Data security is becoming a board level concern for most businesses that store or use sensitive data. Malicious third party actors are becoming more organized, more sophisticated and bolder in their attempts to steal data. The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving, but many companies lag behind in their understanding of the threat, and in their responses.
As the volume and sophistication of cyberthreats increases, the financial penalties for data breaches are also increasing. The wider consequences of even a single data breach can be disastrous for any business. Startups and small to medium sized enterprises can easily face bankruptcy within one year of a data breach.
The simple reason for most of these (entirely avoidable) data breaches is that obsolete DLP projects fail to prevent them. We’ll explore the most common DLP project problems, and look at how to find a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that bypasses existing DLP limitations.
How to Improve DLP Project Implementation
A DLP - data loss prevention - project is a cybersecurity project that’s designed to detect and protect sensitive data, and quickly alert IT managers to data breaches. There are a multitude of potential DLP project pitfalls and even effective DLP projects are time consuming and resource draining enterprises. When you’re operating a complex IT ecosystem that disperses sensitive data over diverse channels, remote devices and shadow cloud, you will be hard pressed to devise, maintain and update a comprehensive DLP solution.
Too many DLP projects consist of a patchwork of softwares, tools, and loosely integrated data loss prevention modules. The skill set required to implement and manage these separate functions is considerable. Many IT managers have to rely on the expensive (and not always reliable) services of freelancers and contractors. A complex DLP project will rapidly eat into your IT department’s budget and working hours.
DLP Project Problems - The Human Factor
Although the typical DLP project is software based, it is overly dependent on human reliability. There are three main human/DLP interfaces, the first is the implementation and management of the DLP itself by IT professionals.
The second interface is the requirement for ordinary, non-IT trained employees to follow routine security procedures mandated by the DLP.
The third interface is the necessity for understanding and communication between IT departments and the board of directors. Some CEOs and executive directors understand the issues, most don’t - at least until a crippling data breach occurs.
Problems with DLP Project Implementation and Maintenance
In our modern work culture employee recruitment and retention is a serious challenge. The situation was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemics, work from home and the recent phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’. These issues affect the world of IT and cybersecurity to a lesser extent than some professions, but there has still been a negative impact. Qualified IT staff are acutely aware of the monetary value of their skills and experience. They are quick to change jobs if they see a better opportunity or a new professional challenge.
IT managers face an ongoing responsibility to train staff to manage their DLP projects. They then have to retain trained people for long enough to justify the original investment of time and effort. The loss of a single team member can potentially disrupt (or create serious vulnerabilities) in a DLP project. IT managers and other qualified staff usually have to take on additional responsibilities until the vacancy is filled, or an external contractor is hired.
Many professions struggle to recruit qualified and motivated staff, but the consequences are seldom as potentially severe. Cybersecurity and vulnerability to data breaches is the achilles heel of modern business. Failure to recruit and retain trained people can inhibit growth, cause stagnation and lower morale in any division within a corporation without leading to a collapse of the company. When DLP projects fail, companies can - and do - collapse.
Employee Breaches of DLP Guidelines
Old fashioned DLP projects are overly dependent on the cooperation of ordinary employees who do not have a background in IT and cybersecurity. In small companies with a low turnover of staff, and good communication at all levels, the risks of erroneous or negligent breaches of DLP guidelines are reduced. Employee education initiatives in cybersecurity are often reasonably effective.
In large companies with a high turnover of employees, and remote workers, part-timers, freelancers and subcontractors, the risks of breaches of DLP guidelines are increased. It is far more challenging to implement employee education programs and to keep them continually updated. Employees may be less invested in the success of the company, and simply don’t care if data breaches occur. In larger companies, the opportunities for hackers and malicious actors grow exponentially - they have more weak links to identify and exploit.
Some people simply like to break rules and have to be kept in check. Even conscientious and cybersecurity aware employees can be tempted to circumvent irksome users and logins, share details, and look for any security or procedural shortcuts that will ease their daily burden and improve their workflows.
Fundamental DLP projects pitfalls that have to be overcome include the propensity for human error, negligence, malice and basic password fatigue. A patchwork of different softwares cannot provide a comprehensive defense against the human factor in a busy 2020s work environment. A preemptive, software based approach to sensitive data security that operates 24/7 with zero dependence on human compliance is a prerequisite for effective cyber security.
Is it Possible to Improve Old School DLP Projects?
It’s always possible to improve existing DLP projects. The real question is whether it’s worth investing time and resources in attempting to improve a system that is built on an obsolete concept. When IT managers do succeed in improving their overall DLP project implementation, they are not eliminating the possibility of a sensitive data breach. They are merely reducing the likelihood of a data breach occurring. In an evolving regulatory environment, where the financial consequences of data breaches are catastrophic, you’re playing Russian roulette with the future survival of your business.
Employee Education and Two Way Communication
Employee error, negligence (and occasionally deliberate criminality) is one of any DLP projects major pitfalls. You can have great cybersecurity safeguards, but if employees ignore them, they are worthless. The best you can hope for is to rapidly identify data breaches and implement what damage limitation you can. Educating employees can mitigate the risks of data breaches. In any medium sized or large company, you need the backing of the board, the cooperation of HR and the support of managers.
It’s not enough to give employees a single cybersecurity presentation, they need regular refreshers and updates, and new hires need to be briefed and trained. Employees have to understand why it’s in their own long term interests to actually follow security procedures correctly. Even with full accountability, a certain proportion of employees just won’t care, or will be fundamentally unreliable.
Generate Positive Stakeholder Involvement
A good way to generate positive interest is to offer wider cybersecurity training that also helps employees to protect themselves and their families in their private online activities. Busy people also need to be regularly reminded of the need to remain alert to potential phishing scams, colleague impersonations, unauthorized requests, hacks and approaches by malicious actors.
When stakeholders are not actively involved, problems with DLP projects multiply. Employees have to be able to give feedback about how the DLP solutions affect their productivity and morale. Successful DLP project implementation is a two way street. IT managers need to be receptive to - and not dismissive of - negative feedback from colleagues in other departments.
Transform your DLP Project with One-Click Encryption
The bottom line with DLP projects is that they can’t deliver absolute protection against data breaches. You can tinker with them and add new softwares and tools, educate stakeholders, and recruit outstanding staff - and never really be safe. When IT managers try to defend against malicious actors they face a universal black hat hacker mindset that says: You have to be lucky every single time. We only have to be lucky once…
Actifile encryption software takes luck out of the equation by providing flexible one-click encryption for all sensitive data across your entire IT ecosystem. An automated scan checks all channels, remote devices and shadow cloud. It dramatically improves on ineffective data classification methods to locate and map all sensitive data (including dormant data) and quantify it in the major currency of your choice.
You can initiate either immediate or delayed one-click encryption on a channel by channel basis, with equally flexible automated decryption. Even if your system is breached, or an employee turns rogue, compromised data will be worthless to any third party. Even if a hacker manages to steal hundreds of gigabytes of data, he will never be able to read it. Encrypted data has zero resale value to your competitors and is useless for extortion purposes.
Actifile software is transforming how businesses manage their sensitive data and is revolutionizing DLP project implementation.It can take less than 72 hours from software initiation to sensitive data remediation and any IT manager can use Actifile without specialist training. Once you’re underway, Actifile will continually scan your entire IT ecosystem on a 24 hour basis, managing your sensitive data and safeguarding your business.