How to Prevent Data Loss – A Step-by-step Guide for Blocking Leaks
Data breaches have caused exposure of a staggering 4.1 billion records in just the first half of 2019.
As for 2020, the average cost per data breach has been $3.86 million, according to a report by the Ponemon Institute and IBM.
These numbers are telling, when it comes to not just the damage incurred by the loss of sensitive data, but the price organizations have to pay for lacking a robust data loss prevention strategy.
What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?
Data Loss Prevention or Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) is a strategy involving tools and processes that detect and prevent unauthorized access, misuse, destruction of critical or sensitive data.
DLP is of paramount importance for companies aiming to comply with regulations while keeping their data secure. A DLP software plays a crucial role in protecting data with unsurpassed accuracy and controlling data with one single policy.
Be it social media sites or cloud storage or personal emails, DLP tools prevent illicit data transfer by identifying violations of policies. Once you classify your organizational data into business-critical data, regulated data, and confidential data, a DLP software points out a violation of regulatory compliance such as GDPR, PCI-DSS, or HIPAA. Also, it makes it easier for you to monitor endpoint activities, filter data streams, protect data in motion, at rest, and in use.
What Can A DLP Software Monitor and Safeguard?
Being an important part of your cybersecurity plan, DLP tools increase your productivity while preventing data breaches via exfiltration or ransomware. With DLP tools in place, you can really ace the art of protecting Data in transit, use, and at rest.
Data in Transit: Data in Transit refers to the data that moves through an internal or external network. With a DLP tool in place, this data travels encrypted, thanks to encrypted transport protocols i.e. VPN or SSL.
Data in Use: Data in Use means the data in service or data being used by applications. This kind of protection encrypts sensitive data (for example, credit card numbers) and prohibits data storage to unauthorized locations such as social media networks, emails, or cloud storage.
Data at Rest: Data at Rest refers to archived data. With data at rest protection, your data remains encrypted in the database. You can turn on field encryption along with the table and database as well.
How to Prevent Data Loss – A Step-by-step Guide for Blocking Leaks
Did you know that 90% of all active DLP installations run ‘monitoring only’ mode?
Even though this enables organizations to identify data leakage, they are less likely to be able to take action with the help of DLP. This prevents a DLP solution from fulfilling what it was actually designed to do.
The reason behind DLP not being proactively deployed lies in the fact that DLP technology often triggers false alarms. These high false-positive rates often cause an employee to stop his work. However, that doesn’t mean you can use lower-false positives either. Chances are high that you will be getting false negatives and might miss data leakage instances with lower-false positives. This is why companies around the globe are emphasizing spending time training these solutions for each kind of confidential content. In this guide, there are 10 steps that help your business to prevent data loss efficiently.
Step 1: Does Your Business Need A DLP Solution?
The first and foremost question to ask is whether your business really needs a Data Loss Prevention solution. With advancements made in DLP solutions every day, you can probably get a better solution when you delay the implementation. However, that never means that you should put your business at risk. If you think your business is in dire need of a DLP solution, you should definitely get one. Here are some of the contexts to help you understand if your business needs a DLP solution right now:
You have no clue about the confidential data storage and who has access to it.
You need to protect your data from theft, accidental disclosure, and intruders.
You want to ensure compliance with regulations.
You would like to prevent threats caused by BYOD and IoT.
There is a need to ensure 360-degree monitoring for inappropriate employee conduct.
Step 2: What Type of Solution Do You Need?
The type of DLP solution required for your business depends on the problem you are facing. This is why it is crucial for you to figure out what exactly you are trying to address. Products or solutions that come with hard drive encryption or endpoint port control may help you to address one of the ways in which data loss occurs. On the other hand, content-aware DLP solutions make it easier for you to control the data or the content.
If you decide to keep your focus on keeping your data or content secure, you might consider opting for content-aware solutions i.e. single-channel solutions and enterprise DLP solutions. While single-channel solutions help you to focus on the channel of data loss (for example, email or web), the enterprise DLP solutions offer more coverage and come with lengthy implementations as well.
Step 3: What Are You Protecting?
What are you trying to protect with the help of a Data Loss Prevention tool? Answering this question solves a number of issues for you. In case, you are not aware of this answer, you need a data discovery solution. This solution helps you to find out the best answer to the question of what you are trying to protect. Also, having control over the types of content that are saved helps you in the long run.
Step 4: Why Are You Protecting the Content?
Why are you protecting the content or data?
Are you doing it for compliance or simply to protect intellectual property?
The purpose behind content protection helps you to ensure the way the content is identified and reported.
If you are looking for a DLP for compliance, you will have to meet both the data coverage and reporting requirements for the purpose of auditing. The data coverage helps you to comply with the PII DSS. On the other hand, the solution must be able to recognize the source code. This is why you must pay attention to the kind of coverage your solution comes with. You should definitely try out the solution yourself to get a comprehensive understanding of it.
Step 5: How Are Your Currently Losing Data?
If you are losing data right now, this stage is important for you. Be it email or web uploads or devices used at endpoints, it is business-critical for you to understand how you are losing data at this moment. Having a solid understanding of this will help you to identify the product that you need to use. The whole agenda here is to put an end to the accidental loss of data. However, if you are trying to prevent deliberate data loss, it is going to be a daunting task for sure.
Step 6: Create A Policy?
Now it is time to implement. At this stage, you should have the DLP solution already installed. A policy helps stakeholders to understand the content that you are controlling and the ways you are adopting to do that. All the previous steps mentioned here will help you to draft a policy that will ultimately be the building block of preventing information leaks.
Step 7: Ensure Success With Testing
Implementation testing becomes extremely crucial once you have the DLP installed and a policy in place. As you spend some time testing, you will have a better idea of what kind of impact can an incident bring. It is always wise to start testing in monitoring-only mode and tune the controls according to that. Based on the results of the testing, you can make adjustments to the policy as well.
Step 8: Time to Communicate the Policy
A Data Loss Protection policy becomes successful when your employees are part of it. This is why it is advised that you bring them up to speed on how the data loss prevention policy will be a part and parcel of their day-to-day activities. Don’t forget to explain the reasons for such controls being in place and the consequences of not having a policy like this. It is crucial that you minimize the impact of this policy on their work.
Step 9: Prioritized Policy Enforcement
Once you have tested and communicated the DLP policy, it is time to implement them. According to DLP experts, you should prioritize and release the ones that are critical to the business. You might find some issues which were not there in the testing. It is time to rectify those and simultaneously release the lesser important ones.
Step 10: Keep An Eye On Your DLP Product Evolution
Now that you have implemented the DLP doesn’t mean that you are done with it. You will always have to keep looking for places where the content is stored and advanced ways of classifying content. As you continue installing new applications, you will have to think about simplifying the required DLP controls as well. Keeping an eye on the evolution of your DLP product also helps you to stay up-to-date and implement the advanced practices to keep your organizational data safe.