Plugging the Holes: The Best Ways to Prevent Data Leakage

Data leakage of sensitive proprietary or customer data can send a small business into a downward spiral. It seems that as hard as everyone works to keep their data secure, it only takes a savvy hack or one safety measure being too weak for sensitive data to be put into the wrong hands

The breaches at Target and Capital One over the last couple of years exemplify how things can go wrong and quickly. Many assume that a hacker usually causes a data breach, both that's not always the case. So, what are the best methods to prevent data leakage?

What is a Data Breach? 

A data breach is a confirmed incident in which someone accesses or reveals sensitive, confidential, protected data using a piece of software or other means in an unauthorized fashion. Data breaches can include personally identifiable data, financial data, trade secrets, personal health data, or intellectual property.

General data breach exposures include personal information, like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and healthcare histories, in addition to business data like client lists, production processes, and software source coding. 

If an unauthorized person views this type of data, the business responsible for shielding that data is said to have incurred a data breach.

Data Leak Prevention

Data leak prevention (DLP) is a set of tools and methods used to assure that sensitive data is not lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users. For many organization data leak prevention solves three main focus points that are usual points of torture:

  • personal information protection / compliance 
  • intellectual property (IP) protection
  • data visibility.

Although the DLP market isn't new, however, it has developed to embrace managed services, cloud functionality, and superior threat protection, among other matters. Linked with the upward trend in giant data breaches, all of this has witnessed a massive uptick in DLP implementation as a system to protect sensitive data.

Unintentional Data Leakage

Hostile acts are not the cause of all data leaks. In many cases, a genuine error is at the root of it—someone passes an email in error to the wrong person. If they also neglect to encrypt a piece of information or put sensitive files on a flash drive, which leads to them inadvertently upload them to an unprotected computer, it's a series of errors headed to disaster.

Your organization can use these safety measures to lessen the chance of accidental data leakage include:

The Policy of Least Privilege 

It's difficult for anyone to leak data if they don't have access to it in the first place. The best way to minimizes your users' data access by employing a restrictive policy like POLP that only gives access to what's needed to do their job. This policy will also aid in reducing the risk of data leaks by those intending harm as well.

Restrict the Email Domains That Staff Can Send Attachments 

Depending on your email system and software used, you can sort people into groups or departments to manage communications that are external to each group to a certain extent. For instance, when giving access to a file to anyone outside the employee's group, Google Drive can produce a confirmation or warning if set up that way. You make it less likely for data to be shared in error by using these kinds of alerts.

Bring Your Own Device Policy

You can establish the rules for if and how staff may utilize self-owned devices by applying a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. For example, smartphones, USB drives, laptops, in addition to others used to store, copy, and send information in the company. If these devices have restrictions on their use in the office, it minimizes the chance of any loss of data.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training Provisions

Company workers need to be trained on the potential impact of these kinds of leaks that can be for the company, not only what are the most significant risks of data loss. Workers can avoid making primary errors that lead to data leakage with this kind of awareness training. Additionally, employees can learn to identify phishing schemes and other tactics that harmful actors use to steal information.

These methods are highly efficient in limiting unintentional data leaks for most businesses. 

Multi-Cloud Data Security Practices

If your business is like many others, you've expanded to cloud applications and more than likely more than one. Unfortunately, cloud applications have higher security risks for data leakage. To keep your data secure and protected, here are a few tips:

Identify Important Data

Businesses must know how to classify their essential data. Categorizing the data that needs the most security and how to use software for data loss prevention is a primary task. Of course, this is a progressive approach; you can't undertake everything all together.

Classify, prioritize, and take an objective first. Breaking it all down and being organized is critical to the success of this task.

Monitor All Network Traffic

Closely monitoring activity on all networks is the next phase in data leak prevention. If you can automatically detect, map, and track put into used throughout your whole enterprise infrastructure, it will give you a real-time view of your network.

A hacker usually conducts observation of a network for six months prior to breaking into a system. Businesses must detect abnormal behavior in their systems before getting hacked to avoid data leakage. When an employee downloads, copies, or deletes data, monitoring tools are there to supervise. They report to administrators anything seen as a red flag.

Network Locks

A primary focus of prevention efforts is the ability to lock down your systems. Knowing the steps to take to safeguard sensitive data doesn't mean that all workers recognize their practices as unsafe. Frequent tutorials and practice testing can help ensure your workers understand what to do and not to do.

Exit Point Security

Businesses can more completely manage data leakage risks by choosing DLP solutions that control and act at exit points in the infrastructure. If classified data is being moved, knowing when and through what channel or device helps. It allows information technology staff to catch it.

The Toll of Cybercrime

Collectively, the growth of cybercrime has driven information security spending to over $86.4 billion in 2017. As we head into 2020, we can only imagine that cyber-attacks will be more prevalent and critical. The cost of data breaches proceeds to rise.

 There isn't a better time to find ways to defend your customers' data and credibility while avoiding possible risks. 

In a report titled Into the Web of Profit, a joint project of the company, Bromium, and Dr. Michael Maguire, they took a look into new platforms being used by cybercriminals. In 2019, they released Social Media Platforms and the Cybercrime Economy. It serves as the next chapter in the Into the Web of Profit series. It looks into the role of social media platforms present in the world's cybercrime economy. 

Cybercrime comes with a considerable cost that some don't yet understand. Let's take a look at some of the lead cybercrime statistics:

  • The cybercrime industry generated at least $1.5 trillion in revenue in 2018 (Into the Web of Profit).
  • Social media-enabled cybercrimes generate $3.25+ billion in revenue globally per year (Social Media Platforms and the Cybercrime Economy)
  • Social media contributes to the sale of stolen personal data worth about $630 million per year
  • $76 billion of the cybercrime economy involves Bitcoin
  • 4.1 billion reported records exposed in the first half of 2019
  • 85% of organizations reported experiencing phishing and social engineering attacks
  • Malware ranks as the most costly type of attack for organizations
  • 96% of survey respondents say email phishing scams are a top security risk

Staying Safe

Basic Cyber Protections can prevent less advanced efforts to take data from being successful. Or they may, at least, stall an attacker's momentum. Besides, email client antivirus systems can aid in stopping some data leaks by examining email attachments for malware.

Clean up computers to make sure that your most private data is on your most well-secured systems is an essential part of stopping data leaks. Prepare for the worst-case situation. If an attacker gets malware on one chance workstation, you can lower your risk of a data leak by keeping it clear of private data.

Of course, the more layers of protection you put in place on your systems, the better. Have a layered defense that includes firewalls to isolate and restrict, make it more difficult for an attack to get to your protected assets all at once. 

What's Next

If all of this has you thinking about the data security you have in place; then it's time to put an expert team in charge. With the rapidly increasing risk of cyber-attacks and data leakage, there is no time like right now. 

With Herrod Technology, your risk of data leakage is contained. With over 100 years of combined experience, their team can thoroughly meet your needs and make sure your business's sensitive data is secure. Still have questions, schedule a call.

Solve your I.T. problems by outsourcing to Herrod Tech.

Copyright 2020 - Herrod Tech Inc. - Site Created and Designed by B3 Advisors LLC.

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