Google Workspace has over 3 billion users worldwide, with teams using it everyday to collaborate on projects.
Enabling high productivity, Google Drive has become an integral part of many organisations' collaborative culture. But with that, comes data security risks every user should be aware of.
In this guide, we’ll delve deep into everything you need to know about Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for your Google Drive environment.
As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application, Google Drive is easy to access from anywhere in the world, making it a perfect fit for businesses with remote and hybrid teams. Whilst there are many benefits to this evolved method of virtual collaboration, it invariably brings with it more avenues for data loss. In contrast to an age of office based work, where data security was confined to the perimeter of the network, today’s security teams have the added task of implementing security measures across multiple locations and devices.
Your Google Drive may house a wealth of sensitive information, including business documents, financial records, customer data, and employee payroll particulars. Employing a DLP tool can safeguard this data by reducing the likelihood of theft, breaches, or corruption. This tool functions by alerting you to the sensitivity of the data stored within, while also highlighting potential risks to your business.
If your organisation is obligated to adhere to data privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it is imperative to implement a robust DLP strategy. This strategy is essential not only for achieving compliance but also for mitigating the risk of legal consequences and safeguarding your reputation.
A comprehensive DLP strategy for your Google Drive can play a crucial role in preventing data loss. This includes scheduling routine backups and implementing access controls, empowering your team to access the necessary documents for their roles without jeopardising the integrity of the data.
Without a clear DLP strategy for your Google Drive, you leave your organisation vulnerable to a number of risks that can negatively impact your business, including but not limited to:
A data breach can hit at any time; minimising the amount of incorrectly stored sensitive data in your Google Drive means you reduce the amount of data threat actors may have access to. While a DLP strategy might not always protect your business from a data breach, it can minimise the impact your business suffers as a result.
Inadequate data protection measures may lead to non-compliance with regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA, potentially resulting in financial penalties imposed by regulatory authorities, along with disruptions to your business operations during the course of investigations.
Data typically serves as the central component of any business, and without it, businesses could be rendered inoperable. This underscores the critical importance of safeguarding your Google Drive against data loss, whether it stems from accidental deletion, corruption, or hardware malfunctions. Such losses can result in significant disruptions to your business operations.
Implementing stronger data security controls for your Google Drive can instill trust in your organisation among customers and provide a competitive advantage over your competitors. Neglecting to do so could potentially put you at a disadvantage with customers and partners who seek assurance that their data is secure in your care.
While Google Drive does have DLP measures built in, these may not be enough to protect your data entirely.
Your Google Drive should employ data encryption both when the data is at rest and in-transit, ensuring its confidentiality. It should also provide additional security enhancements such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and data recovery options in case of data loss.
Nonetheless, much of the configuration of Google Drive's security features falls within the user's responsibility. It is essential to allocate time for establishing stringent access controls to prevent unnecessary data exposure and to educate your employees on best practices in data security.
Whilst Google Drive does inherently safeguard sensitive data to an extent, you must also possess a clear understanding of where your sensitive data is stored and who can access it. This is where a DLP tool like Metomic becomes valuable, as it provides visibility in an automated, nuanced and streamlined fashion for you.
Certainly, Google Drive can be GDPR-compliant if used correctly. Google, as a data processor, has taken proactive measures to ensure GDPR compliance for its services, including Google Drive. As an example, users are provided with a Cloud Data Processing Addendum that delineates the terms and conditions for processing personal data.
Moreover, Google Drive offers features that enable users to export their data and request data deletion, including the "right to be forgotten." However, the extent to which you comply with GDPR requirements depends on your team's responsible usage of Google Drive. It is crucial not to retain data longer than necessary, particularly when sensitive data might be scattered throughout the company's folders and files.
Establishing a DLP strategy is essential to prevent breaches of GDPR policies, which can lead to fines and reputational damage.
There are a number of steps you can take to make your Google Drive more secure, including:
Ensuring your most sensitive documents are restricted is imperative when it comes to protecting your Google Drive workspace. If data is over-exposed, there is a higher chance that it can be accessed by a threat actor, or made public using the ‘Anyone with link can view’ option.
Lacking multi-factor authentication (MFA) leaves your security measures restricted, making it easier for hackers to gain unauthorised access. Implementing MFA for all your users can provide your Google Drive with an enhanced layer of security, introducing a secondary verification method, such as a text message, to significantly bolster protection.
It is advisable to leverage an automated tool to monitor the activity of both your employees and contractors with access to your workspace. This proactive approach enables you to detect alterations in sharing settings, identify instances of sensitive data downloads, and monitor the granting of access to third-party applications within your workspace.
Regularly backing up your data is a prudent practice, especially in cases of emergencies where data recovery may not be possible. Additionally, it's essential to contemplate contingency plans for scenarios in which Google Drive experiences service interruptions, rendering it inaccessible to your users.
Empowering your workforce to serve as a "Human Firewall" of data security-aware individuals is crucial. These employees are adept at recognising the appropriate storage locations for sensitive data and making informed decisions regarding file sharing. By extending the responsibility for DLP to your entire workforce, rather than solely relying on your security team, you can effectively address potential vulnerabilities and enhance your overall security posture.
A DLP tool such as Metomic can simplify your life by automating security procedures and conducting scans of your Google Drive to pinpoint the locations of sensitive data and identify those with access to your Google Workspace. This not only provides peace of mind but also results in significant time savings when compared to manual processes.
When you integrate your Google Drive environment with Metomic, you’ll have access to over 150 out of the box classifiers that detect sensitive data as well as custom classifiers to suit your needs.
We detect many different types of data, including:
Identify where sensitive data is stored in your Google Drive environment with a Risk Audit from the Metomic experts.
We’ll show you where your sensitive data is stored, who can access it, and how you can use Metomic to remediate risks quickly and easily.
Head to https://metomic.io/book-a-demo to get in touch with our team.