How to Prevent Data Leaks?

There’s no denying that data leakage is a serious menace in the cyberworld. With remote work being part of our work ethics now, the likelihood of a data leak has increased exponentially. The importance of data loss prevention is closely linked to data leak prevention. While the cyberworld is full of unexpected data leak statistics, the fact remains that most data leaks are due to human error. 

The Target data breach is one of the most significant security breaches in human history, costing the company over $90 million. However, several data leak occurrences have since been recorded. Among the most recent is the Cash App data breach in December 2021. 

Block reported that the breach involved a former employee who downloaded reports from Cash App containing sensitive information, such as customers’ names, stock trading activity, brokerage account numbers, and other data. This is one of the reasons why policies should be in place to remove employees’ access after termination. 

Because data leaks can lead to data breaches, organizations must implement ways to prevent data loss. Any business using the internet, SaaS, or cloud-based solutions has a high data leak exposure rate. 

When dealing with data leakage, prevention is the best strategy. Even with the best data breach plan, no one wants to deal with the expensive after-effects. This article discusses some proven data leak prevention strategies.

 

Monitor Third-Party Risk

You might have robust data leak protection, but your vendors don’t necessarily take cybersecurity as seriously as you do. It’s essential to monitor the security level of third parties to ensure they’re not at risk of suffering data leakage. A third-party risk assessment plan is a common technique that ensures your vendors conform to regulatory standards, such as GDPR, PCI-DSS, or HIPAA. 

Organizations should compile risk questionnaires with relevant questions from existing frameworks. Keeping track of the risk management demands from various vendors can be a daunting task. It’s a good idea to entrust vendor risk management to professional cybersecurity research analysts. They’ll ensure proper monitoring of third-party risks.

 

Automate Processes

Security experts and other IT personnel like developers and engineers can get tired of doing repetitive tasks, resulting in complacency and errors. Automate processes to avoid this issue altogether. When there’s any security issue, you can modify and improve the process to work accordingly. 

In the case of an anomaly or data breach, you can configure an alert to notify the proper security authority. If your company operates without anomaly detection and automation, you’re more prone to unregulated failures, resulting in data leaks that compromise sensitive data.

 

Set Up Processes for Cloud Data

Organizations that implement cloud solutions can experience cloud leaks, where sensitive information stored in the cloud is exposed to the internet. You need to set up processes to safeguard cloud data. More often than not, cloud data leaks occur due to inefficient processes rather than hacking or errors from IT employees.

Organizations must implement specific business processes to handle cloud operations. Validate cloud storage configuration at deployment and throughout its time of hosting business operation data. Automation and third-party risk assessment should also be part of your cloud data management.

 

Do Vulnerability Assessments and Penetration Testing

Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing (VAPT) should be integral to your data security plan. What is data loss prevention in this scenario? Well, VAPT encompasses a vast range of security measures to help identify and address cybersecurity issues. Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in the systems and compromise sensitive company data. 

Conduct vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to test your company’s cybersecurity. You’ll determine visible weaknesses and address them accordingly. Adopt the VAPT approach to stay compliant with standards like PCI-DSS or GDPR.

 

Train Your Employees

As usual, humans are the weakest link in the data security chain. Employees can make careless mistakes and can easily be manipulated through advanced social engineering tactics. Social engineer hackers send several suspicious emails every day, and all it takes is for an employee to click on a link or unwittingly download malware. 

Make regular cyber awareness training programs a part of your cybersecurity plan. If you’re serious about data leak prevention, organize staff training each quarter or monthly. This keeps them abreast of the latest data leak techniques hackers use to compromise security.

 

Plan the Recovery Process

Even a robust data breach prevention plan doesn’t provide a 100% security guarantee. Despite regular cyber awareness training, employees can still click on malicious links. In addition to prevention measures, it’s also vital to plan a recovery process to reduce the impact in the event of a disaster. 

A data recovery plan is a documented and structured method that details how to resume an unplanned incident quickly. A tried and tested recovery process plan should benefit you in the following ways:

  • Minimize interruptions to normal business operations
  • Limit the extent of damages and disruptions
  • Minimize the economic impact of the damages
  • Provides an alternative means of business continuity
  • Train personnels on emergency tactics
  • Provide seamless and fast restoration of operations

Defend Your Network

When cybercriminals discover data leaks, they can use the sensitive information to execute successful cyberattacks that can cause damages like financial losses or ruin your reputation. Implement multi-layer security solutions to defend your network and keep sensitive data away from malicious actors. Apart from email security best practices, essential security layers you can implement include:

  • Patch management
  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus/antimalware solutions
  • Web content and email filtering
  • Endpoint protection
  • Security awareness training and phishing simulations
  • Dark web monitoring
  • Good password hygiene
  • Physical security
  • Managed detection and response 

Final Thoughts

Data leaks can cause severe damages. These range from financial loss to identity theft, operational downtime, and reputational damage. When information is exposed to the public, retrieving it can be challenging. So organizations should implement one or all of the preventive measures discussed in this article to prevent future loss.

 

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