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April 25, 2024
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6
 min read

Data Loss Prevention Guide for Notion

Analyzing Notion's security features: AES-256 encryption, TLS 1.2, SOC2 compliance, and 2FA. Find out if Notion is safe for managing your sensitive data.

Data Loss Prevention Guide for Notion
Calendar Icon White
April 25, 2024
Clock Icon
6
 min read

Data Loss Prevention Guide for Notion

Analyzing Notion's security features: AES-256 encryption, TLS 1.2, SOC2 compliance, and 2FA. Find out if Notion is safe for managing your sensitive data.

TL;DR

  • Notion offers strong security features like encryption, user authentication, and regular backups. However, it lacks critical security measures like end-to-end encryption and built-in data loss prevention (DLP).
  • Accidental leaks due to misconfigured permissions or insecure integrations are common security risks with Notion.
  • To enhance security, companies should regularly review user permissions, enable two-factor authentication, perform data backups, create user groups, and educate their teams on best practices.
  • Notion itself doesn't have DLP, but external solutions like Strac DLP can be integrated to scan for sensitive data and prevent leaks.
  • Strac offers automatic detection and redaction of sensitive data within Notion, protecting information like Social Security Numbers, credit cards, and confidential documents.

Notion is a versatile platform widely used for project management, wikis, and note-taking. Its flexibility allows companies to store critical business information such as product roadmaps, marketing campaigns, financial models, and client contracts. However, this popularity also brings security risks that businesses must carefully manage.

While malicious hacking often captures the headlines, the potential for accidental data leaks in Notion should not be overlooked. For instance, Notion's public page-sharing feature can inadvertently expose private information if links are shared carelessly. Similarly, overly generous guest access settings might lead to unintended data disclosures. Furthermore, if a device with the Notion app installed is lost or stolen, it could allow unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Unlike traditional software, which typically gives IT departments extensive control, Notion operates more autonomously. This can create blind spots where sensitive data might be exposed either accidentally or through insider threats. 

This brings us to the most important question: is Notion safe for businesses?

Understanding Key Security Aspects of Notion

Data Encryption

Notion employs robust security through advanced encryption methods. Data at rest is protected with AES-256-bit encryption within its databases, a strong standard that makes unauthorized access challenging even if Notion's servers are compromised. Notion uses TLS 1.2 encryption for data in transit to ensure that data remains secure and unreadable as it travels between your device and Notion's servers.

Compliance And Infrastructure

Notion adheres to SOC 2 and ISO 27001 standards, which are recognized globally for rigorous data handling practices and security protocols. These standards help ensure that Notion maintains a high level of security and confidentiality. Additionally, Notion utilizes Amazon Web Services (AWS) for hosting, which includes comprehensive physical security measures, restricted access, and routine security audits to secure user data further.

User Authentication And Authorization

Notion enhances account security with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), requiring a secondary verification code and your password to reduce the risk of unauthorized access. Notion also allows detailed permission settings, enabling users to assign different access levels (admin, editor, viewer) within their workspace. Furthermore, Notion provides granular page access control, allowing specific permissions for viewing or editing certain pages or sections, ensuring sensitive information is accessible only to authorized individuals.

Security Measures And Maintenance

Notion provides proactive vulnerability assessments and audits to identify and address any possible security flaws within its system. This continuous monitoring helps to maintain a secure environment for your data.  Notion also performs regular data backups to ensure it can be recovered during accidental deletion or system failure.

Common Security Concerns In Notion

  • No End-To-End Encryption

Notion offers data encryption for your information while it is at rest and in the process of being transferred. However, it does not employ end-to-end encryption, which means that Notion can access your data if needed for purposes such as troubleshooting or legal reasons.

  • HIPAA Compliance Challenges 

Notion's flexibility makes it popular among healthcare providers for note-taking and collaboration. However, the platform's security features may not suffice to fully protect sensitive patient information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII). The absence of built-in enterprise-grade data classification and loss prevention (DLP) tools means that healthcare organizations must rely on external DLP solutions to fill these gaps, increasing complexity and potential exposure. 

