Data Loss Prevention - Types, Solutions, and Best Techniques

By Haseeb Awan

All companies, big or small, in every industry need a data loss prevention strategy to stop data from being wasted. The strategy should focus on protecting essential and coveted company information, such as records detailing clientele medical histories, financial plans and trade secrets. DLP usually entails both technologies and policies; two examples policy-wise would be prohibiting USB device usage configuring user workstations and having strict rules surrounding emailing confidential material.

With more people working remotely, the risk of data loss is higher than ever before. Traditional cybersecurity systems are no longer enough to protect companies, as employees use various devices and networks for work. This makes it easy for sensitive data to be lost or stolen.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a strategy for making sure that sensitive data is not lost, stolen, or inadvertently leaked. It typically involves implementing technical and organizational controls to prevent unauthorized access to data, and can also include measures to detection and response in the event that data loss does occur.

DLP, or data loss prevention, is a crucial business process that ensures confidential and mission-critical data does not leave the organization.

Two main types of DLP technologies are Enterprise DLP and Integrated DLP.  

Enterprise DLP

Enterprise DLP is designed to be deployed across an entire organization, while Integrated DLP is designed to be integrated into specific applications or devices.

Enterprise DLP solutions are typically more comprehensive and offer more features than Integrated DLP solutions. However, they can also be more complex to deploy and manage. Enterprise DLP solutions are best suited for organizations that need to protect a large amount of sensitive data and have the resources to deploy and manage a complex solution.

Integrated DLP

Integrated DLP solutions are typically less comprehensive than Enterprise DLP solutions, but they can be easier to deploy and manage. Integrated DLP solutions are best suited for organizations that need to protect a smaller amount of sensitive data or do not have the resources to deploy and manage a complex solution.

When choosing a DLP solution, it is important to consider the needs of your organization and the level of protection you require. It is also important to consider the ease of deployment and management, as well as the cost of the solution.

Do You Frequently Handle Sensitive Business Data?

Within any organization, countless employees manage numerous types of data. While sales representatives might have access to customers' names and emails, finance teams deal with staff payroll information. Meanwhile, the product and dev team has sensitive IP information, and roles such as sales engineers or tech ops handle even more critical customer data. It's vital to remember that no matter what role someone plays within a company, all this data--names, numbers, addresses--is equally valuable (and vulnerable) to both your business and outside forces.

Take a look at your company as a whole to see whether it undergoes any of the following:

  • Personal identifiable information (PII)
  • Credit card details
  • Company IP
  • Insurance details
  • Medical records
  • Sensitive financial data
  • Legal case notes

Most likely, if you have customers or clients, your business is handling sensitive data that is crucial to the company.

Why Should You Use A Data Loss Prevention Solution?

It's critical to have a thorough data loss prevention strategy in place so that you can avoid data breaches and the reputational and financial damage they cause. There are three key goals or aims for adopting DLP solutions, whatever your present tools may be.

The first goal is to safeguard the personal identifiable information (PII) of workers, clients, contractors, and suppliers either independently or as part of an information security compliance regulation. The next step is safeguarding a company's trade secrets, intellectual property, or other assets that give it a competitive advantage. Last but not least, it allows an organization to have comprehensive insight into where data travels, is stored, and who has access to it.

Different Types of DLP Software

There are many different types of DLP software available on the market today. Some standard features include monitoring and blocking sensitive data, generating reports, and encrypting data in transit.

Network DLP (N-DLP) and endpoint DLP are the data loss prevention software types. While both technologies exist to safeguard your important information, the way they accomplish it differs.

Endpoint DLP

As the name suggests, endpoint DLP works on single devices that connect to your organization's network (the endpoint). This software monitors data travel going in and out (such as emails) and content stored on the device. It can also identify and monitor unencrypted sensitive data within files stored locally on the device.

However, this additional level of protection makes management more complex than network DLP. Every device on the network must be individually protected, implying that if your network has a large number of devices and is distributed across the world, protecting each will necessitate increased levels of administration and maintenance.

