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How can Data Loss Prevention (DLP) help with Compliance and Security?

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Security breaches are on the rise since 2020 (courtesy – Covid19). If an organization lacks diligence in protecting the sensitive data, it owns or is entrusted with, they are at risk of exposing sensitive data to those who are not authorized to observe or possess it. Data loss — whether from accidental user-error or malicious malware attack — can have severe consequences on both your business continuity and your bottom line. Hackers can steal all the personal data of users and sell them on the dark web. Once the data is leaked on the dark web, anyone can access the same and cause further damage. This is where Data Loss Prevention (DLP) comes in.

With recent data breaches as well as the General Data Protection Regulation enactment, CISOs are prioritizing DLP security strategies and tools. According to a recent Gartner survey, DLP is a top priority for CISOs.

Also Read: Database Encryption – Why is it important in the age of ‘Cyber threats?

What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

Data loss prevention, also known as data leak prevention, is a program that combines technologies, strategies, and processes to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing an organization’s sensitive information. DLP technology relies on algorithms to detect and protect against instances of data loss, destruction, and unwanted access.

How does DLP work?

DLP software monitors and controls endpoint activities, filters data streams on corporate networks, and monitors data in the cloud to protect data at rest, in motion, and in use. It also provides reporting and auditing requirements which helps the organizations to ensure that the data policies comply with relevant regulations, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI-DSS.

DLP monitors and safeguards your data in transit, data at rest, and data in use:

  • Data in Transit Protection: Refers to data moving through a network, internal, or external, to an endpoint destination. DLP tools can encrypt the data and use an encrypted transport protocol such as SSL or VPN.
  • Data in Use Protection: Refers to data used by applications or in service. DLP tools encrypt sensitive in use data always, such as showing dots for a credit card number (except possibly the last four digits) and disallow transmission to unauthorized storage locations like cloud storage, personal emails, social media sites, etc.
  • Data at Rest Protection: Protecting data that is being stored on any network location, including the cloud, through access restrictions and user authentication.

A data loss prevention software may alert users by:

  • Showing a pop-up warning
  • Blocking file sharing
  • Blocking file sharing but allowing users to override by providing justification
  • For data at rest, lock and move to a secure location
  • For Teams, redact sensitive information

Different types of DLP Solutions

  • Network DLP – Tracks and analyzes the organization’s network activity and traffic, across a traditional network and the cloud; this includes monitoring e-mail, messaging and file transfers, to detect when business critical data is being sent in violation of the organization’s information security policies.
  • Storage DLP – Storage data loss prevention solution is designed to detect and block the loss of data at rest.
  • Endpoint DLP – Monitors all endpoints, including servers, computers, laptops, mobile phones and any other device on which data is used, moved or saved.
  • Cloud DLP – It’s a subset of Network DLP that is specifically designed to protect those organizations that leverage cloud repositories for data storage. Since cloud applications don’t exist on your network, you need cloud DLP to monitor and protect access to data in the cloud.

Organizations typically use DLP to:

  1. Monitor access to all sensitive data
  2. Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  3. Protect Intellectual Property
  4. Detecting abnormal or suspicious user behavior and insider threats
  5. Comply with relevant regulations by means of audits and reports
  6. Achieve data visibility
  7. Secure mobile workforce and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments
  8. Secure data on remote cloud systems

How to start?

DLP provides a lot of information. One should resist the temptation to try and solve all the data protection issues at once as it can be quite overwhelming task. A good way to start your DLP implementation is to pick the low-hanging fruit. Involve all relevant stakeholders and ensure they provide feedback on new data types that are not listed in the current DLP strategy.

Wrapping up

In this digital era, no organization is immune to data security threats. As the number of internet-connected devices skyrockets into the billions, data loss prevention is an increasingly important part of any organization’s ability to manage and protect critical and confidential information.

Despite the ubiquitous adoption of cloud, not all cloud users are well-versed in best practices that prevent data loss. To safeguard your organization from accidental data loss by human error or breach, consider implementing data loss protection policies and software to monitor and preserve your data. The DLP tools, in conjunction with periodic training to employees on data safety and security, can protect and defend your organization’s sensitive data to a great extent.

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