Components of a Data Loss Prevention Solutions

We define data loss prevention solutions as the provisions and practices a company implements to safeguard all critical data from being misused, lost, or accessed by anyone unauthorized.  

These protection controls are crucial to help mitigate data loss, data leakage, and data exfiltration risks. With a data loss prevention plan, an organization can secure and classify sensitive information with risk-appropriate controls in place, ensuring minimal impact on business operability. 

Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions are tools or strategies as part of a larger data protection protocol used to identify, track, and save any form of confidential data. These procedures keep tabs on who accesses your data, when it’s done, and how they do so.

Modern data is stored on many computing devices or services, such as physical servers or cloud-based ones. Local databases, file servers, USB drives, and mobile devices are also used for data storage. Moreover, data moves through various access points, including wireless, wireline, LANs, VPNs, etc.

With data loss solutions, you can prevent data loss, tackle data leaks, and implement data recovery practices.

In the following blog post, we describe some data loss prevention solutions while raising awareness about the importance of data loss prevention.


Securing Data in Motion

Data in motion is the bane of the existence of most IT departments. Most data being moved without direct knowledge of your IT department is going under shadow mode. Shadow data moves with no visibility able to trigger reports or alerts. There’s no integration allowing you to extract data from unauthorized systems. 

However, network-based data loss prevention solutions monitor network traffic at the “perimeter” of a corporate network. This way, a company can investigate email traffic, social media activity, instant messaging interaction, SSL traffic, and web 2.0 applications. These tools are typically designed to flag any violations of predefined data disclosure policies or data leaks.

The best network-based data loss prevention solution to secure data in motion is to restrict the use of cloud-based services from third parties. Dropbox and Gmail are secure, but their domains are public. It’s best to work with your company’s infrastructure to move network-based data safely. Another step is to keep tabs on the critical assets of your company. These digital files should have limited access only to trustworthy team members.

Last but not least, look for security frameworks such as the ones described in PCI, HIPAA, GDPR, and ISO 27001 standards. Most of them recommend various options to keep the data in motion secure. But the best data loss solutions always have more than one failsafe in place, such as:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Automation of files based on tasks
  • Policy management rules
  • Data integration protocols
  • Tamper-evident audit trails
  • Enforcing email security best practices

Securing Endpoints

Endpoints are the physical standpoints where your data begins its distribution. Data loss prevention solutions at this level are designed to protect devices, even though the final goal is to protect the complete network of your company. A definitive endpoint DLP solution is basic encryption for all company data transferred to external devices, locked under keys only the employee would know. These are designed to access off-site data safely.

Endpoint DLP solutions are usually event-driven i.e. monitoring for specific user actions, such as copying a file onto a USB, sending an email, or printing a document. The IT department can usually configure such a solution to either actively block certain activities or passively monitor all activity.

Securing endpoints also relies on traditional means of protection such as antivirus software, automated app updates, multi-factor authentication, etc. You can also keep your endpoints secured by purging all unnecessary data from customers and employees. Make sure to keep all your technology up to date, too. Routine patches for endpoints increase security. There’s also the ongoing need to keep a solid DLP solution to recover data in case of attack.


Securing Data at Rest

Data at rest is static data stored on hard drives, servers, databases, Sharepoint, or flash drives within a company’s datacenter infrastructure. This data typically requires a storage-based DLP solution. Data at rest is not often modified, and many companies make the costly mistake of leaving it unprotected. 

Data at rest is often protected with only a basic antivirus or firewall program. You can secure such data in a single workstation, but if the terminal is connected to the network, all the data is open to attacks from third parties or malicious actors. 

Storage-based DLP solutions identify where sensitive data is stored, helping to determine whether it’s stored securely. Inadequate data retention policies are often the cause of insufficient safety measures for confidential data at rest.

The best data loss prevention DLP solutions for data at rest are preventative measures. You can guard the data with anti-deletion protocols, set up encryption protocols, and block access with specific security clearances. Before implementing any of these mechanisms, thoroughly check all your data and determine what’s valuable and disposable to create solid backups.


Securing Data in Use

Data resembles a living entity since it’s constantly changing. Data loss prevention solutions need to be applied when your data is being modified in any form. It can be through the use of basic browsers, copied to clipboards, or even saved on external devices. You need proper procedures to control data access, such as granting specific clearance to users based on their position in the company.

Data restriction sounds like a strict measure, but it’s not a matter of trust. It’s about avoiding human error. Data ID can also help monitor and flag any unauthorized activities that employees may perform (intentionally or unintentionally) during their interactions with company data.

By enabling access to specific data hubs, you can implement metadata principles to block access to raw data and keep sensitive information under wraps. While complex, this process can be done simultaneously as you organize your data fields.


Data Identification

Data identification is a process where a company’s IT department is tasked with identifying and detecting everything deemed sensitive or critical for business operability. The most intelligent DLP solution you can embrace is nitpicking your data bit by bit. This data loss prevention solution relies on tags to understand the priority level of every scrap of data generated by your servers. 

There’s special AI software created to handle this task based on patterns. Pre-programmed data loss solutions work much better than relying on user-driven data classification. They also provide excellent visibility for breach detection attacks. Once such AI tools can understand your data flow, they will handle all telemetry aspects of your data, analyze it, and stop any detected anomalies.


Data Leak Detection

Ongoing monitoring is an often overlooked DLP solution. When you have your data monitored, spotting any data leaks gets easier. You can rely on behavioral analytics, usually a built-in feature of DLP solution software. The data lets you know when something unusual comes up. Your data loss prevention solution plan can include how to take action based on these reports. You can also set up custom firewalls to detect anything abnormal. 

With a strong firewall and any other DLP solution in place, you can record granular data about the people accessing your files inside the company. You get information on users, files accessed, and their time of response. You can also configure your DLP solution to alert the IT department and block access to files from anyone without the proper clearances. This can help you mitigate leaks or even prevent ransomware.


Final Thoughts

There are many ways to prevent data loss. The components of data loss solutions we’ve discussed are some of the vital strategies you can embrace to safeguard your company’s data. Your data in motion is as important as your data at rest. 

Keep in mind that it’s up to you to streamline the process to store usable data and make it manageable. Remember to ID your data to get a good grip of what’s sensitive and what needs to be purged. Use analytics to keep an eye on leaks and improve your DLP solution by using the latest versions of security software available.


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