  • Credential Security Concerns 

When used as a company wiki to share sensitive information like login credentials, Notion's security depends heavily on user-configured access controls. Mismanagement of these controls can lead to unauthorized access, putting sensitive data at risk of exposure or theft by malicious insiders. Although Notion offers multi-factor authentication, recent data breaches have shown that MFA alone may not be enough to fully protect sensitive information stored in cloud apps.

  • Misconfigurations

Notion allows employees to set permissions for pages and databases, but if they are set incorrectly, it can lead to a misconfiguration. This can result in unauthorized individuals accessing sensitive information stored in the workspace. If a malicious actor finds one of these pages, they could easily steal this information without the security team knowing until it's too late.

  • Insecure integrations 

With Notion, you can connect with various third-party tools. However, it's important to exercise caution when agreeing to integrations, as not all of these tools may be trustworthy. A faulty or malicious app could potentially access your files in Notion, compromising data security and compliance measures.

  • Cloud vulnerabilities

According to Gartner's research, by 2025, approximately 90% of organizations that do not properly manage their use of public cloud services will unknowingly expose confidential information. Notion operates on a cloud infrastructure like AWS, which offers scalability and flexibility but presents unique security challenges compared to traditional on-premise solutions. This means you may have less control over the data center's physical security and access protocols. In the event of a security breach at the cloud provider level, your data could be exposed. 

While Notion provides powerful tools for collaboration and information management, understanding and actively managing the associated security risks is vital. Organizations must implement strong security practices, including configuring settings correctly, choosing secure integrations, and managing cloud usage to protect sensitive information effectively.

Best Practices To Enhance Security In Notion

  1. Regularly Review User Permissions

Notion allows detailed permission settings for members within your workspace, essential for protecting sensitive information. It’s crucial to regularly update these permissions to reflect changes in your team or project scope. This involves removing access for team members who no longer require it, such as when an employee departs the company or a project concludes.

Potential Risks of Outdated Permissions:

Outdated or unnecessary permissions can pose significant cybersecurity risks and lead to compliance issues. Without clear oversight of access rights, the risk of data theft and insider threats increases. Additionally, outdated accounts are prime targets for hackers seeking unauthorized access.

Recommended Practices:

  • Conduct Regular Reviews: Schedule permission reviews every two months to align with best security practices. Designate a manager to oversee this process, reviewing critical document access more frequently, perhaps every five to six weeks.
  • Utilize Management Tools: For enterprise users, the SCIM Notion API can streamline the review process by automating access updates and integration with your broader IT environment.
  1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Enabling 2FA provides an extra security layer for your Notion account. This feature requires both your password and a verification number from another device, ensuring that any login attempt is genuinely made by you.

Benefits of 2FA:

  • Enhanced Protection: 2FA protects against the risks associated with compromised passwords. Even if an unauthorized user discovers your password, they cannot access your account without the second verification step.
  • Implementation Steps: To activate 2FA, go to your Notion settings, select 'Security', and follow the instructions to set up this feature. Ensure that all team members enable 2FA to maintain a secure workspace.
  1. Perform Regular Data Backups 

For businesses using Notion as an essential tool for documentation and collaboration, data loss due to hardware failure, cyberattacks, or human error can be devastating. Regular backups are crucial not only for data recovery but also for compliance with standards like SOC2 and ISO27001, which require demonstrable data recovery capabilities.

Backup Best Practices:

  • Schedule Regular Backups: Determine the appropriate frequency for backups based on the criticality of the data. For most businesses, weekly backups are a minimum standard.
  • Multiple Backup Copies: Store multiple backup copies in different locations, such as on-site, off-site, and in cloud services, to protect against site-specific risks like physical damage or theft.
  1. Create User Groups

Creating user groups in Notion enhances both security and organizational efficiency. By managing access rights through groups, you can control which team members have access to specific pages, databases, and areas of the workspace.

