Cyber Data Loss: 4 Best Ways to Avoid

Data is the life force of business today. What would happen to a business if it was cut off from its source? Data loss has the potential to inflict irreparable damage on a company.

What is Data Loss?

Data loss is the destruction, corruption, or extraction of digital information

Data loss can be the result of either of the following scenarios:

Data breach: when an unauthorized actor exposes or steals sensitive or confidential information with malicious intent.

Data leak: usually a result of an internal error. For example, a security team might overlook a software vulnerability exposing confidential information, or misconfigure a control that enables hackers to access sensitive data.

The outcome of data leaks and data breaches are very similar: data is in the hands of unauthorized users. The difference between the two terms is purely in the actor’s objective.

Cyber Data Loss: 4 Best Ways to Avoid

Spotlight on Data Loss Prevention 

Migration to the Cloud has increased efficiency, productivity, and collaboration across all industries while bringing trillions of data bytes to the Cloud. Additionally, the perimeters of our networks are constantly expanding as the work-from-home trend becomes the “new normal”. To fully reap the benefits of all the digital world has to offer today and avoid heavy data losses, DLP (data loss prevention) strategies need to be at the forefront of security policies to protect an organization against the risk of data loss due to cyber attack. Data Loss Prevention in cyber security is a tool that identifies and prevents data breaches. Research firm Gartner estimates that 90% of organizations implemented at least one form of integrated DLP in 2021, up from 50% in 2017. 

According to cyber breach statistics reported in the HIPAA Journal, 70% of companies have suffered a public cloud data breach in the past year. Notably,  Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report states that human error accounted for nearly a quarter of all breaches.  These important trends are shaping governance and compliance policies worldwide and the concept of DLP has been significantly stressed in recent groundbreaking legislation such as the European GDPR and the California CPRA. Since DLP solutions block the extraction of sensitive data into unauthorized hands, it is considered an effective gauge for internal security and regulatory compliance. Data loss in cyber security is no longer an optional perk in a system. It has become an integral component of a strong cyber security policy. 

3 Data Categories

In the realm of network security, data is divided into 3 groups that describe the data’s relative position in the network.

Data in use relates to when data is being used or accessed in a network at any given time. Security incidents can occur as data is processed, read, and even erased from a database or system.

Data in motion means that data is in transit, This would include emails, file uploads, and web requests. 

Data at rest refers to data that is statically stored on a network or database. Outdated hardware and unencrypted backups constitute the biggest risks for this category.

Now that we’ve defined these three categories, it’s easier to understand how different features in cyber security data loss solutions work together to protect all aspects of your company’s data.

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4 Ways to Avoid Data Loss

Identify and Classify Data

All data was not created equal. To more efficiently protect your data, it is important to determine which data is critical to your organization. This is one of the foundational features of data loss prevention tools. As data is created, modified, stored, or transmitted, the classification can be updated.

Access controls should be in place to prevent unauthorized users from altering classification levels. For example, only privileged users should be able to downgrade critical data to a lower classification. An access control list (ACL) is a list of who can access what data and with which permissions. It can be an internal part of a general operating system or specific to an application. For example, a custom application might have an ACL that lists which users have what permissions in that system. ACLs can be based on whitelists or blacklists.

Identity and access management (IAM) solutions help security teams analyze user permissions and enforce strict access controls. It also issues role-based templates for managing new user accounts. 

With the migration of the digital world to the cloud and the proliferation of outsourcing, it is critical to assess the security of your supply chain using third-party vendor assessment tools and CSA self-assessments before granting access to data classified as sensitive corporate information.

Data Encryption and Backups

Even with an excellent DLP solution, data loss is still unfortunately a highly probable risk. Encryption and redundant backups will keep your intellectual property safe in the event of a breach and avoid data loss.

Encryption

Valuable data should be encrypted while at rest or in transit. Data is subject to risks both in transit and at rest and protection is always required. 

Encryption is an effective tool for protecting data in transit. Encrypted connections over a network include email, web requests, file uploads, and network traffic. The following is a list of encrypted methods of data transfer:

  • HTTPS
  • SSL
  • TLS
  • FTPS
  • VPN 

To secure data at rest, enterprises can simply encrypt sensitive files in a file format such as PDF before storing them or encrypt the storage drive itself.

Backups

Backups ensure that valuable data is safely stored and can easily be restored in the event of a cyber incident or breach. Today’s backup services include a variety of sophisticated features, ranging from snapshot management to disaster recovery, cloud support, protection for virtual machines, and even archiving capabilities.

System Hardening

  • Securing the OS

The first step to securing a system is to ensure that the operating system’s configuration is secure and up-to-date. Out of the box, most operating systems come with unneeded services that give attackers access to security flaws. Unnecessary services should be removed to avoid lurking attack vectors.

  • Password Policies and MFA

Strong password policies and multifactor authentication ensure that your system is better fortified against the risks of data breaches.

  • Rigorous threat and vulnerability management strategy

Ensuring that all operating systems, applications, and software in your IT environment are patched and uncorrupted is essential for data loss protection. While antivirus and EDR solutions are automated, patches for critical infrastructure need to be constantly updated and in line with new threat vectors and vulnerability research. Vulnerability scanning software allows security teams to visually analyze and patch data flaws, conforming to the most up-to-date versions and identifying out-of-compliance devices. 

Education, Education, Education

Above all, awareness training is a vital component of a DLP strategy. The most advanced DLP policies are headed straight for disaster without user awareness. Employee training is arguably the most effective defense against the risks of data loss, and statistically more breaches have been attributed to human error than to any other cause. Compliance and acceptance of security policies and procedures can be encouraged by training webinars, periodic emails, and test phishing attempts. 

DLP Automated Solutions

Implementing a centralized DLP solution that automates and visualizes your cyber risk data loss status is a smart move. Many organizations implement inconsistent practices and technologies, with segmented functions overseen by various departments. A strong visual tool that covers the scope of your network is essential for centralizing all DLP tasks.

Centraleyes’ cutting-edge platform ensures compliance with industry standards in a user-friendly platform while providing vulnerability scanning updated with the latest threat vectors. Feel confident that your system is off to a great start with excellent data loss prevention techniques.

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Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

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