Organizations usually take 191 days on average to identify data breaches.
Now imagine that you don’t protect the sensitive data you own or are entrusted with diligently. You may not even realize you’ve exposed your data to people who aren’t authorized to access it until it’s too late. Yikes.
This is where data loss prevention (DLP) comes into the picture. You can use DLP strategies to counter and reduce data loss risks effectively and launch a successful cybersecurity program to protect your business. Let’s dive in.
What Is Data Loss Prevention?
Data loss prevention or DLP is essentially a strategy or set of strategies that detects and prevents potential data breaches or data exfiltration transmissions. This involves carefully monitoring, detecting, and blocking sensitive data when:
- in use (endpoint actions)
- in motion (network traffic)
- at rest (data storage)
Data loss prevention is also interchangeably used with data leakage prevention.
You need a data loss prevention strategy to provide direction on implementing a DLP solution, where you clearly outline the what, where, and how to protect the data.
Statistics to Consider When Implementing DLP
In this section, we’ll explain some of the more notable data breach and data loss prevention statistics to provide you with deeper insights into creating a robust cybersecurity system.
1. 52% of data breaches are caused by a malicious attack.
A malicious attack is an attempt to take advantage or abuse someone’s computer forcefully, whether through computer viruses, phishing, computer viruses, social engineering, or other types of social engineering.
Installing a firewall is an excellent way to prevent a malicious attack. A firewall prevents malicious attacks by blocking all unauthorized access to or from a private computer network. When coupled with antivirus or malware software, a firewall gives you an extra barrier against malware, which can significantly reduce the chances of a malicious attack.
Additionally, you must be vigilant with your tools. Have your IT expose live into every possible route through which a cybercriminal or a malicious agent can use malicious attacks against your organization’s network and devices.
Using the right combination of endpoint and network security protection tools can actively prevent many malware-related security issues.
Encourage your team to only rely on secure encrypted networks. With the mass adoption of wireless technology in the last decade, most of our personal information is constantly sent over public networks, which isn’t really protected.
As a computer connects to files, printers, and of course, the internet constantly, we end up making ourselves (and our information) easy targets for threat actors to prey on.
To avoid this, make sure you and your team always use a virtual private network (VPN with strong encryption). You’ll also need a wireless network at home that is WPA or WPA2 encrypted. Avoid distributing your SSID to others, no matter how trustworthy. Instead, create a guest SSID and set different passwords for these people.
2. 23% of data breaches are caused by human error.
They say your employees are your biggest asset. But when you see data loss statistics like this one, you may just reconsider. Luckily, you can turn that around when you provide your staff with extensive and frequent training and promote security issue awareness.
Crew resource management training has been found to significantly and effectively reduce human error. It focuses on recognizing potential security incidents, communication, teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving. The whole training involves imagining and rehearsing scenarios and understanding how to respond and contain them.
If employees are using factory-set passwords like 1234 for sensitive equipment and data, you are in big trouble.
Many security experts recommend implementing multi-factor identification, a system that uses multiple metrics to identify and authenticate users. Adding even a single metric to the criteria for identification and authentication can significantly boost security. For example, you could add a one-time passcode texted to a user’s phone after entering a password. This is known as two-factor authentication or 2FA.
That said, keep in mind that multi-factor identification isn’t impervious to cybercriminals. In fact, there are many ways to bypass it. You can switch to biometric identifiers, such as a thumbprint when developing your data loss prevention strategy as well.
Implementing breach detection software that identifies any odd behaviors and system monitoring and surveillance that uses both machine and human intervention can also help reduce human error and increase information security.
3. 28% of data breaches are considered to be inside jobs
You may want to develop an elaborate system to protect yourself from outside threats and cybercriminals. But while you’re busy building a barricade against outsider threads, you don’t want to overlook dangers that may already be inside your network.
Handling insider threats can be incredibly tricky. These threats can be anyone—a disgruntled employee who is dissatisfied with their jobs, a negligent user, or a nosy worker. Even a small mistake, whether intentional or unintentional, can cost you dearly. It’s why the best data loss prevention policies cover how to control inside jobs.
While there are tons of DLP solutions, we strongly recommend considering the endpoint variety.
Endpoint DLP solutions are an excellent choice to protect the data at rest, also known as data stored in a database or housed on a file server. IT managers can send this DLP option to send notifications or set up a roadblock if any staff member tries to download sensitive data to portable storage devices like a USB thumb drive or a DVD.
