The Human Factor in DLP: Addressing Insider Threats and Human Error

The Human Factor in DLP: Addressing Insider Threats and Human Error

When it comes to data loss prevention (DLP), organizations tend to focus on technical safeguards like firewalls, encryption, and software. While these measures are important, they only address one part of the equation. So, what about the other crucial element: The human factor?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the key challenges and solutions when it comes to addressing the human factor in your DLP strategy.


Implementing Stricter Access Controls for Your Organization

When we think of data breaches, we often picture a shadowy figure hacking into a company’s network. But, that isn’t always the case. While it’s not pleasant to think about, insider threats are a real risk to companies and can come in many forms, such as employees who intentionally steal data, sabotage systems, or engage in other malicious activities. According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, insider threats are the leading cause of data breaches, accounting for 47% of incidents.


One way to mitigate the risk of insider threats to your organization is to implement controls that limit access to sensitive data and systems. This means giving employees access only to the data and apps they need to do their jobs. For example, while someone in Marketing may need to access customer emails for campaigns, they don’t need access to customers’ accounting details.

Multi-factor authentication and other strict security measures like Privileged Access Management (PAM) and encryption can also help to enhance access control and reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information. So, should an employee be negligent or utilize a weak password, these ‘fail safes” prevent unauthorized attempts to access data by requiring an additional means of verification.



Monitoring Employee Activity

Monitoring employee activity is another important step in mitigating insider threats. By reviewing access logs or other records, you can identify patterns of behavior that may indicate malicious intent. For example, if an employee is accessing sensitive data outside of their usual working hours, it could be a sign that they are up to no good. Be sure to advise employees that their activity is being monitored, as this can act as a deterrent against malicious behavior.


Reducing the Risk of Human Error With Security Awareness Training

Even well-intentioned employees can make mistakes that lead to data loss or breaches. Common types of human error include inadvertently sharing sensitive data with unauthorized parties, falling for phishing scams, or accidentally deleting important files. One way to reduce the risk of human error is to offer training and awareness programmes. These programmes can educate employees on best practices for data security, such as how to identify phishing scams or the importance of double-checking your email recipients before sending sensitive information.


To make this easier, there are technologies your business can implement like DLP that allow you to unlock some of these benefits. From a single dashboard, you can control access to sensitive data by setting policies to determine who can access sensitive data and under what conditions (location, device type, etc.). You can also gain full visibility into your network communications to monitor users and their potentially risky behavior patterns and detect and prevent activities that could lead to data loss or leakage. For example, sending sensitive information to unauthorized parties or storing data in an unsecured location.


Balancing Security and Productivity With Your User Access Policies

Implementing DLP measures can be a delicate balance between security and productivity. Being overly restrictive with your policies can hinder employees from getting their work done while giving them too much flexibility can leave your corporate data vulnerable. To strike the right balance, consider implementing policies that allow employees to work with sensitive data but still limit the risk of data loss or leakage. For example, you might implement policies that allow employees to use only approved devices or that require multi-factor authentication for access to sensitive data.


While external threats to data security are certainly a concern, it’s important not to overlook the risks posed by the human factor. By implementing access controls, monitoring employee activity, offering training and awareness programs, and finding the right balance between security and productivity, you can help safeguard your business’s sensitive information.  Achieving data security requires several layers, it doesn’t need to be complex. Take Zscaler’s DLP solution for instance. Zscaler gives your IT team full visibility and control over your sensitive data including who has access to it and how it can be used, all from a single, user-friendly dashboard. This way, it doesn’t matter if an employee intentionally or accidentally leaks data you will be notified in real-time so that action can be taken to stop it.

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