Network DLP

Network DLP, or data-in-motion protection, is designed to protect your company's information as it moves through the network. By placing security measures at key entry and exit points, companies can monitor how data flows in and out of their systems. If a user tries to send an email with sensitive information, the network DLP can take pre-programmed action like blocking or quarantining the message. It will also notify administrators to be aware of potential threats.

How Can I Determine Which Type Of DLP Is The Best For Me?

Different DLP software is required depending on the circumstances. In general, if you can't exercise much control over individual devices in your system, a network DLP solution will be necessary. N-DLP is quicker and easier to set up, but it's worth noting that.

However, whether you decide to secure your system or not, it's crucial to note that DLP alone isn't sufficient to guarantee that critical information is kept completely safe. Egress Prevent software helps prevent hazards in your system and closes gaps that DLP may expose — including human errors such as misdirected emails.

Debunking DLP Myths

There are no shortcuts to Data Loss Prevention (DLP). Many people make the mistake of thinking certain things could never happen to them or that they can leave some situations up to chance. Technology has its perks, but it can be detrimental if proper security measures aren't in place.

So, where should you begin to ensure that no vital information is leaked? The best thing to do is correct your facts since you won't make significant errors if you know what you're doing. Here are a few common misconceptions and myths that you shouldn't listen to:

  1. Data Loss Prevention Is A Daunting Task, Especially for Small Companies

Some business owners erroneously think they need to overhaul their whole data security system when they switch to a DLP, but this shouldn't be the case. It's understandable why this might intimidate people and make them reluctant to pursue improved security protocols.

Start with a single document category that you consider to be at high risk. Once all the protocols run smoothly, you can gradually start adding more categories.

It does not, however, have to be like this. You won't find it overwhelming if Data Loss Prevention systems are implemented thoroughly and organized. Furthermore, easy-to-use solutions are now available. Your best bet is to start with a single document category that you believe is particularly vulnerable. Once all of the policies are in place, and everything is operating smoothly, you may go on to the next level of data to preserve, and so on.

  1. The Network Will Be Put Under Much Strain Due to Data Loss Prevention.

DLP technology must be configured correctly with specified policies to avoid these problems. A well-functioning DLP system can be customized according to available resources. For example, logs specifying what files are being transferred, through which channel, and what kind of confidential data can be easily created based on internal company policies and infrastructure.

Another benefit of deploying the new network architecture is improved visibility and control. This way, not only will there be no excessive network latency to fear, but the process will benefit from heightened visibility and management.

  1. DLP is Exceptionally Sluggish and Hurts Productivity

Some people who don't know about the latest developments still think that Data Loss Protection (DLP) is like it used to be, but that was many years ago. Much work has gone into making this technology more convenient so that it doesn't affect productivity as long as policies are established, considering what each entity - meaning users, computers, and departments - is authorized to do.

The policy builder in DLP solutions is relevant because it allows the user to deny access to personal data transfer. This way, only authorized users can work with said data while being monitored for policy violations. The previous Data Loss Prevention tools were hassle-prone, but this updated version has fixed that issue.

DLP Detection Techniques

A DLP system's primary purpose is to identify sensitive information in a data stream. There are various ways that different systems go about this, including:

  • Analyze and compare digital fingerprints of sensitive data to identify potential threats
  • Attaching tags to information
  • Looking for particular keywords and expressions that may be found in a variety of sensitive documents (such as contracts or financial statements)
  • Analyzing text can help you improve your writing, find new insights in data, and automate tedious tasks.

Being precise is critical. If a DLP solution misses identifying sensitive information, that leads to data loss. On the other hand, if it over-alerts on non-sensitive data, it wastes the security team's time and energy. It causes tension with users falsely accused of doing something wrong. So you should seek a DLP solution that doesn't create too many false negatives or positives.

Best Practices in DLP

The following are some of the most crucial components in implementing a successful DLP strategy:

  1. Create A Single DLP Policy

Many businesses combine disjointed, ad hoc DLP procedures and solutions across departments and business units. This inconsistency results in a lack of insight into data assets and fragile data security. Furthermore, workers are more likely to ignore their department's DLP measures if the rest of the company does not support them.

