls 

One of the simplest ways to prevent data loss is to restrict access to sensitive data. For example, does the organization’s SEO analyst need access to the company’s financial data? The answer is likely no. 

Data theft is one of the main ways businesses lose their most critical data, like intellectual property. Too often, businesses allow unnecessary data access to employees. If the sensitive data is not vital to an employee’s role or daily tasks, they should not have access to it. 

Crafting strict access controls is part of developing a robust data loss prevention policy. You don’t need expensive software and hardware to decide which employees can access which data. However, software can definitely make this step easier.

Whether you use technology or not, it’s essential to read best practices for user access review to ensure you implement your protocols correctly. A small hole in your security can cause major and, sometimes, irreversible damage down the line.

Educate and Train Employees 

Human error is, more often than not, the cause of sensitive data loss. Cyber attackers know that people make mistakes, so simple phishing attacks are effective. How do you reduce the threat posed by internal human error? Education and training. 

First, communicating the organization’s data loss prevention policy with all employees is vital. When everyone understands the policies and the risks, they tend to act more responsibly. In addition, regularly training and educating employees on the latest security risks and threats is essential. 

When information and knowledge are shared internally among your employees, and they understand the security stakes, you create a strong security culture that reduces the risk of human error leading to a security breach. 

Monitor and Regularly Refine Security Policies 

While developing strong data loss security policies is vital, monitoring and refining them as you go is also important. Things change, and with the ever-evolving threat landscape that businesses face, data security policies must be refined to meet new challenges. 

When changes to security policies are made, they must be thoroughly documented and communicated to employees to ensure that they are implemented appropriately. As we have already covered, employee engagement with security policies is critical to their ultimate success. 

Utilize Data Encryption 

Data encryption is a simple but effective way to protect sensitive data while at rest in organizational servers and in transit. Mobile devices and other portable devices should utilize encrypted disk solutions if they hold sensitive data. 

Several easy-to-use encryption tools exist, including BitLocker and Encrypting File System (EFS). Your organization can also utilize hardware-based encryption, depending on the hardware being used. 

Secure Your Systems

Secure your operating systems by removing unnecessary services or applications that could create security vulnerabilities. In addition, don’t store any unnecessary data that can create false positive results in DLP software. 

Your employees should be given a baseline image of the underlying operating system. Additional applications and services should only be enabled when necessary for daily tasks. 

Monitor Sensitive Data 

All of your organization’s sensitive data should be monitored to ensure that it is protected. Not only should your security admins be able to see which employees have access to specific data, but they should also be able to see who is accessing data, at what time, and from where. 

Anytime your organization’s critical data is accessed, a log should be created. This enables admins to monitor who is accessing data and have detailed records of when data is moved, destroyed, or modified. 

In addition, good DLP software will notify admins in real time when user behavior with data deviates from the established baseline. 

Ensure Everything is Updated 

Keeping all systems updated with the latest versions is vital to preventing cyber attacks. Operating systems, applications, firmware, etc., should always be up-to-date with the latest release version. 

Generally, updates are rolled out automatically, but it is crucial to ensure that your systems and hardware are updated promptly to prevent cyber attackers from exploiting security vulnerabilities. 

Final Thoughts 

Data loss prevention is aided by software and hardware tools, but the most effective data loss prevention tools are strong internal policies and employee engagement. 

To secure your organization’s information effectively, you must craft strong policies and foster an internal culture promoting security. 

If you want to learn more about data loss prevention best practices, contact an experienced data security partner like Koombea

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