Cyber Security News

What is Data Loss Prevention (and why should you care)?

In the ever-growing technological world, data has become the new gold.

However, along with the enormous benefits of data comes the severe threat, and associated liabilities, of data leaks.

Remember the Medibank data breach when sensitive information for millions of their clients was leaked in a cyber attack? Alongside the damaged reputation, and loss of trust, that resulted in an AUD $250 million fine too.

So we're sure you agree that Data Loss Prevention is crucial in today's digital ecosystem where organisations manage sensitive information, including personal, financial, or proprietary business data. And that having a defined strategy for Data Loss Prevention is essential.

But what exactly is that?

Data Loss Prevention is a strategy for ensuring that end users do not send sensitive or critical information outside the corporate network. The term is also used to describe software products that help a network administrator control what data end users can transfer.

A Data Loss Prevention policy can be broadly divided into two categories, namely:

  • The transmission of sensitive data to unauthorised users, also known as data leakage
  • The prevention of data exfiltration or unauthorised data transfers, both intentional and unintentional

For instance, an enterprise can utilise Data Loss Prevention to protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc., to comply with privacy laws and prevent identity theft.

Similarly, a healthcare provider may use Data Loss Prevention to prevent the unauthorised sharing of patients' medical records, complying with laws like HIRP (Health Records and Information Privacy).

In this article, we'll share the Top 5 Strategies for Data Leak Prevention and how you can begin to implement them in your organisation.


Employee Training and Awareness

Often, the weakest link in the security chain is the human element. Employees unaware of data security protocols can unintentionally cause data leaks. Therefore, conducting regular cyber security training sessions and creating awareness about potential threats and safe practices is essential.

You can access our (free) Cyber Security Fundamentals training HERE.

Ensure employees understand the importance of maintaining data security and are aware of the potential consequences of a data breach. This training should include instructions about secure data handling, recognising and avoiding phishing attacks, proper password hygiene, and the importance of regular software updates.


Implement Robust Access Controls

Not every employee needs access to all company data. Implement role-based access control (RBAC) to limit access to sensitive information. This strategy includes both physical and digital security measures. On the digital side, encrypt sensitive data and control who has decryption keys. On the physical side, secure server rooms and restrict who can enter.

You can read more about how to implement and use a User Access Register HERE.

Moreover, multi-factor authentication (MFA) can significantly increase your organisation's security. MFA requires users to prove their identity in more than one way before they are granted access, thereby adding an extra layer of cyber security.


Regularly Monitor and Audit Your Data

Regular monitoring and auditing of your data and systems can help identify any suspicious activities and stop potential leaks before they happen. Network monitoring tools can automatically flag unusual data transfer patterns or suspicious activities.

You can read more about how to create and implement an IT Asset Register HERE.

Ensure your audit trails record who does what with your data and when they do it. With regular audits, you can identify data that is vulnerable to leakage and take the necessary precautions.


Use Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Tools

Invest in a robust Data Loss Prevention solution that matches your organisation's size and needs.

Data Loss Prevention tools can identify, monitor, and protect data in use, data in motion, and data at rest through deep content inspection and a sophisticated policy enforcement mechanism. These tools can also help you meet compliance requirements and standards like the GDPR and HRIP.


Regular Backups and Disaster Recovery Plan

Despite your best efforts, accidents can happen.

Regular data backups ensure that you have a secondary copy of all your important data. In the case of a data breach, you can restore the lost data without significant damage.

You can read more about how to create and implement a Disaster Recovery Plan HERE.

However, simply having backups is not enough. A well-crafted disaster recovery plan is essential for how to respond if a leak does occur. This plan should outline the steps to be taken immediately after a data leak is identified, including legal, PR, and technical responses.

So you now know that preventing data leaks requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach.

It starts with building a culture of security in your organisation, implementing rigorous access controls, monitoring data and system activity, using Data Leak Prevention tools, and having a robust backup and recovery plan.

While it might seem daunting, the investment in preventing data leaks far outweighs the potential damage from a data breach. Start small, and slowly build up your defences - the security of your organisation's data is well worth the effort.

If you'd like support on cybersecurity-related concerns, or any other network security services , reach out to the team at Cyber Heroes today.