DLP professionals must be employed to create and execute a DLP plan. Businesses looking to keep their brands safe from the dangers of data breaches and fines, as well as insurance scams, should engage in DLP training and awareness. Some government regulations demand that firms employ internal resources for data protection laws, data leak response, data leak reporting, and DLP training. personnel or engage external experts with data protection knowledge.

The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes rules that affect businesses that market to or track the activities of EU citizens. The GDPR requires a data protection officer or someone with the ability to perform DPO tasks, such as conducting compliance audits, educating employees on GDPR requirements, monitoring DLP performance, and liaising between the organization and regulatory authorities.

  1. Perform An Inventory Check And Assessment

To determine what data types are valuable to the organization and where these pieces of information are stored before implementing a DLP program is crucial. This process involves looking for intellectual property, confidential details, or other regulated data. Some DLP products can scan file metadata and catalogue results to identify assets rapidly. If necessary, these same products can open files to assess their contents.

Next, you must assess the threat of every type of data being hacked. To get a complete picture, factor in possible costs to the organization if such data is exposed. 

  1. Gradually Roll Out The Implementation

DLP should be tackled in stages for more effective results. Begin by identifying which data and communication channels are most important, then gradually add software components or modules as needed rather than all at once. This will save time and resources while providing protection where needed most.

  1. Develop A System Of Classification

Before an organization can establish and apply DLP rules, It must establish and put into use a data categorization framework for structured and unstructured data. Public, internal, confidential, intellectual property rights, personal identifiable information (PII), licensed information, financial data, and other types of data security might be utilized.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions may scan data using a pre-defined taxonomy to assist in identifying important categories of data in the field of digital transformation and data management.

DLP software makes it easier for humans to sort and separate information by automatically creating categories. With DLP, humans are in control of the material and can filer out info using primary keywords or phrases that would otherwise go undetected.

  1. Set Up Data Management And Recovery Procedures

After you develop a classification system for your data, the next step is to modify or establish policies for different types of data. DLP (Data Loss Prevention) solutions usually have pre-set rules and policies based on various regulations, like GDPR or HIPAA, which employees can adjust according to the organization's needs.

DLP enforcement products guide employees on how to stick to company policy. If the system realizes actions that violate set rules, it will either block the message completely or reroute it to a manager.

  1. Train Workers

The GDPR is concerned with data protection. The ability of individuals to follow required DLP standards may be improved through classes, online training, email reminders, films, and write-ups. Individuals who understand the importance of data security and can follow recommended DLP standards will be more likely to comply if there are severe consequences for data security breaches. A data loss protection program will not succeed if staff and contractors are unaware of their obligations. Everyone who handles sensitive information should be aware of the rules, procedures, and processes that govern data management.

  1. Monitor And Fine-Tune Policies 

A DLP program is never "finished." Effective DLP also requires regular monitoring of data handling procedures and security policies. Auditing DLP system activity provides visibility into how well employees comply with company rules and helps identify areas where additional training might be necessary. Employees leave, new ones are hired, business processes change, and technologies evolve. The goal is to keep the DLP program current to meet the organization's security needs. Monitoring can also help adjust or create new policies for the organization's business needs.

DLP Is Not A Silver Bullet, But Rather A Cultural Phenomenon

Today's digital enterprises need to have a data loss prevention plan in place. The digital crime scenario is ever-changing. Today, a fast, one-and-done solution may be successful, but it will become obsolete tomorrow. Instead, make regulations into living documents to allow them to evolve. A flexible and adaptable security policy can better accommodate future dangers if a vulnerability is discovered. Data protection will eventually develop into an essential component of the corporate culture.

Regarding data loss prevention, one size does not fit all. A "set it and forget it" mentality might offer false comfort in the short term but will leave organizations scrambling to react to new threats down the road. A comprehensive data security strategy should constantly be evolving alongside the business.

Frequent changes in business processes, user behavior, and technology can make it difficult to keep data security policies up-to-date. A DLP solution can help by automating classification and policy enforcement. But even the best DLP solution is only as good as the policies it enforces. Organizations should treat data security policies as living documents, subject to continual review and updates.

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