What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

DLP software classifies regulated sensitive and business-critical data and identifies violations of specific policies or predefined sets of organizational policies (often governed by regulatory rules such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GDPR). Once these violations are identified, corrective actions can be implemented through alerts, encryption, and other security measures to ensure that end users are not inadvertently or maliciously sharing data that could compromise the organization.

How DLP Works

There are two ways to analyze DLP solutions: parsing data to put content into context and parsing content based on string matching. As with linguistic analysis, the meaning of words depends on their content, and while DLP solutions can filter attacks based on words, they must also understand words based on their form and how they are embedded in communication. This technique is especially important in email and DLP network security.

Causes of Information Leakage

There are three common causes of information leaks. Insider Threats – Malicious insiders or attackers attempt to compromise privileged user accounts and abuse privileges to move data outside the organization. Hacker attacks by attackers – Many cyber attacks target sensitive data. Attackers attempt to breach security perimeters and gain access to sensitive data through phishing, malware, code injection, and other methods.

Accidental or negligent data breaches – Many data breaches occur when employees publicly lose sensitive data, openly access data over the Internet, or fail to restrict access according to organizational policies.

What should data loss prevention include? Data in use, data in motion, and data at rest are all important parts of a DLP strategy. Most data loss prevention technologies protect data in use, i.e., data that is being actively processed by endpoints and applications.

These protections typically include user authentication and resource access control. Other data loss prevention techniques ensure that sensitive data transmitted over the network does not pass through insecure pathways or outside the organization.

What are the benefits of DLP?

Some of the benefits of using data loss prevention software are obvious, while others are less intuitive. Properly implemented, DLP security can ensure regulatory compliance.

For example, laws such as HIPAA, CCPA, and GDPR require knowing where personal/patient data is located and how it is shared and processed, and data loss prevention software can make this possible. DLP can also prevent personal information from being inadvertently copied, pasted, uploaded, or printed to other areas of the network and used in unwanted ways.