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An Introduction to Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for Google Apps, and Why It’s Important

September 30, 2015

Cloud computing has revolutionized how companies store and process data, boosting productivity and cutting costs. Employees can access financial spreadsheets, contracts, and customer records instantly from across the room or around the world, giving companies and workers unprecedented flexibility.

Unfortunately, the same easy flow of data makes it easy for protected information to end up in the wrong hands. Malicious employees can leak corporate secrets to competitors or the press. Careless customers or partners can send protected data on insecure channels. Legacy systems or poor organizational behavior can create opportunities for hackers. Data loss prevention (DLP) software and techniques are designed to address all of these issues, keeping proprietary information and customer data secure.

User Error — The Real Data Security Risk

One of the biggest threats to enterprise data security is simple user error. As organizations grow in size and complexity, it becomes increasingly difficult to make sure everyone understands and employs data loss prevention best practices.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), from 2012-2014, 9.5% of data breaches that exposed sensitive personal information were caused by employee mistakes. From 2007-2014, another 11.2% of breaches were caused by subcontractors, and 12.5% more were due to accidental exposure. Dramatic data heists by hackers receive all the press, but many breaches have much more mundane roots in employee and organizational behavior.

Email is especially vulnerable to data breaches. An employee can enter the wrong address with autocomplete, forwarding an attachment to the wrong person. They can accidentally send an entire email chain instead of just the pertinent information, sharing something their recipient wasn’t meant to read. They can send sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or Personal Health Information over an unencrypted email, breaking compliance rules and making the data vulnerable to hackers.

Workplaces that allow employees to bring their own devices into work and insecure media (such as thumb drives) also play a big role in data breaches. If an employee copies data onto their laptop (or any other mobile device) and that laptop is stolen, the information on it is at risk.

What is Data Loss Prevention, Anyway?

Data loss prevention is the set of tools organizations use to prevent sensitive data from being exposed. It includes firewalls, antivirus, and encryption programs, which prevents hackers from accessing electronic data. Detection tools like traffic monitoring software and Google Apps (now known as G Suite) administrator alerts boost data security by letting organizations quickly spot and respond to data breaches. Digital rights management (or DRM) is one of the most important data loss prevention tools, because it controls who gets access to confidential information.

Training and organizational behavior are every bit as important to effective data loss prevention. Security initiatives can tank when organizations fail to follow up with them, or lose track of who has access to their data. Under-trained or disaffected employees can also undermine data security by failing to put DLP policies into practice. To prevent data leaks, you need to make sure the whole organization is on board.

Why DLP is Important to G Suite

G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Work) provides an incredible amount of flexibility and functionality for businesses. Between its built-in applications and third-party offerings, it can handle nearly any business computing need, from emails and personal meetings, to financial planning, to marketing.

G Suite makes it easy to store and transmit all this information — a little too easy. Employees can expose documents by sharing them with the wrong people, or using default permissions that let anyone with a link access and change a document. They can store sensitive information on their personal accounts, bypassing security measures. Without a solid layer of DLP, a hacked password, a session left open, or an email to the wrong person can give a hacker the same access to your data your employees have.

How Virtru DLP works:

Virtru provides some of the simplest and most effective data loss prevention tools available for Gmail. It starts with client-side encryption, which protects your emails and attachments, ensuring they can only be read by their intended recipients. Virtru Pro adds the ability to revoke emails, even after they have been opened. If someone in your organization accidentally sends the wrong information to the wrong person, they can correct their mistake before it becomes a major breach.

Virtru DLP gives end users and administrators the ability to stop stray emails from being sent in the first place. It has standard rules which will automatically give a warning message or encrypt an email when someone tries to send protected information, such as a password or social security number. It also includes specialized rule sets to comply with HIPAA and other regulatory regimes. You can even create custom rules, to CC an admin whenever an employee emails someone outside the organization, for example, or to strip attachments unless they’re sent with a confidentiality statement in the body of the email. See it in action here:

Virtru: Email Security and Data Loss Prevention for Everyone

Whether you’re implementing an enterprise level data loss prevention policy or just looking for an easy way to encrypt emails for a small business, Virtru is the best way to upgrade your security. Virtru encryption integrates seamlessly with G Suite, letting you encrypt, recall, or even put time limits on emails. Virtru DLP takes it to the next level, giving you the ability to control what information leaves your organization. In a world where one stray email can tank your business’ reputation and finances, Virtru can make all the difference.

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