Eight Tips to Protecting Your Organization's Sensitive Data From Theft

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Eight Tips to Protecting Your Organization's Sensitive Data From Theft

A combination of poor password hygiene and countless database/credential leaks has made it easy for cyber-criminals to get their hands on important enterprise data, such as usernames and passwords. When it comes to protecting serious data—such as intellectual property, software source code, CAD files and business models—data classification, paired with new-gen software and targeted policies, is one of the first steps for organizations to consider. Data classification can sometimes be the only way for corporations to prevent compromises and identify potential threats in real time. This eWEEK slide show uses industry information from Tim Bandos, senior cyber-security director at Digital Guardian, to offer tips on successfully protecting an organization’s sensitive data.

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Heighten Visibility

The majority of cyber-attacks have a common goal: data theft. Without having enhanced visibility into all data movement activity, organizations can leave themselves at risk regardless of what other layered security controls they may have in place.

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Prevent Data Compromises

Not a week goes by without some type of breach involving usernames and passwords appearing in the headlines. Although there are a variety of ways to compromise this information, organizations can close off a number of vectors with a combination of training and tech to stop the execution of password-dumping programs, exfiltration of sensitive data and the malicious links being clicked on by less tech-savvy end users.

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Classify and Protect

Relying only on users to do the right thing is an insufficient strategy when it comes to stopping corporate information from getting into the hands of mischievous hackers. Organizations need to inventory and classify critical data, applying both measures for understanding both content and context, so they can spend less time worrying about somebody in accounting inadvertently exposing their engineering data.

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Know Where Critical Data Resides

Even before applying oversight and controls on data, the first step to any successful data protection program is understanding where your most sensitive data resides. Are confidential or sensitive files stored in databases, file shares, the cloud or all of the above? Knowing what data you have and where it lives provides the ability to target classification and policy enforcement.

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Thwart Attackers

Today's cyber-threats are becoming increasingly more difficult to detect and prevent. Exfiltration methods have evolved as well. From the standpoint of monitoring and detection, a focus not only on user activity but also low-level system activity allows you to protect data from above and below and reduce attackers’ ability to evade protective mechanisms.

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Put Policies in Place

The amount of data movement activity that takes place each day in an organization can be enormous; however, having targeted policies and rules in place can help eliminate the noise in order for you to focus on what matters the most. Using a team of analysts (internally or outsourced) with “eyes on glass” is also highly recommended. That way you can identify any anomalous trends that develop over time.

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Curb Insider Threats

There will be times when an employee leaves an organization to work for another company, and often it may be a direct competitor. Having a process in place to generate a report on all file activity for that user before and after their resignation notice provides major insight into what may be leaving with the employee. Adding these users to a group with more stringent controls will provide additional comfort in knowing your data is protected. 

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Move Beyond Antivirus

Malware infections can wreak havoc on your data, regardless of whether the data is being stolen or not. Ransomware has become increasingly more destructive in nature and effective at infecting endpoints and encrypting files. Making sure that your protective controls evolve to meet new attack techniques—and not just new malware—is important.

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