Data loss prevention: What is it and how can it keep your business’s data safe?

Data loss is a growing threat to small business owners, especially those who use multiple channels to share and store sensitive information. According to a 2016 Ponemon Institute study, 50% of small businesses have experienced a data breach.

Cyber criminals target small businesses because they often lack the time and expertise needed to effectively monitor and secure their data, leaving their networks exposed. An easy and affordable solution to this issue is to implement a data loss prevention solution as part of your small business strategy.

What is data loss prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a strategy for preventing sensitive information, such as customer data, internal data, and intellectual property, from leaking outside of a business’s data network. It typically involves software that can monitor, detect and control what information is shared both inside and outside your business’s network.

Just as security cameras, alarms and anti-theft monitors help prevent the loss of a business’s tangible assets, DLP tools and software help prevent the loss of digital assets by alerting small business owners when there’s suspicious activity or a cyber security threat to their business.

These tools can ultimately save a small business owner from dealing with the financial turmoil that usually accompanies a breach. There are several types of DLP systems out there, so you’ll need to do some research to find one that best supports your business’s specific risk.

Does my business need a DLP solution?

Almost every business can benefit from data loss prevention tools. You might want to consider DLP software if you:

  • Use mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or cell phones
  • Store sensitive customer information such as names, SSN or medical records
  • Have a point-of-sale (POS) system or accept credit cards
  • Give employees or external partners access to your network
  • Have social media accounts or use cloud storage

People typically identify “data loss” with online threats like viruses and malware. However, cyber threats extend well beyond online criminal activity. Data breaches often stem from internal sources such as missing electronic devices or employee and third-party negligence.

Data breaches can include sending confidential information to the wrong recipients, using weak passwords, or sharing password and account information. Following cyber security best practices, like securing your network and using DLP systems, can help minimize these types of incidents.

Benefits of data loss prevention tools and software

Data loss prevention tools and software can be beneficial in many ways. Here are a few other reasons your business can benefit from a DLP system:

Improved reputation

DLP software helps minimize your cyber risk, which can ultimately boost your reputation among clients and customers. Prospective partners will likely feel more secure knowing your data are protected, which can encourage future partnership and contract opportunities.

More accurate insurance rates

Insurance companies can give you a more accurate rate if they know that you protect your sensitive data. They’ll likely consider you less susceptible to a data breach if they know you have adequate security software in place.

Real-time monitoring

Most DLP systems monitor your data in real time and can immediately notify you of any suspicious activity. This quick response time allows a small business owner to act fast, which can stop a cyber attack before it happens.

Comprehensive options

Many cyber security tools protect against a diverse range of threats, so you can feel confident that you’re protected while sending, saving or receiving data. Having an all-in-one solution is especially convenient since your DLP needs might change as your business evolves.

Data loss prevention software can help a business at any stage. Whether you’re a new or more established business, it’s never too late to secure your business with a DLP solution.