What is Data Loss Prevention?
Data Loss Prevention: An Overview
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) prevents sensitive information from being leaked, lost, misused or accessed by unauthorized individuals. DLP solutions prevent loss and leaks through various means, including data inspection, data encryption, threat detection, preventative measures, user education, and security policies blocking sensitive information from exfiltration.
Data Loss Prevention software has become a critical part of the technology stack as cloud computing, hybrid workforces and BYOD trends have fundamentally changed IT environments and increased the size of the attack surface. Organizations also require DLP solutions to manage compliance with many data privacy regulations, including HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR and SOX.
How Data Loss Happens
Data may be lost in a variety of ways.
- Malicious insiders. Insider threats are among the most dangerous types of data leaks since many security solutions fail to monitor trusted user interactions with data and applications adequately. Malicious insiders may include current and former employees, vendors, business partners and other individuals with access to network resources.
- Exfiltration. Data exfiltration is the act of transferring data from a device inside a network to an outside destination. Exfiltration often results from cyberattacks involving phishing, malware, DDoS attacks or code injection. Exfiltrated data may include intellectual property, login credentials, financial account numbers, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data.
- Negligence. Data loss is often the result of negligence or unintentional exposure. Accidental leaks may occur when employees unintentionally share sensitive information with users outside the organization via email or filesharing services or fail to encrypt files before sending. Data may also be jeopardized when physical devices like laptops or USB flash drives are lost. Misconfigured software settings, recycled passwords, and unpatched software vulnerabilities may lead to breaches that allow cyber criminals to access sensitive data quickly.
How DLP Solutions Work
Data Loss Prevention software uses multiple tools to identify sensitive information within an IT environment, monitor data flow in and out of the organization, and block sensitive data from leaving the organization based on security policies.
DLP solutions use multiple techniques to identify potential leaks and losses.
- Identifying data. Preventing data loss begins by identifying sensitive information within the IT environment so that DLP technology knows which data assets to look for when monitoring traffic.
- Monitoring for leaks. Automated Data Loss Prevention processes identify and detect data being exfiltrated, misappropriated, or misplaced within the IT environment.
- Protecting data in motion. As data moves between locations, DLP security deploys several measures to ensure that it arrives safely at its destination.
- Securing data at rest. Data stored within databases, file systems or the cloud may be protected by endpoint Data Loss Prevention and cloud Data Loss Prevention solutions that enforce encryption policies and prevent unauthorized access.
- Protecting data in use. Data can be protected from unauthorized alteration, printing, copying, and pasting by constantly monitoring the interaction between data and users/applications.
Best Practices for Data Loss Prevention
Organizations that follow best practices of Data Loss Prevention can implement an effective DLP program more easily while minimizing the cost of Data Loss Prevention software.
- Choose a comprehensive solution. When organizations implement multiple-point solutions and adopt ad-hoc DLP policies, the inevitable result is a lack of visibility and weak security. A complete, centralized solution will significantly simplify the management of DLP programs and enhance DLP efforts.
- Ensure adequate internal resources. Managing a Data Loss Prevention plan requires personnel with expertise in data protection laws, risk analysis, breach response, training, and security awareness.
- Classify data assets. Successful Data Loss Prevention programs start by creating a classification of types of data and their value to the organization, making it easier to enforce DLP policies. Classes of data may include personally identifiable information, financial data, regulated information, intellectual property, and other types of files.
- Identify sensitive files. After creating a classification system, organizations can inventory files to identify where sensitive data resides and its associated risks. Some Data Loss Prevention solutions can help this effort by quickly searching for and cataloging data assets.
- Begin in stages. Successful Data Loss Prevention programs are built one step at a time, prioritizing the most sensitive assets and channels first.
- Establish policies. DLP policies outline how, by whom, and where sensitive data may be used. These policies allow a Data Loss Prevention solution to identify when data is being leaked or accessed by unauthorized users.
- Train employees. Education and awareness programs are essential to successful Data Loss Prevention, helping employees to understand the importance of data privacy and security and their role in implementing DLP best practices.
Data Loss Prevention with Forcepoint
As a leading user and data security company, Forcepoint offers Data Loss Prevention solutions built for today’s most challenging data security risks. Forcepoint DLP enables businesses to intuitively discover, classify, monitor, and protect data while adding zero friction to the user experience.
With Forcepoint DLP, security teams can:
- Streamline Data Loss Prevention by replacing broad, sweeping rules with individualized, adaptive data security that doesn’t add friction to the user experience.
- Simplify compliance by viewing and controlling all data with the industry’s most extensive library of pre-defined policies.
- Ensure compliance with data privacy regulations across 80+ countries for GDPR, CCPA, and more.
- Protect critical intellectual property with greater accuracy.
- Track interaction with intellectual property in both structured and unstructured forms.
- Prevent low and slow data theft even when user devices are off the network.
- Automatically block actions based on a user's risk level with risk-adaptive data protection.
Forcepoint DLP offers additional capabilities that are unavailable in Data Loss Prevention for Google or Data Loss Prevention in Office 365. Forcepoint enables teams to customize DLP policies by geography and industry and to use granular data fingerprinting within documents and database records. Forensic data can be stored with encryption, and Forcepoint can detect data hidden in images with Optical Character Recognition (OCR).