What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) ensures that sensitive information is not sent outside the corporate network. The practice of data loss prevention entails detecting and preventing data breaches, exfiltration, or unwanted destruction of sensitive data. Oftentimes, DLP is used to protect personally identifiable information PII, ensure compliance with regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR, and protect intellectual property (IP). 

Aside from this, data loss prevention allows organizations to understand where their data lives and how it moves. Data Loss Prevention solutions classify, detect, and protect critical data so that unauthorized users cannot accidentally or maliciously share data, which puts the organization at risk. 

Data loss prevention is a combination of methods and technologies that categorize, identify, and safeguard data in three states: data in use, data at rest, and data in motion. 

  • Data that is constantly being updated, analyzed, discarded, accessed, or read by a system is referred to as data that is in use. 
  • Data that is actively being monitored by data centers is referred to as data in motion. 
  • Data at rest is information that is kept in a data center but is not continuously being managed. 

Transition to Cloud 

As our society grows more digital, enterprises relying on cloud storage are more susceptible to threats. Since risk can never be completely eradicated, insider threats, attacker extrusion, and inadvertent or careless data disclosure are three frequent scenarios behind security breaches. As security becomes one of the biggest barriers to cloud adoption, businesses are hesitant to share data with their partners. With this transition, Cloud DLP offers an approach to safeguard sensitive information that many businesses exchange on SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS platforms. Such advancements in data loss prevention methods further detect complex cyberattacks that get past enterprises’ cybersecurity controls as our society evolves. 

Why is Data Loss Prevention important? 

Data loss prevention is a technology that helps keep your confidential data safe from leaks and loss. DLP solutions can automatically detect and block unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as social security numbers or credit card numbers, before it even being sent out of your organization. With more businesses adopting cloud computing services, which often store data in remote servers rather than local computers, DLP solutions are more important than ever to prevent massive data breaches. DLP is able to help with the following: 

Prevent insider threats 

Data loss prevention ensures that data is protected in an inevitable scenario where an employee makes an occasional mistake, such as sending a sensitive email to the wrong person or accidentally deleting an important document. When employees are using sensitive information on their computers, the risk of data loss is heightened. 

Additionally, data loss prevention curb malicious acts. Employees may intentionally steal data as part of a larger scheme to commit fraud or sell personal information on the black market. Insider threats can have serious consequences for both individuals and businesses. 

Protect confidential data and intellectual property 

Data loss prevention is the practice of identifying and protecting sensitive information in an organization, regardless of where that information is stored. DLP solutions can detect, monitor and prevent both intentional and unintentional disclosure of confidential data. As such, DLP solutions offer protection for intellectual property by detecting unauthorized access to sensitive information. These solutions can be used to identify who accessed confidential data such as trade secrets or employee records, when they did it, what was printed after accessing the documents and more helpful details about suspicious activity surrounding confidential data. 

Comply with industry regulations 

One of the most compelling reasons to implement DLP is to ensure compliance with industry regulations. In the U.S., there are a number of applicable laws and regulations that could affect businesses who fail to comply: 

The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. It also requires clear and conspicuous disclosures when collecting personal information from consumers and gives consumers the right to opt out of receiving further marketing calls, mailings, email messages and other communications by those companies who have collected their contact information. 

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) provides privacy protections for consumers with respect to their nonpublic personal financial data held by financial institutions (“Banks”). This include credit unions; insurance companies; investment advisors; broker dealers; mortgage brokers; retail finance companies; depository institutions such as banks, savings associations, credit unions and trust companies that provide financial services such as sell insurance policies on behalf of an insurer or provide investment advice on behalf of an investment adviser through its trust department services division upon request by customers seeking advice on matters relating solely to securities transactions involving investments regulated under federal securities laws. 

Best Practices for Data Loss Prevention 

Each enterprise has their own set of sensitive data, however, protecting this can be a challenge. In this section, we will go over best practices on how to successfully implement a DLP solution. 

To start, enterprises should decide which information, if it were stolen, would pose the biggest threat. Classifying data by context is an efficient, scalable method. This entails attaching a category to the database, source application, or user who originally produced the data. Understanding why protocols are being made and developing measures to minimize data risk can eliminate the common, problematic challenges in data loss. Organizations can create more specialized, fine-tuned controls to lower risks as the DLP program evolves. 

Moreover, data distribution to user devices or sharing with partners, clients, and supply chains can pose major risks. In these situations, data is most vulnerable while it is being used on endpoints. Data mobility needs to be considered by a comprehensive DLP program to prevent on-going data breaches. These endpoints include data being transferred to a removable storage device or attached to an email. 

To safeguard against unauthorized data activity, user training can lower the likelihood of insiders accidentally erasing data when information is moved. Educating employees helps prevent inadvertent disclosure and wrongful deletion. Comprehensive DLP solutions will also be able to notify data administrators any of such incidents. 

Key Take-Aways 

Data loss prevention is an important part of any organization’s information security strategy. It helps you stay ahead of your competition by keeping your data secure and in compliance with industry regulations, while preventing insider threats. 

It can be challenging for administrators to protect the environment from a range of threats. DLP is vital for enterprises because it scans for potential discrepancies and will operate in conjunction with risk-reduction approaches. Thankfully, many of the compliance and cybersecurity concerns that exist today can be managed with the assistance of a DLP solution to ensure your company does not incur costly fines and detrimental effects in the long run. 

For more information, watch NextLabs’ video: How to Prevent Data Loss & Ensure Compliance with Dynamic Data Masking — Data Access Security