What Is Data Loss Prevention for Email?
An Overview of Data Loss Prevention for Email
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for email systems helps organizations prevent sensitive data within email from being lost, leaked, misused, or accessed by unauthorized individuals. Solutions for Data Loss Prevention in email monitor inbound and outbound messages, searching for any content or attachments that may be sensitive, confidential, private, or protected by regulation. When a message that contains sensitive data is found, email DLP systems may flag it, block it or delete it based on security policies.
Since email has become the predominant form of business communication, Data Loss Prevention for email is now considered an essential security technology. Email DLP solutions are designed to help address the many potential causes of data leaks and loss, including cyberattacks, malicious insiders, security negligence and human error.
How Data Is Lost or Leaked Via Email
Email messages and attachments may contain a great variety of sensitive material, from Social Security numbers and credit card information included in the text of an email to intellectual property and financial data collected in attachments.
This sensitive data may be lost or leaked via email in several ways.
- Inadvertent leaks occur when an employee attaches the wrong file to an email, sends sensitive information to the bad recipient list, forgets to encrypt a confidential file or unwittingly forwards an email with confidential information buried within a long conversation thread.
- Insider threats are scenarios where an employee or anyone with privileged network access surreptitiously sends sensitive data outside the organization. Employees about to quit may email copies of business plans and customer records to themselves for use in a future position. Other users may attempt to sabotage their employer by leaking sensitive information to the press or emailing confidential data to be sold on the dark web or black market for profit. Non-malicious insider threats include employees who send confidential files to a personal email address so they can work from home, not realizing that they are jeopardizing the security of sensitive information.
- Cybercriminals can use compromised credentials to access a business email account, allowing them to carry out a variety of attacks like business email fraud and CEO fraud campaigns designed to steal data and funds or set the stage for more extensive cyberattacks.
How Email DLP Works
Technology that enables Data Loss Prevention in email typically works by inspecting all messages and attachments to look for content that may represent a potential data leak. Email DLP solutions use a variety of techniques to identify sensitive information. These include:
- Rule-based searches. This technique uses specific rules to spot sensitive information like credit card numbers, telephone numbers or Social Security numbers.
- Exact matches. This approach searches for exact matches of specific documents and data that have been deemed confidential or sensitive.
- Pre-built categories. This technique relies on compliance standards to create rules that identify information protected by regulatory frameworks.
- AI/ML. Some solutions use artificial intelligence, natural language analysis and machine learning to identify sensitive data through statistical analysis.
When an email DLP solution identifies a potential leak or misuse, it will automatically perform steps prescribed by security policies.
- Flag the situation. When an action is not in clear violation of security policy or information is not highly sensitive, email DLP solutions may flag the incident, warning users that they may be making a mistake and allowing security teams to review the action.
- Block the action. Email DLP technology may prevent users from sending an email with clearly sensitive or confidential content.
- Delete the message. When a message contains sensitive material and violates policy concerning Data Loss Prevention for email, the system may automatically delete the message.
Other Types of Data Loss Prevention Solutions
Solutions for Data Loss Prevention for email are most effective when deployed with a comprehensive DLP program that protects all areas of an IT environment.
- Network DLP solutions monitor all data entering and leaving the network from any connected device to enforce DLP policies for transmitting, accessing, using or destroying sensitive data without authorization.
- Endpoint Data Loss Prevention technologies protect sensitive assets on laptops, desktops, servers, smartphones, Internet of Things devices and other endpoints. By monitoring and controlling access to data on individual devices, endpoint DLP solutions help prevent sensitive information from being accidentally or maliciously leaked by users no matter where they go.
- Cloud Data Loss Prevention services monitor data moving to and from the cloud to prevent accidental leaks, insider threats and cyberattacks. Cloud Data Loss Prevention security technologies help enforce encryption and ensure data is routed to the right cloud services while delivering greater visibility of all data stored in the cloud.
Forcepoint DLP for Cloud Email
Dedicated to simplifying security for global businesses and governments, Forcepoint provides Data Loss Prevention for email to prevent leaks and misuse of data via email channels. Forcepoint DLP for Cloud Email enables organizations to:
- Extend DLP protections to email channels.
- Combine Data Loss Prevention for an email with other DLP channel protection for maximum data security.
- Create and deploy one policy across all channels simultaneously, protecting data within an email, web, network, cloud and endpoints.
- Enhance compliance with 3x more pre-defined policies than any other DLP provider.
- Identify high-risk user behavior to bring actual security incidents to the surface.
- Give users automated feedback when they perform inappropriate actions.
- Add antivirus, URL sandboxing, antispam, anti-spoofing, content filtering and encryption control.
- Scale easily with a fully managed DLP service in the cloud.
Forcepoint also provides solutions for Data Loss Prevention in Google Cloud, G Suite, and Microsoft Office. Contact Forcepoint to learn more about Data Loss Prevention security costs.