What to Include in a Data Loss Prevention Policy

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Aside from data loss being a headache, costing money, causing legal trouble and hurting your company’s reputation, data loss can also result in fines, lawsuits, and even lose the trust of customers.

A data loss prevention policy, or DLP policy, is a set of rules and procedures that help protect sensitive data from being lost, stolen, or misused.

In essence, it tells your team what they can and can’t do when it comes to sensitive information. Let’s dive a little deeper into data loss prevention policies and how to implement them for more data security posture management in your organization.

While Qohash itself is a DSPM platform (not a DLP platform), we fully believe that DSPM and DLP are complementary. DLP tools are designed to detect data breaches by monitoring data in motion and in use, but do not proactively cover data at rest. Both are needed for complete coverage and protection — so after you request your demo with us, we’ll give you the tools on how to create a policy for your org below.

What is a Data Loss Prevention Policy?

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A DLP policy is a set of rules and procedures that are designed to stop data from being leaked, accessed without permission, or misused.

Data loss can happen in many ways, like:

  • An accident, like when someone sends an email to the wrong person
  • An intentional attack, like when a hacker steals data
  • System weaknesses that allow unauthorized access

The good news is that when you implement solid data loss prevention policies, it’ll cover all these threats. They make sure that both internal and external risks to data security are addressed.

Key Components of Data Loss Prevention Policies

A strong data loss prevention policy has several key parts:

  • Data classification, or organizing data based on its sensitivity. For example, treating financial records as more sensitive than marketing materials.
  • Handling procedures for how to manage data, telling employees what to do and what not to do with sensitive information.
  • Employee training to show employees how to follow the DLP policy and what to do if something goes wrong.
  • Incident response, which is a plan for what to do if data is lost or stolen.
  • Regulatory compliance to make sure the policy follows laws and regulations helps avoid legal issues and fines.

These components work together to protect data from being lost or stolen. Let’s break each of them down a little more.

Data Classification

Classifying data helps organizations decide how much security each type of data requires. For example, sensitive customer information will need more protection than general company announcements.

Data is usually divided into categories including:

  • Public
  • Internal-use only
  • Confidential
  • Restricted

Public data can be shared openly, while restricted data needs the highest level of security.

Data Handling Procedures

Employees must follow clear rules when dealing with sensitive data protection, including how to store data securely, how to send it, who can access it, and how to get rid of it safely.

Important areas to cover are:

  • Secure storage like using encrypted drives
  • Safe data transmission such as using secure email
  • Access controls only allowing certain people to see the data
  • Proper disposal like shredding documents or securely deleting files.

It’s crucial to update data handling procedures regularly. As new threats emerge, the rules need to evolve to keep your data safe!

Employee Training and Awareness

Employees need to understand the risks of data loss and how they can help protect sensitive information. This means learning about potential threats and safe practices.

Organizations can run various training sessions like security awareness training to teach about general risks, phishing simulations to practice recognizing scams, and workshops on proper data handling techniques.

Continuous education helps build a culture where everyone is aware of security.

Incident Response Plan

An incident response plan outlines what to do if data is lost or stolen. It helps minimize damage and ensures a quick, effective response to security incidents.

The plan should include roles and responsibilities (who does what), communication procedures (who to inform and how), and recovery strategies (steps to restore data and systems).

Regulatory Compliance

Following data protection laws and industry standards is crucial. It helps protect the organization from legal trouble and financial penalties.

Different rules may apply depending on the organization. For example, GDPR affects companies in Europe, HIPAA applies to healthcare data in the U.S., and PCI DSS governs payment card data.

A data loss prevention policy helps ensure compliance with these regulations, setting clear guidelines for protecting data, helping to avoid fines and maintaining trust with customers.

Data Loss Prevention Policy Tips: How to Create a Policy

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Creating a data loss prevention (DLP) policy is crucial for protecting sensitive information, so let’s guide you through some data loss prevention policy tips to help you create an effective DLP policy for your team!

Looking at a data loss prevention policy sample, like this sample policy, will also be helpful while creating your own!

1. Assess Your Current Data Landscape

This initial step helps you understand your data environment and identify vulnerabilities that need addressing. Use data discovery and classification tools (like our Qostodian Platform!) to streamline this process. These tools can automate the identification of sensitive data across various systems, making the assessment more efficient and comprehensive.

2. Define Policy Objectives and Scope

Clear and measurable objectives should align with your organization’s overall security goals to ensure consistency and focus. Define the scope of your policy by specifying which data types, systems, and users it will cover. This ensures that all relevant areas are protected and that the policy is comprehensive.

You’ll probably find some common objectives in data loss prevention security policy samples like preventing data breaches, ensuring compliance with regulations, and protecting intellectual property.

3. Create Employee Training and Awareness

Your employees need to understand the risks of data loss and their role in protecting sensitive information. Develop comprehensive training programs that cover data security best practices, company policies, and potential threats.

Use a variety of training methods, such as online modules, workshops, and simulated phishing exercises, to keep employees engaged and informed. These training methods help reinforce the importance of data security and ensure that employees are well-prepared to handle potential threats.

4. Implement Technological Solutions

Use DLP software, encryption tools, and access controls to monitor data movement and prevent unauthorized access. These technological solutions help detect anomalies and prevent the unauthorized transmission of sensitive information.

An important note: technology should complement, not replace, a well-defined DLP policy and thorough employee training. It is essential to integrate these tools with your overall security strategy to maximize their effectiveness and ensure a holistic approach to data protection.

5. Create an Incident Response Plan

Having a clear plan in place to respond to data loss incidents minimizes damage and ensures a swift response to security incidents. The plan should include steps for identification, containment, investigation, recovery, and notification.

6. Document Everything

Document all aspects of the DLP policy, including data classification, handling procedures, incident response plans, and training materials. This comprehensive documentation ensures consistency and accountability across the organization.

Use a version control system to track changes and updates to the policy over time. This system helps maintain an accurate history of revisions, ensuring that the policy evolves to address new threats and regulatory requirements. Regular updates and reviews of the documentation keep the DLP policy-relevant and effective.

Pair Your Policy with DSPM: Use Qohash to Monitor Your Data!

data loss prevention policies

While DLP tools are great for catching a bullet while it is leaving the chamber, a DSPM tool will halt that bullet before the trigger is pulled. Pairing your data loss prevention policy with a DSPM platform ensures that your team identifies risks before they can lead to a breach.

Our Qostodian platform offers real-time monitoring, anomaly detection to prevent data breaches, and automated remediation to quickly address security issues and minimize data loss. 

By using Qohash, you can improve your data loss prevention strategies and enhance your data security posture management all in one. Ready to take your data security to the next level? Book a demo with Qohash to see how to make data the least stressful part of your organization!

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