Protect Your Data With These 5 Email DLP Best Practices

Rebecca DeNell
Written by Rebecca DeNell
News and Commentary /
Protect Your Data With These 5 Email DLP Best Practices

Does the thought of business data loss keep you up at night? The sheer volume of sensitive data that can be transmitted via email is staggering. Preventing data loss through this channel is vital to maintaining data security.

Data loss prevention, or DLP, is an umbrella term that covers the strategies and techniques that businesses use to protect sensitive data. Email data loss prevention is a type of DLP that endeavors to stop data loss via email transmission.

In addition to threats posed by malicious attachments and malware coming from outside sources, employees can blast sensitive data to external sources — whether intentionally or by accident — by simply clicking “send.”

Adding DLP best practices to your IT strategy is an excellent place to start if you're serious about email security. Today we’ll review five email DLP best practices to keep your data safe from external and internal threats:

  1. Identify sensitive data
  2. Use email DLP software
  3. Enforce security policies and procedures
  4. Use multi-factor authentication
  5. Train employees

1. Identify Sensitive Data

How can you protect what you haven’t identified? While critical data varies from business to business, common types of data that you should pay special attention to include:

  • Account numbers
  • Intellectual property and trade secrets
  • Social Security numbers and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Credit card numbers
  • Health records and other Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Salaries
  • IP addresses
  • Files containing login IDs and user passwords
  • Press releases in draft mode
  • Source codes

Keeping sensitive information out of the wrong hands is a priority for obvious reasons. But it also avoids potential financial and legal penalties.

2. Use DLP Software

There’s no use beating around the bush: Email DLP software is a must in the war against business data loss.

An email DLP system typically monitors your corporate network’s entry and exit points (like user devices, servers, gateways, and email clients). Some DLP tools use Natural Language Understanding (NLU), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and other techniques to provide visibility into sensitive data at rest or in transit within and outside your organization.

DLP software monitors, detects, and flags suspicious email activity to prevent unintended or malicious sharing of sensitive data over email.

3. Enforce Security Policies and Procedures

While DLP software is a highly effective tool, it cannot exist in a vacuum. Therefore, creating procedures for handling DLP scenarios is critical for getting your team on board and keeping incidents at bay.

At a minimum, your IT security policies should include:

  • Password security policies
  • Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobile device management (MDM) policies
  • Patch management policies
  • Security access limitation policies (“Principle of least privilege”)

4. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, has become a fairly standard security practice. While having an official MFA protocol is preferable, you can also replicate two-factor authentication (2FA) or MFA for any email that makes unusual requests.

How do you “replicate” MFA without specific tools? Go with your gut. If an email request looks suspicious, contact the sender directly before taking action on a particular request. It’s better to be safe than accidentally sending a list of Social Security numbers to the wrong person.

5. Train Employees

When it comes to cybersecurity, the human layer is the most vulnerable to making errors in judgment. Therefore, training employees on security protocols is never a “one and done” proposition. With attacks and the likelihood of mistakes growing in volume, it’s vital to stay current with evolving threats and best practices and pass that information along to your employees.

Get Data Loss Protection With Armorblox

As long as humans use technology, they will face security issues. However, you can lessen the impact of data breaches by using email DLP software.

Armorblox leverages sophisticated language models to detect PII, PCI, and unencrypted passwords shared with unauthorized recipients, giving you an accurate snapshot of your organization’s data exposure risk.

In addition, Armorblox protects against threats like spear phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC), vishing, and other advanced attacks that get past traditional security layers.

Modern email security goes beyond simple manual policies and blocklists to protect your human layer from compromise. Instead, Armorblox analyzes thousands of signals, learns from every organization and user, and automatically remediates threats before they cause harm.

To learn more about Armorblox, take a quick product tour below.

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