How to prevent data leakages (and cyber attacks)

Data leakage is when your sensitive business data gets exposed either physically or electronically.

This isn’t usually a planned cyber attack. It’s often an accident – perhaps a mistake by an employee. But the result is the same:

Your company’s or your clients’ data gets out into the public eye. In some cases, this is disastrous enough on its own.

But when a cybercriminal then uses the information contained in your data leak to launch an attack, gaining access to your system, it can quickly become a nightmare scenario.

That’s where Data Loss Prevention (DLP) comes in. Like many cybersecurity measures, this is something you need to be doing proactively. It’s no good barring the stable if the data has already bolted.

Done right though, DLP stops dangerous and expensive data leaks from happening in the first place.

Why is Data Loss Prevention so important?

Protecting your business’s data would be high on your priorities list anyway. But data breaches – especially massively costly high-profile ones – are on the rise.

This is partly driven by the circumstances surrounding COVID. Many companies put home working models being into place with little oversight, offering great opportunities for cybercriminals.

There’s the compliance side too. There are now serious penalties if you don’t comply with regulations such as GDPR and can be shown not to have protected your clients’ data.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data Loss Prevention is a collection of tools and processes you can use to keep your business’s sensitive data safely in your hands.

Sometimes, the goal is to prevent unauthorised parties from gaining access. Sometimes, you want to stop data from being inadvertently misused in a way that will expose it.

DLP might involve securing data when it’s in motion as well as at rest. It will involve monitoring communications and interactions, controlling access, and encryption. It might also involve setting policies that will alert you when suspicious behaviour or possible leaks or breaches have been detected.

What are the three main types of Data Loss Prevention?

1) Network Data Loss Prevention

Network Data Loss Prevention is focused mainly on the email and web apps businesses use for communication. They do things like prevent incoming emails and other communications from unauthorised users and protect data that might be contained within or attached to emails.

2) Endpoint Data Loss Prevention

This is all about protecting your business’s devices, servers, and endpoints. As well as securing sensitive data on remote devices, it also monitors where and when your data is stored and accessed and on which devices.

Endpoint Data Loss Prevention tools are important. They’re an absolute must if you have a remote or home working set-up for your team.

3) Cloud Data Loss Prevention

As you might expect, Cloud DLP is focused on securing information that resides on the cloud – a vital part of modern office computing set-ups, allowing incredible collaboration as well as many other benefits.

Cloud DLP tools complete the trifecta of protections your business needs to prevent data loss by covering and often integrating with your SaaS applications.

How Microsoft 365 Security Suite works

If you’re using Microsoft 365, the Security Suite that this collection of apps already comes with is a great example of the kind of total, cohesive protection you need. It includes all three main types of data loss prevention tools as well as much more. It lets you:

  1. Rely on solid default DLP policies – the policies within Microsoft 365 are designed to prevent your team from accidentally sharing data.
  2. Protect Teams conversations – all of your Teams chat channels and messages are also covered by Microsoft 365’s DLP capabilities.
  3. Protect Chrome use – use Google Chrome as well as Microsoft 365? You can extend these DLP policies and processes to Chrome as well.
  4. Get Endpoint and Cloud DLP cover too – all Windows 10-equipped computers can be protected and all of your data on the cloud is safe.
  5. Set sensitivity labels – you can label data anywhere it comes into contact with your organisation with varying levels of protection based on how sensitive it is.
  6. Monitor SharePoint use and other in-office activities – Microsoft 365’s DLP monitoring covers any file sharing that goes on in your office, including SharePoint folders and libraries. It also ensures only authorised users can view files in SharePoint.
  7. Encrypt content and messages – you can use the Microsoft 365 Security Suite to employ double-key encryption to safeguard data at rest, in emails, and attached documents. This means they can only be accessed by authorised users.

Preventing data leaks

All in all, something like the Microsoft 365 Security Suite lets you cover all your DLP bases. Just be sure you or your system admin knows what they’re doing when they’re setting everything up – or rely on your usual Managed Service Provider to know what the best approach is.

Because having Data Loss Prevention tools is all very well. But many businesses still end up suffering because they don’t know how to use them to prevent data leakages properly. “We thought that was how it worked” is no defence when your clients are all looking at you as the source of a breach.

Need to know that you have a proper Data Loss Prevention strategy in place?

Let’s talk about it. Dial A Geek already helps nearly one thousand businesses in and around Bristol keep their data safe.

Arrange a cost and commitment-free chat with Chief Geek Gildas Jones today. We’ll discuss how to protect your business’s data.