5 Data Loss Prevention Best Practices

Whether your business is a software company, a manufacturer, or a retailer, it’s likely dealing with more data than ever before. Today, achieving optimal customer experiences, operating efficiently, and reducing costs all require data-driven decisions — and this data is increasingly available through sensors, digital touchpoints, and more.

While having all this information to hand gives companies a strategic advantage, it also exposes them to more risk. Cyberattacks are consistently on the rise and are expected to cost companies around the world a total $10.5 trillion USD by 2025. In addition, between 2020 and 2022, there was a 60% increase in insider threat incidents, with data being leaked from within companies rather than being compromised by external threats.

So, how do you prevent that data loss? In this article, we’re sharing 5 data loss prevention (DLP) best practices so your business can stay ahead of the threats.

Data Loss

1. Identify the important data

What data within your organization is the most sensitive? Is it proprietary data? Is it large swathes of personally identifiable information? What about your business’s financial data? Before you set out on building your DLP plan, you need to have a robust list of all the data that needs protecting. Take a top down approach, here. Your executives and senior leadership will have a clear vision around what’s important to the business, and the people in the weeds will have the specifics.

This will give you a starting point so you can track all the endpoints, channels, and applications that might have access to that particular data.

2. Take a closer look at the data

Once you know what data needs protecting, it’s time to dive into the details. For each of the data types you have on your list, explore the following:

  • Where the data resides
  • Who has access to the data
  • The conditions for accessing the data
  • What data needs to be archived and when
  • Whether there are any regulatory implications for the data
  • What actions need to be taken if that data is compromised
  • The potential threat to the data
  • What measures are already in place to protect it, if any

This information should be at the core of your DLP program, providing the insights you need to create a comprehensive strategy that covers all your bases. It’s also information that will help choose the appropriate partners and vendors to hold up your DLP program.

3. Create a DLP strategy

Having a strategy in place will allow you to have clear steps to follow as you embark on your DLP journey. As you create the strategy, we suggest taking on the following tasks:

  • Take the time to identify who in your organization will be responsible for your DLP efforts and whether they need more internal or external support.
  • Determine goals and objectives for your DLP program — what will success look like in one, two, and five years?
  • Create a procurement plan for technology partners. What criteria do you have for technology providers? What budget do you have allocated for this program? Are they equipped to educate your own staff?
  • Create a list of policies and procedures that need to be developed.
  • Establish a roll-out plan. What do your employees need to know about the program? How will their day-to-day life be impacted, if at all?

These are all things that will create a solid foundation for your DLP efforts.

4. Adopt the right technology partner

A data loss prevention tool can be a great investment as part of your security efforts. Leading DLP tools are designed to monitor end user access to sensitive information, while also tracking the movement of this data. While they were originally designed exclusively for on-prem environments, modern DLP platforms have evolved to address the challenges of distributed workforces. As you review your options, seek out technologies that combine cloud and endpoint DLP with incident response capabilities. A comprehensive tool will better position your security admins to have clearer insight into what the insider threats are, and how they’re happening.

Other features to look out for include data classification, integration capabilities, the implementation approach, automatic logging, and use of browser data.

5. Get your end users on board

The success of your DLP program will depend greatly on educating your end users. At the end of the day, many internal threats are the result of user mistakes and lack of knowledge, so taking the time to educate users on how to best manage and access data will be a big step forward in your DLP efforts. A dedicated educational program can be helpful here.

This goes further than educating employees, however. The companies with the most secure ecosystems are the ones that build a culture of security within their workforce. This can mean taking a top-down approach where leaders show a commitment to security and articulate it to the rest of the organization, introducing security into general presentations and conversations, and even gamifying how you roll out new security updates.

Staying ahead of data loss

The cost of a data breach is higher than ever: an average $4.35 million USD according to the Ponemon Institute. Companies can’t afford to not have a DLP strategy and ecosystem that keeps their sensitive data safe and out of the reach of cybercriminals. As you build or refine your DLP approach, keep these five best practices in mind.

Leave a Comment