We are all aware of the anxiety losing something can cause. If you’ve ever misplaced your wallet, you are aware of the lasting impact it has. First, you have to get in touch with your bank, then request a new license, and then update all your existing accounts with the new information when it arrives. Even after handling the seemingly endless immediate effects of the loss, the fear of what happened to your personal information may last a while.
Now imagine if you were an organization that lost hundreds of thousands of records containing personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property (IP). In 2022 alone, several major companies such as Uber and Rockstar Games have been affected by data breaches that have compromised large quantities of their stored PII.
Numerous factors, including internal and external threats, system flaws, or even human conduct, can lead to data loss. Whatever the source, your company can take steps to stop data loss, shorten the duration of the incident, and lower the overall cost to your organization. The SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) notes data loss prevention as a critical area in their Cybersecurity and Resilience Observations report.
What is Data Loss Prevention?
Data loss prevention (DLP) involves having systems, tools, policies, and training to prevent data from being misused, lost, or accessed by unauthorized users. Preventing data loss is especially crucial for businesses that handle sensitive information like personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property (IP), and personal health information (PHI). IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report found that PII was the most common type of record lost, included in 44% of breaches. PII is also most costly type of stolen record costing businesses up to $180 per record.
For those in highly regulated industries, like financial services and life sciences, data loss prevention is required. Data management and security are crucial elements in FDA Title 21, CFR Part 11, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), FINRA, and SEC rule 17a-4. Keep in mind that many of these regulations require preventative measures, specific actions, and documentation in the event of a data breach.
The Cost of Data Loss
Whether you experience a data breach from an inside user or permanent data loss from a malicious attack, there are long term consequences. Decreased productivity, loss of consumer and investor confidence, legal fees, and remediation expenses are only a few of the costs. For many organizations, it can take years to recover from the damage. Unfortunately, some businesses don’t survive these costs and are forced to close.
Even if you experience a breach, having a data loss prevention strategy can reduce the costs. The average cost of a breach is $4.24 million. Data loss prevention can reduce the overall cost of a breach by $136,992, according to IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report.
Developing a Strategy
To meet compliance standards and secure your data, your organization needs to have a comprehensive security plan that includes preventative and responsive actions.
Develop Comprehensive Policies
When we think about cybersecurity and data protection, we often think of technology. Although technology is a significant factor in security, policies set the tone for the organization and provide guidance on which technology solutions are needed. A lack of policies and procedures can undermine even the best technologies.
Create an Asset Inventory
You can’t protect your data if you don’t know where it is. Develop an asset inventory that lists all your data, where it lives, and how it’s currently being protected. Be sure to note your critical assets and systems that would affect your business operations.
Assess and Treat Vulnerabilities
To understand how your organization could experience data loss, you need to be aware of what vulnerabilities exist in your environment. Establish regular, comprehensive vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to stay on top of your current weaknesses.
Create and implement treatment plans for discovered vulnerabilities, e.g., patch management schedule, awareness training, and comprehensive policies.
Implement Access Control
Determine paths of ingress and egress for sensitive information. Determine who has access to sensitive data and implement the principle of least privilege to ensure that access is restricted to only those that should have it. Ensure access and usage are audited. Implement appropriate restrictions and logging at all points of egress.
Conduct Security Awareness Training
Since human error remains among the top causes of data breaches, it’s essential to conduct quarterly or semi-annual security awareness training. Users who have received training are better equipped to spot harmful emails and phishing schemes. It also teaches them what steps to take if they have received this type of communication.
Implement Perimeter and Endpoint Security
Remote work is here to stay, and as such, the perimeter of your network is no longer limited to the boundaries of your office or data center. You need to ensure that you have total visibility into all incoming and outgoing network traffic, including endpoints. Implement firewalls, endpoint protection platforms, and email security. These tools will give your IT team or MSP the visibility they need to detect and respond to threats straight away.
Having a dedicated security team to actively monitor your environment around the clock allows them to respond quickly to suspicious activities occurring on your network.
Properly Dispose of Legacy Systems
Remove software that is no longer receiving security patching from the vendor. Ensure that all sensitive data is removed when disposing of outdated software and hardware. Use disposal or recycling vendors that provide a certificate of destruction.
Create a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan
Unfortunately, even with the best security measures in place, data loss is still a possibility. That’s why you need to have regular and tested backups along with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. A plan will help your organization maintain business continuity and compliance while addressing a disaster or breach.
Staying Compliant and Protecting Your Data
Data loss can have a significant and irreversible impact on your business. Data loss prevention is an essential component of your overall security posture. To maintain compliance, your organization must secure and monitor your data continuously. As the threat of cyber-attacks continues to grow, it can be challenging to balance security, compliance, and day-to-day support. Coretelligent can help to strengthen your cybersecurity posture and protect your data. You can learn more about what we offer, including cloud-based solutions, backup and business continuity services, IT planning and strategy, compliance solutions, and more here.