In this digital age, businesses generate and store huge amounts of valuable and sensitive data online and on their devices. While the technology we use has made saving and sharing files easy and efficient, it has also opened businesses up to be a target for digital data breaches and theft. With the demand for Data Loss Prevention on the rise and the global market size projected to reach $56.28 Billion USD by 2030, it's a sign that it may be a good time for small business owners to consider enhanced data protection measures for their company.
What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?
Data Loss Prevention or "DLP" involves protecting data from unauthorized access, unwanted changes, corruption, and destruction. Sensitive information such as client records/personal information, payment info, and confidential businesses reports or other forms of intellectual property are just a few types of data that could be at risk without the right security measures.
Businesses of all sizes implement DLP in an effort to:
- Minimize the threat of data leaks and loss in the event of a cyberattack
- Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of employees and clients/customers
- Comply with data protection regulations
- Monitor data access and activities within the network and cloud systems
Common Data Leak Causes
One of the top causes for data leaks. Employees might disclose sensitive data unintentionally as a result of exposing it in a public network, or by becoming the victim of a social engineering attack. It's important to note that most cybersecurity issues can be traced back to human error, so adequate employee training is highly advised alongside the implementation of up-to-date cybersecurity technology.
Hackers can take advantage of an organization's vulnerable security infrastructure and acquire access to important data. Cyber criminals also target employees and use various techniques such as phishing, baiting, and spamming to introduce malicious software into a device or network.
Someone within the organization, whether associated currently or previously, with access to or knowledge of secure data sharing it outside of the business. This also refers to company user accounts that have been compromised through a cyberattack.
Unsecured Stored DataStoring important business data in unsecured physical and digital locations will also put an organization at risk of data loss. This can include data on personal computers, unsecured personal accounts, public cloud servers, and unencrypted file systems.
Why is DLP Important for a Small Business?
1. Limited Resources
Small businesses may not have access the same level of security infrastructure as larger organizations, with a lack of preparation putting them particularly at risk for data loss. Cyber criminals know that due to their smaller scale and often limited resources, small businesses can be especially vulnerable to data breaches and other security concerns.
2. The True Cost of Losing Data
The effects of a data breach on a small business can be catastrophic. Not only can it lead to loss of money and damage to an organization's reputation, but it can also lead to costly investigations and potential legal action. Furthermore, recovering from the breach can be expensive, needing new hardware, software, and staff to be brought in.
3. Regulatory Compliance
Small businesses need to be aware of the legal requirements around safeguarding personal data, which varies depending on state/provide or country. Failing to adhere to these laws can result in hefty penalties, so it is important that companies take the necessary steps to ensure they are compliant.
DLP Solutions & Preventative Measures
In order to help prevent data loss and ensure business continuity, a combination of DLP tools and standard practices should be implemented into your organization. These tools will make the data loss prevention strategy stronger and more manageable. Many tools or solutions exist, but selecting the right product will depend on your business' budget and unique workflow. Here are some effective tools and measures your business can take to protect its data:
Encryption is an important method for protecting sensitive data and ensuring that it remains confidential. It involves converting data into an unreadable code format which makes it incredibly challenging for an unauthorized person to acquire or utilize the information. It's a crucial step in protection information that is shared and sent over the internet, such as a cloud server.
Determining Access Controls
The process of establishing permissions for who has access to what business data. This is especially important in regards to who can view sensitive and the actions they are permitted to take with it. For example, it's likely best for employees to be granted access to only what is necessary for them to complete relevant tasks in their role. This will mitigate the risk of accidental spread or even intentional misuse of data.
Proper training is a crucial step in preventing data loss. Knowing how to handle confidential data should be a key part of the training process, especially in roles that require interaction with this information regularly. Additionally, education on how to spot baiting and phishing scams is a must considering how much data leakage is a result of an employee error. Encouraging extra precaution by requiring tools like multi-factor authentication is also a good idea. Finally, there should be an easy and efficient way to report security concerns or incidents.
Data Loss Prevention Software
Dedicated loss prevention software is another good consideration on top of strong technical and organizational practices. DLP software can track, monitor, and control the flow of data and prevent unauthorized access or changes to it. Here are 3 types of DLP solutions:Endpoint DLP :Tracks endpoints (a physical device connected to a network system) by monitoring data use and transfer between devices as a way to prevent data leaks and misuse
Network DLP : Monitors data activity (whether it's data in motion or at rest) in a company's network including email and file sharing in an effort to detect sensitive information misuse and security violations
Cloud DLP : Encrypts confidential data as it is uploaded and stored in a cloud server, and makes it easier to identify which user is accessing or moving what data
Considering the risks, it's recommended that SMB owners consider data loss prevention as an integral part of their organization's security strategy. Introducing standard measures such as encryption, access controls, sufficient employee education and training, and data loss prevention software, small businesses can greatly reduce the risk of data loss in the event of a cybertheft attempt. Investing in DLP measures will help your organization be setup for success in the long term as well.
Are you looking to get more out of your IT infrastructure? At GAM Tech, we specialize in helping small businesses succeed through reliable, responsive and accountable managed IT Services.
By taking advantage of the affordable services we provide, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of an in-house IT Consultant without the added costs. We will help you protect your important data, get the most from your technology budget, provide customized reports and recommendations, and ensure you overcome challenges now and in the future.