What is DLP?

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Organizations face increasing attacks that leverage multiple threat vectors to steal data. More organizations are investing in robust DLP solutions to protect their interests, clients, and employees and satisfy regulations as a result.

DLP definition: What is DLP (data loss prevention)

In a nutshell, DLP means Data Loss Prevention. But what is data loss prevention exactly? The short answer is that DLP is all about enhancing an organization’s data security. The long answer is that DLP is a compilation of policies, tools, and systems that mitigate the risk of data theft.

How does DLP security work?

So how does DLP security work? Organizations rely on a compilation of data loss prevention solutions to mitigate the risk of data leakage:

  • DLP monitoring systems utilize specific rules to identify suspicious patterns. For example, a content inspection system will recognize attempts to email sensitive strings of digits like credit card or social security numbers.
  • DLP control mechanisms search for exact matches from live dumps in a process called database fingerprinting.
  • File-matching data loss prevention tools compare file hashes with fingerprints.
  • Machine Learning DLP systems hunt for policy violations and other indicators of data leakage.
  • Employee training seminars, email reminders, and educational videos help prevent data loss.
  • Robust Endpoint Detection and Response systems assist with DLP by shielding vulnerable endpoints such as laptops, desktops, devices, and servers.

Why is DLP important?

DLP is essential because data is a precious commodity in the modern age. Threat actors increasingly use Trojans, spyware, ransomware, phishing, spear-phishing, whaling, watering hole attacks, corporate espionage, and other tactics to target confidential information and generate revenue. In fact, research from IBM indicates that data breach costs surged 13% from 2020 to 2022. In 2021, the cost of an average was USD 4.24 million.

A data leak can also negatively impact an organization's operational capacity, assets, reputation, and future. Victims of data breaches can suffer from blackmail, identity theft, and financial fraud. Organizations failing to meet GDPR or Data Protection Act regulations face serious consequences such as fines and other repercussions.

Types of DLP Solutions

  1. A network DLP is a vital solution that monitors fluid data to detect and block attempts at data exfiltration.
  2. Endpoint data loss prevention tools plug entry points, security holes, and other vulnerabilities by actively monitoring and blocking suspicious activity.
  3. Cloud DLP mechanisms utilize centralized policies to monitor and protect sensitive data across cloud-based applications such as emails.

Choosing a DLP software

 Select DLP software or any other DLP tool that offers the following types of support and capabilities

  • Analytics: Like any top data loss prevention software, it should offer best-in-class analytics features with minimal false-positive rates.
  • Content Blocking: A top DLP system should offer monitoring and content blocking to prevent expensive data breaches.
  • Cloud:Not only should your DLP solution protect your cloud-based assets with excellent cloud security, but it should also be cloud-based; accessible remotely in case local infrastructure is unavailable.
  • Flexible:Any security tool should be flexible to suit your policies, architecture, and implementation.
  • Scalable: The best systems are highly scalable, suiting large and small organizations without requiring excessive server assets. Scalable solutions allow companies to be more agile.

The Benefits of DLP

Strong DLP policies help organizations with legal compliance. Such policies also shield the privacy and security of users. Organizations should also avoid data breaches to protect their reputation and business health.

Legal compliance

There seems to be news of a major data breach every month, and people are frustrated. With organizations only offering half-hearted apologies while leaving users to deal with the consequences, lawmakers worldwide are stepping in to implement comprehensive privacy rules.

Regulations like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) offer users more control over their sensitive information. Organizations must harden security stances and processes to protect information in accordance with these laws.

Companies that fail to comply can face severe fines and may even have to pay court-mandated financial relief to victims. 

Protect personal data

Stronger DLP policies help protect some of the following Personally Identifiable Information (PII):

  1. Names
  2. Home addresses
  3. Email addresses
  4. Banking data
  5. Credit card information
  6. Account information
  7. Social security numbers
  8. Driver’s license numbers
  9. Race
  10. Religion
  11. Sexual orientation
  12. Social media profiles
  13. IP addresses
  14. Online browsing habits
  15. And more

Prevent unauthorized use of data

Threat actors can use sensitive data like PII or login credentials to steal assets from people, steal their identity, or extort them for money. They can also sell PII on the Dark Web. Buyers of stolen information can leverage the data for all types of cybercrimes, including ransomware attacks.

Avoid data breaches

Organizations must avoid data breaches to protect their reputation. While larger organizations can go unscathed, some small to medium-sized businesses don’t recover from a data breach. Companies that suffer expensive cybersecurity attacks can also turn into repeat targets.

What is a DLP policy

In a nutshell, an organization’s DLP policy sets rules around how they manage data. A robust DLP policy identifies, tracks, and protects confidential information. Organizations that successfully shield information utilize strong policies and the best DLP solutions. 

How to prevent data loss

Organizations must adopt a holistic approach to prevent data loss in the face of complex threats. Cutting-edge DLP software, monitoring systems, and policies, alongside employee training and refreshers, are the best way to defend information.

Preventing data loss is also about taking personal responsibility. Please take the time to learn how to protect yourself against data theft. A threat actor could use your data to attack you, your friends, your family, your employer, or your business.

Find out how Malwarebytes Business Solutions protect your endpoints, servers, and systems, try our free business trial.

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Featured Resources

Data Loss Prevention FAQs

  • Identify sensitive data and valuable assets
  • Set-up strict patch management policies
  • Use data encryption
  • Harden endpoints and systems
  • Define access control list
  • Consider automating security

The three core types of DLP software are endpoint DLP, network DLP, and cloud DLP. In commonality, all three types of data loss prevention focus on data protection but different security methods are used depending on the environment.

What is a data loss prevention strategy? In simple terms, your organization's DLP strategy centers on monitoring, detecting, and safeguarding data while in states of use, transfer, or storage. Your business' sensitive data and intellectual property (IP) are among the collateral following a data breach. Learn how to protect your organization from unwanted cyberattacks, view Malwarebytes EDR demo.

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