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Data Leakage Prevention Best Practices
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on January 17th, 2018

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Data Leakage Prevention Best Practices

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Data loss is a huge threat for many companies, especially those working in the government or as government or military contractors. Often, your company and those like it are handling data with the highest levels of sensitivity, making it imperative that you protect it. But, due to hackers with nefarious motives or employees that are just plain careless, sensitive data can easily be compromised.

Building a data loss prevention strategy to ensure sensitive data is not leaked outside of the company or to unintended parties is a growing objective for many companies. Without a strategy in place, your business could be susceptible to lost data.

To ensure you’re protecting your data, maintaining compliance, and aligning with best practices, you need to follow these three steps: identify data that needs protection, outline your data loss prevention policies, and choose a secure file sharing solution to support your efforts. When you take these steps, you can effectively minimize the risk of lost data.

 

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Identify the Data You Need to Protect

To prevent data loss, the first step you should take is identifying the sensitive data your organization needs to protect. In additional to physical data like printed papers and documents, there are three types of digital data that warrant protection:

  • Data in Use – Each day in your organization, countless pieces of data are downloaded and saved on a variety of endpoints like hard drives, USB devices, and more. This is data in use, and it is perpetually vulnerable to leakage. If an endpoint is lost, stolen, left unattended, or discarded without being properly wiped, the data on it could easily be compromised.
  • Data in Motion – In business, data is transferred between parties every minute. From employees emailing documents to each other internally to sending data to clients, there are numerous channels and processes for moving data. And, each of these channels could lead to data vulnerability. Whether it’s a threat from hackers or just a message mistakenly sent to an unintended party, someone could easily access data in motion.
  • Data at Rest – Unfortunately, data is vulnerable even when it isn’t being used at all. Data at rest, or data that resides on databases or file storage solutions, could be vulnerable because it usually sits unmonitored and may not be encrypted.

Protecting your digital data in each of these three forms is crucial for data loss prevention, especially for government or military contractors. When you know where sensitive data is, how it is used, and how it is stored, you have a strong foundation for a set of solid data loss prevention policies.

 

Define Your Data Security Policies

Once you’ve identified where data might be lost, you need to develop a strategy to minimize the vulnerabilities. This strategy is based on a list of policies that your employees should adhere to.

First, put together a set of policies that outline how data should be stored, transferred, and managed in general. These policies should address the types of data that are vulnerable and provide best practices for keeping data secure. Your employees need a defined sep of policies to adhere to, and there should be consequences to incentivize following these policies and to deter carelessness.

Once these policies have been outlined, they need to be thoroughly communicated. A large amount of data leakage is simply due to carelessness. Employees may not even realize that their data practices present vulnerabilities. So, communicate your data loss prevention policies to everyone from your entry-level employees to your C-suite level leaders. There should never be room for the excuse that someone didn’t know their actions violated data loss prevention policies.

In addition to communicating the policies themselves, you should also communicate why following these policies is important. Explain to employees how data loss puts the entire company, including their jobs, at risk. It could lead to non-compliance fines or loss of business. Data loss prevention isn’t just a one person or one team job; it’s the responsibility of everyone in your organization. When you explain how crucial data loss prevention is, it will motivate employees to change their behavior to align with best practices.

 

Look for a Secure Solution for Transferring Information

Finally, when you have policies in place and communicated to your team, it’s wise to adopt a secure file transferring solution to support your data loss prevention efforts. An industry-best FTP solution standardizes the flow of data, making it easier to protect and easier for your employees to align with your data policies.

To ensure you select the right file sharing solution to support data loss prevention, you need to identify what features you need in a solution. Keep in mind: not all file sharing solutions are created equal. So, it’s imperative that the solution you choose is both easy to use and secure.

One important factor to keep in mind is the compliance mandates applicable to your business. For example, if you’re a military contractor, ITAR (or International Traffic in Arms Regulations) compliance makes data loss prevention a major concern for your business. Data loss could put you out of compliance with ITAR, and as a result, your business could face hefty fines, loss of import and export rights, and even prison time. Noncompliance is not a risk to be taken lightly.

When you trust a top file sharing solution, their features may include built-in compliance measures, which takes many compliance-related responsibilities off your shoulders. Consider your file sharing solution options carefully, and choose the one that best supports your data loss prevention efforts.

By identifying types of data that need protection, outlining and communicating a strategic set of data policies, and choosing a file sharing solution that supports your data loss prevention efforts, you and your employees are better equipped to protect your data. With a top secure file sharing solution provider like FTP Today, you can keep sensitive data safe and mitigate the risks of noncompliance.

Learn more about how FTP Today helps you maintain ITAR compliance. Download this free guide now for more information.

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.