Prevent data leaks - give instructions instead of prohibitions

Data breaches can occur due to many reasons. Some may be caused by external threats such as hackers gaining access to the information. Some may be as common as losing a device which has unencrypted information or sending a confidential message to wrong receiver or without encrypting it. It is always better to prevent an information leak than to cure one.

Preventing data leaks is more efficient with instructions than with prohibitions and bans

Those working inside an organization are a major cause of data breaches. Mistakes happen, and human errors occur. It's easy to deny things but bans alone won’t get you very far. When the customer needs something urgently and no secure methods are available, rules are easily broken. Instead of prohibitions, what we need is good practices for handling information in which security issues are considered.

Here are some good ways to prevent data leaks in an organization:

  1. Identify critical data

    Categorize what data in your organization needs protection and make sure you know where your critical data is located.

  2. Define accessibility to sensitive data

    Define who has access to the company’s confidential data. Make sure access rights can be easily changed and monitored.

  3. Protect sensitive information

    Utilize encryption to keep data secure. Confidential information must be protected wherever it is stored, sent or used.

  4. Secure data transfer

    Give users tools that enable them to share data and files securely with both internal and external users. Make sure the system is not dependent on the receiver having the same system in use but so that every message can be sent with the same instructions regardless of the recipient. This goes a long way in preventing users from using unsecure methods.

  5. Identify users

    Make sure you know who the person is who sees or receives confidential information. Use different methods of authentication, such as PIN codes, browser certificates or bank identifiers, depending on the need for protection. You can even use IP address restrictions if needed.

  6. Monitor data leakage

    For example, in secure e-mail messaging choose a system that utilizes data loss prevention (email DLP) to automatically monitor what identifiers each sent message has and prevent sensitive data from being sent without protection.

  7. Educate users about security

    Provide privacy and security training to all employees regularly. Give easy to follow instructions on how to communicate securely in each situation.

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