Why Is Data Loss Prevention is Crucial for Business?

Over nine out of ten businesses don't survive a catastrophic data loss, so data loss prevention must be a priority.

importance of data loss prevention
Shutterstock License - LeoWolfert

Data loss is a serious problem for many businesses. An estimated 94% do not survive a catastrophic data loss.

Data loss prevention (DLP) strives to protect your business data from inside or outside compromise. This includes data leakage, data loss, misuse of data, or data compromised by unauthorized parties.

DLP software aims to identify and classify crucial business data and pinpoint potential organization or policy packs violations. All of your regulated and classified data should be compliant with HIPPA, GDPR, PCI-DSS, or other customized policies depending on your company’s services and needs.

Once DLP identifies a violation, it initiates remediation protocols through alerts and encryption, thus preventing any end-user from accidentally sharing valuable data or falling victim to a successful malicious attack.

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The primary approach of DLP software is to focus on monitoring and control of endpoint activities.

It can filter corporate network data streams and examine data cloud behavior to secure your operational data in real-time. Alongside compliance and auditing assistance, DLP ensures essential data is available without compromise at all times.

Common causes of data compromise can be network malfunctions, negligent employee errors, or cyberattacks. Said attacks can come as ransomware, viruses, Trojans, DDoS, SQL injections, or others.

Data loss prevention emphasizes the following to neutralize all potential threats to your data:

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  • Enhanced data visibility within your company
  • Increased cybersecurity for local and cloud storage
  • Intellectual Property (IP) protection
  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII) protection in line with current regulations
  • Strengthened mobile and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security

How Does DLP Help Your Business?

Data loss protection comprises three significant business objectives – personal information protection, intellectual property protection, and comprehensive data usage reports.

Having any of those boosts your data security. Having all three can fortify your defenses against as many threats as possible.

Personal Information Protection

If you operate a modern business, chances are your company gathers Personally Identifiable Information, user financial details, or Protected Health Information. All of those are subject to different compliance regulations, and as such, you need to ensure their protection against malicious interfering.

We’ve mentioned HIPPA and GDPR, the main regulatory compliance policies companies use nowadays. However, global policies entail specific regulations for every company to identify sensitive data and monitor all surrounding activities. Here, DLP provides detailed reports to fulfill compliance audits.

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By having all sensitive data under monitoring, you can assure that your company handles vital user details with the utmost care. If DLP finds weak links in the data handling process, you can fix them as soon as possible.

Intellectual Property Protection

Intellectual Property protection identifies intellectual property to classify and protect it better, be it trade or state secrets. If IP is leaked or compromised, it can hurt your brand’s image and financial well-being incrementally.

Enterprises can store Intellectual Property data in unstructured or structured forms. Both options rely on strict security policies to deny unauthorized data access, including data encryption, regular data backups, and real-time cybersecurity protection.

Data Usage Reports

A comprehensive DLP plan can monitor data in transit within networks, cloud storage, and active endpoints. In addition to vulnerability assessment, DLP improves system administrators’ visibility – they can track how every user accesses data and bring the risk of a data leak to a minimum.

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When the people responsible for managing data transit know its course and actions, it’s easier to protect PII and IP. Furthermore, better monitoring translates to heightened efficiency in all company processes.

Different Approaches to DLP for Businesses

Any full DLP service aims to monitor and detect vulnerabilities that could lead to data leakage or compromise. With a reliable DLP solution, you can rid your company’s network of weakly guarded entry points for attackers by keeping all networks, devices, and storage options secured and optimized.

There are several types of DLP options to choose from depending on your company’s nature of operations.

Let’s go through them together.

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Network Protection for DLP

Network DLP solutions monitor, track, and report all data movements on your company network. They can do so by integrating data checkpoints to all software and hardware on your premises.

Implementing DLP on every device means every endpoint is secure – you can monitor who is accessing data, how they are using it, and where data goes at all times. In addition, most network protection solutions offer comprehensive reports to ease data management.

