Data Loss Prevention (DLP) has become one of the most critical aspects of modern businesses regardless of the company size and the industry (or niche) they belong to. With information itself turning into the most valuable currency of today’s business landscape (including data flows, networks, and communication channels this information circulates across), making sure you have a solid Data Loss Prevention strategy in place should be among your top priorities.
To put these claims in perspective and some tangible numbers, a recent and worrisome report was published by the National Archives and Records Administration stating that 9 out of 10 organisations that face critical data loss scenarios fail to bounce back and are forced to shut down within the following 12 months from the moment they’ve lost their critical data.
This is why it is crucial for businesses across the globe to come up with a strong Data Loss Prevention plan that will keep their information secure and mitigate any loss of sensitive information. When a piece of critical data gets lost, deleted, or is accessed by outside parties and entities who should not have access to this type of information, the potential consequences can be dire and often result in the worst-case scenario.
In order to prevent this from happening to your company, we highly recommend producing and successfully implementing a strong DLP strategy. To help you do just that, here are 6 useful tips on how to strengthen your Data Loss Prevention plan.
Classify Your Company Information and Define What Type of Data is ‘Sensitive’
There are various types of data that flows through and across a single company and all its communication channels, including those pieces of information that belong to your clients and customers. However, not all information should be equally treated, managed, secured, etc; especially from the DLP’s standpoint.
That said, you should perform data classification prior to tackling the details of your data loss prevention plan. This involves identifying the files, documents, and all other types of data that goes through your company channels and define which type(s) of information could potentially cause the greatest damage should it be lost and/or accessed by unauthorised entities.
Classification in terms of data value, volume (storage- and archiving-wise) and sensitivity should also be among your parameters here.
Establish the Role Hierarchy and Chain of Command
The division of responsibilities is quite paramount when implementing an internal DLP policy. We recommend having a strong and well-defined role structure in terms of which employee levels within your company have which roles within your DLP strategy and which responsibilities are assigned to whom. Proper DLP management, utilization, testing and maintenance is of great importance and everyone should be well informed about their role in the bigger picture.
Be sure to define:
- Who creates the policy
- Who should implement it
- Who performs revisions
- Who performs testing and maintenance
The functionality levels are very important, however, the security of the data at hand and swift response should be top priorities when producing your Data Loss Prevention policy.
Take Care of Data Archiving
The way your company stores and archives data can make or break your DLP strategy. Be sure that your policy covers all necessary data and email archiving best practices as they can boost your DLP’s functionality, as well as cost-efficiency.
Most data security and archiving strategies should involve different rules for storing and keeping different types of data. For instance, you probably don’t need to pay for top-tier archiving for documents and files that you won’t need access to in 3 years time. Be sure to optimize data access and retention time frames for these purposes.
Thoroughly Test Your DLP Systems (Before it is Fully Implemented)
Ensure a DLP system or tool that is capable of sending alerts according to your specific rules. It should also be supported by your incident response teams in a proper and timely manner. However, in order to establish and successfully implement an optimal DLP system for your company, we strongly suggest performing a thorough test of your DLP systems prior to going live with the integration itself.
Track & Monitor Sensitive Data Flows Across Communication Channels
Defining which data is critical to secure with the highest protection layers is important, but it is also vital to monitor and protect the networks and channels through which this information is travelling. Depending on the size of your organisation, great volumes of data go through different communication systems. This means that a proper data loss prevention strategy should cover the tracking of all the paths and channels that deal with your sensitive information.
Find The Right DLP System/Software/Tool For Your Organisation
It is a good practice to establish proper and custom parameters for choosing the optimal DLP platform for your unique needs. The following is a list of useful questions that should be able to assist you with this task:
- Is this DLP system able to track and monitor data and its flows according to all the necessary policies, users, events, etc?
- Is this DLP system in compliance with all the necessary rules and regulations that my company needs to adhere to?
- Does this DLP system feature a managed service?
- Is this vendor providing traditional IT support?
- Can I use this DLP platform with my current OS?
Be sure to look at data loss prevention strategy as an ongoing process and not a one-off task. Legacy security policies and best practices in terms of data protection are becoming obsolete, subpar and weak when it comes to how effective and all-encompassing they are.
The modern business landscape is based on digital environments that can always be susceptible to cyberattacks. So, regardless of how large or small your business is, your overall security plan should involve an adequate DLP policy that tackles data protection on a granular level, as well as in terms of securing the infrastructure and all its channels that include the flow of data.
Guest article written by: Damian is a business consultant and a freelance blogger from New York. He writes about the latest tech solutions and marketing insights. Follow him on Twitter for more articles