Implementing User Groups:

  • Define Access Levels: Start by defining the roles within your team and the access level each role requires.
  • Create and Manage Groups: Set up groups corresponding to these roles in Notion. For example, create a 'Marketing' group for all marketing-related team members.
  • Automate Access Management: When a new member joins a team, simply add them to the relevant group to grant them instant access to all necessary resources. This method is far more efficient than manually setting permissions for each page or database.
  1. Review Connected Apps

Notion allows integration with third-party apps like GitHub, Jira, Slack, and Asana, enhancing functionality. As an admin, ensure these connections are secure:

  • Limit Permissions: Adjust settings in each app to grant only necessary permissions.
  • Update Regularly: Keep each app updated with the latest security patches to safeguard your data.
  • Set strong and unique passwords: When creating accounts for online platforms like Notion, use strong and unique passwords. Instead of generic passwords, use a password manager to store your login information securely and prevent unauthorized access.
  1. Monitor Activity Logs

Notion offers a comprehensive activity log feature that allows you to monitor all activity within your workspace. This includes tracking who has shared, edited, and viewed your workspace. Regularly review these logs to address any potentially illegal or suspicious actions.

  1. Educate Your Team On Best Security Practices

To maintain a secure workplace environment, team members must cooperate and understand the importance of securing passwords, identifying phishing attempts, and following proper workplace security procedures outlined in Notion. This will help protect sensitive information and prevent potential security breaches.

  1. Invest In Notion DLP

Notion is a great tool but lacks built-in data loss prevention (DLP) features. You can enhance Notion’s capabilities with additional DLP solutions:

  • No-Code DLP Solution: Our no-code tool integrates with Notion to scan and protect sensitive data such as PHI, PII, and credit card numbers using natural language processing (NLP).
  • Data Management: Choose between automatic redaction of sensitive data or precise control over its accessibility, minimizing the risk of exposure while maintaining usability.

Introducing Strac DLP for Notion 

Strac Notion DLP is a data protection tool that helps businesses safeguard sensitive information. It uses scanning and classification techniques to identify and remediate data such as SSNs, driver's licenses, credit cards, bank numbers, IP (confidential data), etc. 

Strac features:

  • Automatic detection and redaction: Strac automatically detects and redacts sensitive content. It guarantees that only authorized personnel can access the original information by securely storing it in a vault. With Strac's AI technology, you can trust that any sensitive data across large volumes of unstructured texts and documents will be accurately and precisely identified.
  • Customizable data recognition: Businesses can configure Strac to recognize and redact a wide range of sensitive data elements, including PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and PHI (Protected Health Information):some text
    • Social Security Numbers
    • Dates of Birth
    • Driver's License numbers
    • Passport details
    • Credit Card and Debit Card numbers
    • API Keys
    • Financial Documents
    • Confidential Data
  • Comprehensive audit reports: Strac offers comprehensive audit reports that track access attempts to specific messages. This is beneficial for compliance, risk management, and security teams.
  • Remediate sensitive data: Strac provides options for remediating sensitive data, such as redaction, blocking, alerting, and encryption. This feature is especially useful for protecting private information like Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Protected Health Information (PHI), effectively preventing unauthorized access. With Strac's redaction feature, sensitive data can be replaced with a secure link to Strac's secure Vault. 
  • API integration: Strac offers RESTful APIs for seamless integration and no-code options for customizable deployment.
  • Dashboard and analytics: Strac's dashboard and analytics feature allows you to visualize data discovery and remediation activities easily, gaining insights into data flow and security status.
  • Compliance with regulations/privacy laws: Strac helps you comply with major regulations like PCI, SOC 2, NIST CSF, HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and India's DPDP, safeguarding against legal and financial penalties.

Schedule a demo with Strac today to protect your Notion environment!

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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