August 25, 2019

Data Loss Prevention Simplified: Why DLP is Important for Everyone?

In the digital world, everything is data — your bank account info, bills and other official docs, emails and messages, photos from the last holiday, etc.

Then, the question arises: isn’t your data important to you? Of course, it is. After all, who would dare to lose financial info, office files, or lovely photos.

That said, it brings us to another question: how to protect your data? The simple answer is Data Loss Prevention or “DLP”, which is the set of procedures and tools to protect data from all types of accidents. Sounds useful? Let’s learn more.

What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

First of all, let’s understand what’s data loss. Data loss is the deletion and/or transmission of any type of sensitive data from its original source (a person or an organization) to an external source (another organization) electronically or physically. That means the data gets accessed/copied without permission.

In short, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) helps you fight against various types of data loss to ensure your data is safe and secure with you. Now, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is the set of procedures and tools to make sure that important data is not lost, accessed, copied, or misused by malicious or unauthorized users.

Data loss usually occurs through emails, but it can also occur through portable data storage devices like flash drives, mobile phones, and portable hard disks. Data Loss Prevention — also known as Data Leakage Protection — is just the preventive measure for stopping data loss from your devices or institution.

Why DLP is Important for Everyone?

Data Loss Prevention is considered as a top priority for organizations as well as individuals. After all, every person or organization is duly concerned about their confidential data which usually travels through a number of devices such as laptops, flash drives and other portable devices, and network endpoints.

Data Loss Prevention, thanks to the always-in-motion data, is important yet more difficult to implement than a decade ago. That’s why DLP Solutions were developed, which help you or your organization implement data loss prevention measures as well as tools with minimal cost and effort. Sounds useful?

A Data Loss Prevention Solution identifies data, classifies data to segregate confidential or critical data, and monitors data activities to detect any type of policy violation. For example, a policy violation may include an employee trying to send a critical file via email or the web to a person outside the institution.

However, it’s found that negligent mistakes are a bigger contributor to successful breaches than strategic attacks. For example, 96% of the Americans think that employee negligence is a contributor to breaches, per a report by Shred It.

Then, what is the solution? Organizations must arrange proper training for their employees and implement DLP Solutions that track employee activities. These solutions can track activities (including negligent actions like copying insecure files) and flag them for review or quarantine per the configured policies.

That said, Data Loss Prevention is not just for organizations, but data security practices and tools are crucial for individuals as well. Why is it so? Read on.

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TheDigitalArtist (CC0), Pixabay

Importance of DLP for Everyday Users

Data Loss Prevention plays a critical role because of the important data present at a source, say an individual like you. Let’s see some examples to understand why an everyday user can’t afford to lose or get robbed of his/her data:

  • An individual has and stores important data including financial records like bank account or credit card numbers and official records.
  • A person also stores various kinds of confidential data such as medical records, personal photos, and videos, registration papers, etc.
  • If any part of such data is lost, the individual may lose its monetary value, say a financial document listing one’s shares in an institution.
  • If a part of one’s data gets stolen, one may get blackmailed for monetary or other favors or may receive an institutional or public penalty.

Importance of DLP for Organizations

Data Loss Prevention plays a crucial role in businesses since any organization depends on a lot of confidential data that is categorized as corporate assets. If this data gets leaked or stolen, it damages the company’s reputation and trust. DLP Solutions help solve this problem. Let’s visualize using examples:

  • An organization stores critical data such as its customers’ confidential data (like their user credentials, financial or medical records, etc.), asset and financial records, products’ pricing tables, and other records.
  • A DLP Solution enforces the security rules of a corporation to protect its confidential data from unauthorized users — malicious users as well as careless employees — to avoid the loss of any sensitive data.
  • Without a DLP Solution, an organization may lose its critical data to the hands of a hacker or one of its own malicious users. The data loss can also occur due to malware or virus downloaded via phishing emails.

Best Practices for an Effective DLP Plan

Let’s check the solutions’ top features and other practices to create an effective data leakage or data loss prevention plan in an organization, for example:

  • Apply the Policy of Least Privilege (POLP) – A person can’t leak or misuse data if he/she can’t access it. This policy restricts a person to access the data just required for his work, minimizing threats of data leak or misuse.
  • Apply Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy – A considerate amount of data breaches happen due to negligence. Such a policy helps to establish a regulation for who and what devices can access the critical data, thus minimizing the risk. Also, it stops diligent attackers from accessing data.
  • Remove Sensitive Data from Insecure Systems – A process of analyzing critical data and isolating it to most-secure systems is an important part of Data Leakage Prevention. For instance, credit card and social security numbers-like data shall not be stored on every terminal in your office.
  • Install Antivirus and Firewall at Network Endpoints – A basic protection can’t stop an attacker or hacker from accessing your systems, but it does provide a basic security shield to prevent basic to medium attacks, say introduce malware or virus directly or via a phishing or spam email.
  • Install Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems – An IDS solution help at early identifying the intrusion of an attacker into your systems. An IPS solution also provides automated protection against such intrusions, which if successful, can prevent intruders from getting access to data.

That’s all about the best practices and strategies, but here’s a crucial question:

How to choose a DLP Solution?

You must recognize the crucial data, then determine your primary data prevention goals, and then select a solution per your data and goals. For example, you may wish to protect your customers’ data and intellectual property and meet compliances per industry standards.

A combination that offer all-around protection against a multitude of attack vectors to protect sensitive data from accidents on top of a File Firewall which is an important part in DLP by monitoring access to critical data and stopping any unauthorized data access, would be ideal.

About the author 

Anu Balam

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