The first and most important way for a company to cut down the risk of a data breach is to reduce the volume of data stored in their networks or systems. This is a universal principle that applies to any dangerous material and is now also pertinent to data especially if it is confidential or sensitive.
However, minimizing the volume of stored data requires a primary shift in how data is collected and transferred for most companies. Modern businesses have spent the better part of their existence in accumulating as much data as possible and then storing it in poorly secured areas.
Any confidential information that a company chooses to withhold must be tracked with scrutiny, safeguarded in a controlled manner and accurately eliminated when it is no longer needed. Despite the vast number of data security tools available in the market today, the only proven and proactive data security technology and software is digital rights management (DRM). Not only does DRM safeguard your information stored online, but it is also designed to block unauthorized modification, copying, and sharing of your confidential documents and information. It can help to know that DRM is about controlling ownership and how content can be used and is an effective way to protect documents from data leakage and theft.
Apart from using document DRM, here is what organizations can do to reduce and secure their confidential information.
Tracking the information
To accomplish safeguarding confidential information is to know what you have and monitor it carefully. This requires companies to institute a data classification program, build an inventory and establish a data map. Across the journey, organizations must also pay close attention to areas and locations that data is likely to disappear from their control.
At the basis of every robust data security and breach response program is a data classification scheme. Generally, it is advised that organizations classify data into 3 to 5 categories. A sample data classification scheme would involve four types. These could be:
- Public: Information that any person could access. These could be press announcements, website content and readily available marketing materials.
- Internal: Information that could be accessed by any person or employee within the organization. Releasing such information may not cause considerable harm to the company or the workforce. Examples of such information could include internal website content or general employee communications.
- Classified: Data here is restricted only to permitted users. Disclosing information in this category could have negative implications on the company, its associates, the workforce, customers and clients in the form of financial damage, reputational harm or the delay and failure of daily functions. Examples of such data include proprietary or classified research materials, financial details, passwords to data and employee records, audit results and the like.
- Private: Data that verifies and outlines a person, where unapproved exposure, alteration, elimination or use could result in a breach of regulation or contracts and cause grievous damage to the person concerned or the organization. Examples of such information could include payment card data, license details, medical information and more.
The next step for an organization is to build a detailed list of the company’s classified data. Based on the kinds of information that the company holds, you could make it more or less granular. Small businesses that have restricted and small amounts of classified data may be able to maintain this inventory within a spreadsheet. However, companies that have far more sophisticated needs could consider leveraging data and document protection software such as digital rights management. A large number of organizations tend to underestimate the amount of classified information in their networks and systems. This is why it is crucial to create a data inventory to understand the flow of data in the organization and where it lies.
Mapping the flow of information
Once an organization has a detailed list of the kinds of accurate data existing in its systems and networks, the next logical step is to outline the flow of the information to understand where it lies. This can be done through a data flow diagram that can be useful in showing a visual representation of the flow of data.
Minimizing the volume of information
The swiftest way of reducing the risk of a data breach is to reduce the amount of data you hold. If by now you have a good understanding of where your information lies within networks and systems, you can now take steps to minimize it by either destroying it, decreasing it or refraining from gathering at in the first place.
Disposing of information
Consider the pros and cons for each type of information you choose to hold onto, and consciously establish boundaries. Make it a habit to steadily remove information from your networks when it is no longer required. It is vital to have a formal protocol that defines your information retention, and removal procedures, and for everyone in your company to be on the same page. Create the necessary process and ensure that it is regularly audited and reported for the practice to be observed.
Information is an authoritative new source that is at the core of driving new industries and boosting productivity and profitability. But, it can also be challenging to control and prevent its leakage. As data breaches grow in frequency, they continue to cause tremendous reputational and financial damage to customers and companies. Which is why, it is essential to treat data as a precarious material and employ stringent data security methods such as DRM to safeguard your documents and data no matter where they are located.