Building a Better Data Loss Prevention Strategy in 2017

Data loss might not seem preventable when you have no plan in place. You might (correctly) think that threats are coming at you from every angle.

But when you sit down and create a data loss prevention strategy from scratch, the idea of preventing this loss becomes much more clear. That’s why we’ve broken down a few of the simplest steps for drafting a data loss prevention strategy that will keep your company covered in 2017:

Step One: Evaluation—How Successful Was Your Strategy in 2016?

When looking back at your performance in 2016, the answer should be obvious: was your strategy sufficient or not?

If it wasn’t, then you’re looking at an overhaul. Specifically targeting the prevention of data loss from an internal perspective should be one of your chief priorities.

If it was, then now’s the time to innovate and stay one step ahead of the curve. What can you do to improve on last year’s performance? How might you stop data loss from internal leaks? What are the best practices you can implement as soon as possible to have a dramatic impact on the quality of your 2017 data security?

These are the essential questions you need to ask if you want your strategy to be better in 2017. Be brutally honest with yourself as you evaluate. The more honest your evaluation, the better your chances are for 2017.

Step Two: Figure Out Your Biggest Threat

After evaluation, one of the most important questions you can ask is where you think the biggest threat to your data security will come in 2017.

Will it come from an external source? Do you need to prevent hacking and phishing as you look at ways to stop data loss?

Or is the more nefarious threat from internal sources who have greater access?

Chances are, if you’ve already taken some steps to shore up your data security, the biggest threat will come from the inside. Some of these urgent threats include:

  • Contractors
  • Employees
  • Business partners
  • Compromised internal accounts
  • Careless treatment of security by insiders (non-malicious)

If it sounds incomprehensible that your data loss might come from the inside, remember that many organizations just like yours struggle with these threats every single year.

Whether a data leak occurs because someone on the inside has non-malicious intent or malicious intent doesn’t matter. What matters is identifying these threats before they happen so you can take steps to prevent them.

Step Three: Address the Top Issues

Now that you know a few of these top issues, your data loss prevention strategy needs to address them.

Simply put, how are you going to prevent data loss now that you know what the threats are?

Try taking an approach that’s just one step at a time. For example, you might focus on data breaches from contractors. There are a number of steps you could take here, including examining your current contracts and how IT is managed with contractors. You can look at what each contractor has access to when it comes to your private data. Do they have more access than they need? If so, trimming this access is a great first step.

Addressing one issue at a time might feel slow, but it’s a perfectly valid strategy when it comes to data loss.

Although you can’t plan to cover every single possible leak in data loss prevention, simply taking action rather than putting data loss on the backburner will help you build a stronger and more flexible organization when it comes to handling data loss.

Step Four: Choosing Your Area of Focus

Finally, you have to pick where you’re going to focus.

For many organizations, this will be where you’re most vulnerable. Maybe back in step one—when you did your evaluation—you found that one data loss area might be your weakest. While that can be alarming in one sense, the good news is that you’re now aware of this problem before any major data loss event.

Choose the priorities that will make the most difference in your data loss prevention. If you have quality defenses from external threats but none for internal threats, make that your focus, and vice versa.

The key here: keep in mind that data loss prevention isn’t just identifying the issues, but taking positive steps to intervene and install new best practices.

With the right strategy in place, you’ll have a far better chance of preventing data loss and enjoying a more secure company environment.