Why Office 365’s Data Loss Prevention Is Essential for Lawyers

Why Office 365’s Data Loss Prevention Is Essential for Lawyers

Canadian law dictates strict standards on how companies should manage sensitive data like patient health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), and any financial information.

To comply with regulations and to safeguard the future of your business, you need to take some extra steps to prevent potentially sensitive data from being inadvertently disclosed.

Any legal practices using Office 365 will be relieved to learn that the industry-leading productivity suite also features a set of tools for implementing a data loss prevention (DLP) policy. You can find the platform in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center. Here, you’ll be able to set up automated safeguards for monitoring, identifying and protecting sensitive information.

How Does Office 365 Data Loss Prevention Work?

Regardless of which government-mandated compliance frameworks your company falls under, you should still be committed to top-level cybersecurity. Fortunately, Office 365 makes data protection easier by allowing you to apply automated controls to data handled using all Office applications, such as Word, Excel, OneDrive, Outlook, Exchange, PowerPoint and SharePoint.

Data loss prevention in Office 365 provides a full view of where your data is located. It discovers sensitive information throughout your entire database, even if it contains years’ worth of legal documents, payment records and more. Thanks to its powerful automated tools, Office 365 can locate and inform you about such data all while doing away with the element of human error.

Once you’ve set up DLP in Office 365 and used the platform to discover confidential data, you’ll be able to set restrictions on how said data is handled. To prevent data leaks, you can activate customizable policies that dictate what your employees can and cannot do with the data. In fact, you can even prohibit the sharing of sensitive data outright.

Depending on the size and complexity of your Office 365 database, fully implementing a DLP policy can take a matter of hours. However, if you have a very large database containing many years’ worth of data, you may find the task too lengthy and complex to handle alone.

How to Create a Data Loss Prevention Policy

Implementing a DLP policy using Office 365’s Security & Compliance Center will make it easier for you to meet the demands of legislation such as PCI-DSS and PIPEDA, among others. To use the feature, you’ll need to be able to access the Office 365 admin center, which will be available to you if you have a business subscription plan and administrator privileges. The Admin Center is cloud-based, and may be accessed by signing into your Office 365 account.

Once you’re in the Admin Center, choose Security & Compliance, and expand the Data loss prevention menu. Here you’ll be able to create a policy simply by following the on-screen instructions.

You can also choose from a set of templates specific to different regions and industries. For example, selecting the finance option allows you to choose country-specific policies for handling financial data as per the regulations in place in that country. For every available policy, you’ll be able to view a short description explaining which information it is meant to protect.

After you’ve chosen which policy to implement, Office 365 will allow you to select the locations where you want to implement your policy, such as SharePoint sites, OneDrive accounts and Exchange email databases.

Alternatively, you can select all locations to ensure your DLP policy is as exhaustive as possible. Finally, once you’ve chosen which locations to monitor, you’ll be able to configure sharing rules and restrictions for your end users.

Data loss prevention in Office 365 helps protect your data from human error, which is always the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. However, to achieve regulatory compliance, it’s always better to hire a security professional. Here at Vertex, we specialize in providing cybersecurity solutions to law firms, so if you’re looking for a way to build a rock-solid technology infrastructure, give us a call today!