data leak

Safeguarding the data in an organization is the primary responsibility of the IT department.

The story still strikes fearful into the hearts of IT departments: As many as 70 million credit- and debit card accounts were compromised in less than a month during the Target data breach. While Target’s internal security team was using all of the right protocols, it was an external contractor who ultimately provided the way in. No matter how locked down an IT department is, most breaches occur when a third-party provider is involved, allowing the leakage of critical data such as passwords or IP.

Any business running multiple cloud-based apps—and today, that’s most of us—runs a high risk of exposure through data leakage. Here are some ways to keep data protected, and secure every year.

. Know where your sensitive data resides

The first step towards preventing data leakage is to identify your sensitive data and where it is residing in your critical systems. Once you have identified your sensitive data, you can then categorise it in order of what requires the most amount of protection. Once data is classified, you can make use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software to firm up their security strategy. The details of such a strategy will vary based on industry and how you classify your information. For more information on this

Endpoint security

Since data also leaves networks through exit points within IT infrastructure, businesses can more effectively manage data loss risk by choosing DLP solutions that monitor and act at these exit points. This allows IT staff to determine what confidential information is leaving and when and through what specific channel or device.

With the BYOD trend growing in businesses of all sizes, endpoint management needs to be an essential part of your company’s security. Securing BYOD has become much more difficult, due to both geography and the multitude of platforms that must be supported, but the placement of effective controls can enable companies to follow the movement of data.

Retaining central control with the ability to monitor personal devices connected to corporate networks allows holistic observations of your network. Without this endpoint protection, data breaches can go unrecognized for longer periods of time, exacerbating vulnerabilities.

Beyond the fundamental steps to secure data, such as network firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, secure Web gateways and endpoint protection tools, more effective threat response begins with advanced security monitoring, as previously mentioned. Employing effective security technologies, as well as implementing best practices, can go a long way in preventing data leakage.

Any business running multiple cloud-based apps—and today, that’s most of us—runs a high risk of exposure through data leakage. Here are five ways to keep data protected, and secure this year.

Lock down the network

Being able to lock down your network needs to be be a primary focus of prevention efforts. With the rise of mobile technology, data leakage also is experiencing an uptick. While many employees are aware of the steps that must be taken to safeguard sensitive data, some simply do not recognize their practices as unsafe. This can be mitigated by frequent tutorials and practice testing of good practices.

Utilize encryption

If your business has not already done so, you should consider encrypting any private, confidential or sensitive information. While encryption is not impenetrable, it remains one of the best ways to keep data secure. A carefully implemented encryption and key management process renders stolen data unreadable and useless.

Enabling encryption across different points of your network—including data at rest and in transit—can provide significant protection from even the most advanced attacks. Businesses should enable a layered defense system through proactively monitored and managed encrypted networks.

The next step in preventing data leakage is to closely monitor traffic on all networks. The ability to automatically discover, map and track what is deployed across your entire business infrastructure provides a picture of your network in real-time.

Because the average hacker conducts reconnaissance within a network for six months before actually breaching a system, businesses need to identify anomalous behavior before a breach occurs. Monitoring tools supervise access and activity, notifying administrators of red flags when an employee downloads, copies or deletes information.

A Data Activity Monitoring (DAM) solution can provide another layer of protection by detecting unauthorized actions. While a DLP’s focal point is on network and endpoints, DAM targets database activity. Using both solutions concurrently provides broader protection through the layered use of monitoring and alerts, and blocking suspicious users or activities remotely.

First, businesses must recognize how to identify their own critical data. This means being able to categorize what data is in need of the most protection and how to utilize data loss prevention (DLP) software to protect any sensitive information. Depending on industry, this could mean PHI, financial statements and blueprint or strategy checks.

Since DLP relies heavily on proper classification of information, organizations should actualize a data protection strategy, primarily targeting sensitive documents and their handling. This is a progressive strategy; you can’t tackle everything at once. First, classify types of data to the concise policies of your organization. Prioritize small modules and target key endpoints to provide employees with learning opportunities before wider deployment. Then take an objective review period for initial results.

Audit, monitor and alert on critical changes

Arguably the most important step you can take to prevent data leakage is to ensure you have continuous and pro-active strategy to monitor changes taking place in your infrastructure that affect your sensitive data. Our surveys continually find that over 60% of organisations do not have an adequate strategy in place for change auditing. The result of this is that if critical changes did take place, they would go undetected until the effects of the data leakage incident started to manifest.

Nowadays, it is nonsensical to rely on native auditing processes alone for monitoring critical changes, as the process is too time-consuming and the logs produced contain too much noise to make any sense of. It simply doesn’t make sense to rely on native auditing when there are so many audit solutions on the market today that simplify these processes at cost-effective prices. Lepide data security platform is one such solution that audits and monitors all changes taking place to sensitive data in critical servers and to permissions of your users. It notifies you of these changes through a combination of real time alerts and pre-defined reports. Using a solution like this to monitor user activities and permission states, combined with a DLP solution for network and endpoints, helps you prevent data leakage before it escalates.

CONCLUSIVELY,The keys to preventing data leakage are manifold. Identifying critical data, monitoring access and activity with a combination of DLP or DAM solutions, utilizing encryption, retaining control of your network and using endpoint security measures all equal a fine-tuned and customizable program to protect your entire organization.

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