This will significantly reduce the risks of someone walking out of your office with valuable information hidden in a pocket or briefcase. It can also scan local and network hard rise in search of sensitive data that’s been secretly or inadvertently moved to an unauthorized location, putting it at a greater risk of exposure.
Other than endpoint solutions, you can also try network solutions and channel solutions that examine data files as they pass over the network and monitor activities in specific areas rather than looking at all traffic across the network.
4. 60% of companies are implementing a data loss prevention (DLP) solution.
While 60% certainly speaks volumes of the sudden acceptance of DLP across organizations, a considerable 40% are still putting their sensitive and critical data at a greater risk.
Most of the time, people are unsure how to approach a DLP solution and implement a DLP strategy. If this is an issue with you too, here’s a six-step framework to help you develop and deploy an effective data loss prevention strategy:
- Understand that all data isn’t equally critical, which is why you need to prioritize it. Determine which data would cause the most significant problem if stolen, and focus your attention on that.
- Classify your data into different groups. An excellent way to start is by categorizing it by context.
- Understand where your data might be at the highest risk. You can even use a data loss prevention program for this.
- Observe your data movement and analyze it carefully to identify existing behavior that might put your data at risk. Remember that all data movement doesn’t represent data loss, so focus your attention on actions that increase the risks of data loss or data leak.
- Work together with business line managers to create controls that can reduce data risk.
- Provide continuous training and guidance to employees to familiarize them with circumstances under which data is moved and what they should do if they feel it’s at risk.
Data loss prevention is an ongoing process. Keep repeating the above six steps with an expanded data set or extend data identification and classification to create more tailored data controls.
5. 25% of data breaches were caused by a system glitch.
Computers can really accelerate any mistakes you make, which is precisely why you should teach your employees how to handle system glitches.
Here are our top recommendations to reduce the risk of system outages:
- Develop comprehensive test plans that include a similar test environment and realistic test data under normal and high transaction conditions.
- Automate your regression tests to swiftly (and consistently) ensure that any changes within a system don’t hurt existing functionality.
- Try to make all critical or significant software changes during maintenance windows or slow business times.
- Create a backup plan for situations where you might have to roll back to a stable environment.
In addition to the above, you should also try working with professional software testers. It’s also better if you avoid cutting corners by using lesser-skilled or cheap and ineffective resources. Experienced testers that come with sufficient resources will always save you money in the long run by preventing system glitches and outages that could potentially debilitate your company.
How to Implement Data Loss Prevention Best Practices
Below, we’ve compiled a list of leading DLP best practices that can work wonders in helping you secure your organization’s data.
Step 1: Respect Customer Privacy
When protecting customer information, you shouldn’t only do it because it’s regulatory compliance. But instead, you should view it as a business objective to protect your brand, earn customer loyalty and respect, and avoid excessive penalties and lawsuits.
Change your focus. Shift your attention to the business’s wellbeing rather than dealing with the aftermath of a data breach. You should also encourage productivity in your organization and encourage socially responsible behavior to improve corporate citizenship.
Step 2: Lock Down Data Access
If your company collects and stores sensitive data, make sure you take the necessary precautions to guard your data against cybercriminals.
So many other unintentional accidents can take place in addition to the risk of theft. Nevertheless, both pose a great risk for your sensitive data. Make sure you have proper access management controls so that only authorized people can get access to your sensitive data.
Step 3: Invest in a Tool That Deploys Multi-factor Authentication
Any organization that still hasn’t implemented multi-factor authentication is at a higher risk of a data breach.
Various cybercrime tactics can easily bypass a password in minutes, which is why you should invest in a tool that deploys multi-factor authentication in your organization.
Step 4: Document and Report All DLP Activities
Practice transparency, where you document all data protection activities and periodically report on the state of DLP to all stakeholders, which goes a long way to avoid conflicts with related groups. This includes activities like planning, budgeting, sharing lessons learned, and improving. You can also consider seeking consensus on what needs to be practiced and how.
While you’re at it, you should also track and monitor your data on networks, endpoints, and the cloud. This will give you more significant insights into how individual users interact with your organization’s data.
Step 5: Define Responsibilities and Educate Employees
Every individual in your organization involved in the DLP program must clearly understand their role and responsibility to ensure the program’s overall success.
In addition, you must educate your employees about data protection threats, data loss consequences, and their responsibilities when it comes to protecting data as per the established DLP policies. Train them on various approaches and help them learn how they can mitigate data loss and other data disks.
Be sure to consider your internal data protection policies and procedures while you do this.