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How Businesses Can Implement Data Loss Prevention Best Practices

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Data has become increasingly important to most modern businesses nowadays, and is used in a variety of ways. Different businesses may store a wide variety of data, ranging customer data to analytics data, inventory data, product data, employee data, or sensitive intellectual property. 

Odds are your business stores and uses several different types of data to enable its operations. If so, you can imagine what would happen if that data was ever lost, mishandled, or stolen? What kind of impact do you think that would have to your business?

Make no mistake, data loss can be crippling to businesses and can result in not only financial losses, but also a loss of reputation and impaired operations. That is why it is essential that every business has a plan to prevent their data from being lost, mishandled, or stolen. 

And while it is true that data loss prevention (DLP) is a fairly wide subject, there are a few simple ways businesses can implement some of its best practices:

  • Identify the right people for the job

According to Baruch Labunski, the CEO of RankSecure, one of the best practices of DLP is to ‘identify those in the company hierarchy and what their responsibilities or roles are within the DLP policies’. In other words, you will need to carefully choose the right people to create your DLP plan, implement, and manage it.

Ensuring that the right people are in charge and clearly defining their responsibilities avoid any confusion. It helps if the people you choose have experience with data loss or data security, and how to improve it. 

Taking this step will ensure your DLP plan goes smoothly and with fewer complications.

  • Apply the principle of least privilege

As a rule, any user should only have access to the information necessary to complete their tasks – nothing more. This is what is known as the principle of least privilege and its goal is to limit access to the fewest people necessary.

If you apply this principle, then should a particular user’s access become compromised the potential fallout should be minimized. That is because that user will presumably only be able to access a minimal amount of data, and that limits the potential data loss.

Not only does this protect your company from data loss due to careless users, but also malicious actors who use phishing or malware, and insider threats.

  • Monitor for suspicious user activity

The use of an employee monitoring tool such as Controlio can help tremendously to track down any suspicious user activity. Its features will let you track what apps are being used and websites that are visited, while also monitoring file transfers, emails, IM messages and other potential avenues through which data could be transmitted.

By tracking the activity of your employees, DLP by Controlio will let you spot any signs of improper activity early on. In the event that there is suspicious activity, you can then use it to monitor employees more closely by capturing periodic screenshots, recording keystrokes, and so on.

In short, Controlio will let you take action and prevent data loss incidents before they happen. And on top of that the reports that it generates will give you detailed analytics on all user activity that may help you to identify potential weaknesses in your DLP plan too. 

Some of the features of Controlio may even help to eliminate potential risks. One example of this is the fact that it can be used to block access to social media or particular websites that could be used by malicious actors. 

  • Declutter your data landscape

Over time it is almost inevitable that your business will start to accumulate more and more data. At first that may seem relatively harmless, but the truth is that it will very quickly result in a cluttered data landscape that has lots of completely unnecessary data.

To be honest, data should never be stored for no reason, and excess data will eventually become a distraction that makes it difficult for you to track important data effectively. That in turn will make it harder to identify potential risks that may lead to data loss.

The best way to avoid this is to consistently declutter your data landscape. Make sure all data is sorted and stored properly, and eliminate data that does not serve any purpose.

  • Backup data regularly

Backups are a good way to minimize the impact of a data loss incident if all else fails. Ideally your business data should be backed up in several locations – but not too many. The CEO of Beacon Platform, Kirat Singh, put it quite well when noting, “The fewer systems you have the better. You don’t want to create a system of ‘little islands’ that will make for more complications.”

Generally speaking the 3-2-1 rule is a good place to start when backing up data. It stipulates there should be 3 complete copies of data – 2 of which stored locally but on different types of media, and 1 stored offsite.

The reason for this rule is to ensure that there are sufficient backups that a single incident cannot result in a complete loss.

Taking the time to implement a solid DLP plan can help you to save both time and money in the long term. And tools like Controlio that provide you with the means to improve data security and strengthen your DLP practices are essential too. 

The best practices outlined above are a good starting point. By implementing them you may be able to avoid what would be an otherwise debilitating fallout that results in financial losses as well as a potentially crippling hit to your businesses’ reputation.

Just remember that if you truly want to prevent data loss, you need to be proactive about it. Even after you have a DLP plan, you need to always check how effective it is, identify any shortcomings, and make improvements when needed. 

Then, and only then, will you be able to minimize the risk of data loss.

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