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3 Best Practices for Securing Confidential Data

With organizations creating more documents and data by the minute, it’s essential now more than ever before that agencies look at how to protect all of their information. That’s why many agency leaders are now exploring Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions. DLP helps organizations discover, monitor, protect and manage information, particularly sensitive data, wherever it is stored. This can be done across endpoints, devices, networks and storage systems.

“The urgency in deploying DLP solutions has only grown with recent events like the Edward Snowden affair, and has put a huge emphasis on controlling insider threat,” said Tom Blauvent, Security Architect, Symantec. “DLP serves as a core tool for those looking to mitigate insider threats and control the loss of sensitive data.”

Despite the focus on Snowden and the insider threat implications, malicious intent is typically not the way data is leaked. But even though malicious insider threats are rare, if a disgruntled employee decides to act, they can instantly put your organization on the front page of the newspaper. That’s a situation that every IT administrator dreads and must avoid.

One way to avoid being the next headline is to build more robust data protections and monitoring capabilities, which can be accomplished with a DLP tool. As you consider your next steps to deploy DLP tools, here are three best practices you can do ahead of time to make sure your DLP solution is integrated seamlessly.

1. Educate Users on How to Avoid Risky Behavior

People are one of the main risks to data leaks. For instance, an email string might be forwarded with confidential data, someone might share a spreadsheet by accident, or an employee might lose their phone on public transportation. Regardless of the event, users need to be aware of the risks, and be trained to take steps to mitigate actions that could lead to a breach.

“User awareness is one of the big challenges,” said Blauvelt. “Getting users to understand what they should and shouldn’t be doing and educating them to the degree that they have expertise to operate correctly is critical to success.”

 2. Analyze Business Processes When Deploying Tools

When a DLP solution is deployed, business process may require change to improve security, which could lead to new norms, operations and procedures. “One example [of business process change] is an organization using account numbers that have the same number of digits as Social Security numbers. That flagged the Social Security number pattern recognition within the data loss prevention system, and violations ensued. Now that organization has to coordinate an effort to change the system as to how it functions,” said Blauvelt.

3. Create and Update an Inventory of Sensitive Data

“You have to know what you are trying to protect and if you don’t know where it is at, or to what degree, or how it is moving, you are essentially taking random shots at protection,” said Blauvelt. But inventorying data can take a lot of time, and in addition to just inventorying the data, it must also be assigned a classification to assess risk. The classification is important to help know what data is sensitive, and which isn’t.

Symantec can help organizations with their data loss prevention strategies, and their solutions work enterprise-wide.

“For starters, you have to understand where the data is and where it is moving to. So one important function of our tool is to inventory and track data across a variety of locations such as files stored on disk, structured data in a database or app like SharePoint, email and other protocols transmitted over the network and Internet, and files moving to and from removable devices,” said Blauvelt.

By deploying a DLP tool, organizations can have the confidence they need to discover, monitor, protect and manage sensitive data. This will help to keep their organizations out of the paper and remain safe and secure as they work to fulfill their missions.

 

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