Here are the major benefits of using a network protection option:

  • Prevents data leakage from the network by securing ports and security protocols
  • Grants control and visibility over emails, SSL-enable sessions, and FTP
  • Monitors, inspects, and controls data traffic on web apps, emails, TCP/IP, FTP/S, and HTTP/S
  • Inspects email contents for sensitive content (messages, attachments, links)
  • Encrypts email contents (communication, attachments) and helps regulatory compliance
  • Prevents data loss through DPI
  • Monitors and blocks potentially malicious URLs and web apps
  • Eases data traffic reports
  • Educates users, employees, and admins on sensible data protection policies (with added alerts to signal for vulnerabilities)

Endpoint Protection for DLP

We’ve mentioned endpoint protection as a part of network protection DLP. Nonetheless, some DLP vendors provide services solely aimed at securing endpoints.

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Businesses use various devices to form a complex working system – PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. In such a case, any mobile device works as an external assistant to transport data more quickly and efficiently.

While efficiency is vital, we should be aware of the added risks of using different devices to transfer data. Any pen drive increases the chance of accidental leakage or data corruption by a third party. Endpoint protection DLP aims to protect all removable drives in use, so no data is breached, deleted, or held for ransom.

You can install endpoint protection software on all company devices to ensure external drives, clipboards, and sharing apps are inaccessible by outside parties. You can also monitor data traffic to improve security and increase transit efficiency.

Most endpoint solutions comprise:

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  • Data management and data controls
  • Secure Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP)
  • Ransomware rollback
  • Automated remediation
  • Antivirus threat protection in real-time
  • Data loss detection, analysis, and prevention
  • Fewer false positive alerts
  • Instant data loss incident response
  • Endpoint isolation to prevent successful attacks
  • Insider threat management

Storage Protection for DLP

Most companies would focus on securing data in transit because data in storage usually gives off a sense of security. It’s not moving, so nobody can intercept it, right? They can, however, breach your physical or cloud storage and gain access to their contents. Also, data can be accidentally leaked from storage due to human error.

Storage DLP strives to pinpoint confidential files in storage and monitor who accesses and shares them. Monitoring all sensitive data enables companies to identify potential vulnerabilities and secure endpoints before a data leakage can occur.

While storage protection is beneficial to on-site storage systems, it performs exceptionally for cloud-based storage.

Here are its main benefits:

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  • Scans and protects all stored files on the cloud
  • Regularly audits all uploaded files
  • Identifies and protects business-critical data on the cloud
  • Scans servers to detect and encrypt sensitive data before sharing it on the cloud
  • Alerts admins upon the risk of data leakage
  • Automates confidential data controls to comply with corporate policies (prompts, encrypts, and blocks data if needed)
  • Grants better cloud storage visibility and control to suit data privacy regulations and security protocols
  • Reduces the risk of data leakage in all virtual systems
  • Uses de-identification options to reduce risk even further (tokenization, masking)
  • Inspects all data stored regularly (both structured and unstructured storage)

Building a DLP Plan

Implementing robust DLP software is just one step of a comprehensive data protection strategy.

Businesses should rely on highly educated IT specialists, end-user awareness for employees, and best practices to structure on-site workstations, storage, and home-office devices. The most successful DLP strategies compile tech, educated staff, process controls, and company awareness.

First and foremost, you can strive to implement a single, centralized DLP plan across your company.

Companies with inconsistent DLP practices risk exposing less protected departments to more data leaks, leading to increased security costs. Also, company employees tend to follow a DLP plan better when the whole organization supports it.

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Once you get everyone on board, it’s critical to conduct inventory and assessment.

Evaluate data types of value to the company and identify their relevance; evaluation helps store the data respectful to its sensitivity. (users’ personal information, payment info, trade secrets, intellectual property, etc.)

Most DLP solutions offer tools to scan file metadata, catalog the results, analyze the files’ content, and estimate the associated risk with each data type. Moreover, a reliable solution can consider data exit points and calculate the expected cost of lost data in case of a leakage.

While this may sound overwhelming, businesses benefit immensely from DLP specialists on-site. You could hire a risk analyst, form a data breach response team, and bring in data usage analysts. A core of experienced professionals, combined with educated employees, raises efficiency and yields better DLP results.

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Lastly, every solid DLP plan takes time and effort. Trying to build all of the pieces at once may backfire, exposing critical data to compromise.

Here, slow and steady wins the race!

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Data Loss Prevention is Essential for Modern Businesses

We’d start by categorizing data types and securing communication channels. Afterward, you can implement security software components while educating your staff on best DLP practices.

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Alexandra Bohigian is the marketing coordinator at Enola Labs Software , a software development and AWS consulting company based in Austin, TX.