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Data is vital not only for business continuity but also for business survival. Organizations that experience data breaches may suffer from financial and reputational losses and a decrease in productivity – and if the breach isn’t handled properly, the organization may face bankruptcy. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) practices and solutions help organizations prevent data loss incidents through continual monitoring of data at all stages of its lifecycle, and the prompt response to attacks as they occur.
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What Is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is composed of a set of practices and tools that protect business information against data breaches, data exfiltration, and accidental data destruction. DLP helps organizations keep their data secure while complying with data regulations.
You can use DLP to:
- Monitor and manage data activity and access
- Prevent users from moving information outside the network
- Block ransomware attacks
- Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and intellectual property
- Comply with data and security regulations
- Gain data visibility
- Protect data against endpoints such as smartphones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices
- Secure data within cloud ecosystems and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments
Data Loss Prevention practices encompass a range of tasks, including employing a variety of technologies for securing the entire data lifecycle. Keep your DLP practices in line with your resources to ensure that your DLP covers all the edges of the perimeter of your network. Your data should be protected at all times. For example, you can encrypt data at rest and enforce access control and data retention policies. To secure data in motion, you can use tokenization.
Data Loss Prevention software is a dedicated tool for detecting and preventing potential or ongoing data threats. You can often enter your own policies, including compliance standards, into the DLP solution and configure the software to respond to policy breaches.
DLP software monitors and protects data at rest, data in motion, and data in use. Some DLP software provides an end-to-end solution for all three data types, while other solutions provide dedicated software, as follows:
- Storage DLP: For data at rest. Storage DLP helps organizations control who downloads and keeps business information and is often used to protect cloud and BYOD environments.
- Network DLP: For data in motion. A network DLP is deployed at the data points of the network and is used to monitor the flow of information through network ports and protocols.
- Endpoint DLP: For data in use. An endpoint DLP deploys agents on company endpoint devices such as workstations and is used to monitor and restrict the unauthorized transfer of information.
7 Reasons Why Data Loss Prevention Is Necessary for Business
1. Data Loss = Financial Loss
According to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study by Ponemon:
- The global average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million in 2018, an increase of 6.4% from 2017.
- In 2018, data loss and data exfiltration of sensitive and confidential information reached a new peak of $148 per record.
- Data losses cost the most in the United States, with the average total cost of data loss staked at $7.91 million.
Different people use data in different ways and for different reasons, but everyone uses data. In today’s digital landscape, cyber criminals, insider threats, and spies can make use of any scrap of data. From seemingly random names and dates to intellectual property, customer records, employee identities, and financial performance, the underground market expands from year to year, trading in the lost data of organizations from all over the world.
2. Data Loss = Damaged Reputation
For the past decade, every year has been crowned “The Year of the Data Breach,” with each year seeing a higher rate of breaches. Every time a breach is discovered, the internet explodes with articles about the incident, the parties involved, the victims, and the villains of the story.
You might think that the only villain would be the cyber-criminal who hacked the system, but they never share the harsh light of notoriety alone. The companies that fail to protect their systems and their users become just as vilified, if not more so, than the perpetrator. The hackers, if caught, risk criminal charges. Breached companies risk their reputation.
A shot reputation can be hard to recover from. According to a Centrify study, 65% of surveyed data breach victims lost trust in an organization as a result of the breach, with 27% of the victims going as far as discontinuing their relationship with the organization.
3. Data Loss Disrupts Business Continuity
Organizations experience a variety of data loss incidents at different scopes, but even the most seemingly inconsequential of data losses can create a disturbance to business continuity.
An employee may accidentally delete an important file. It can happen to anyone, and it happens on a fairly regular basis. You might come to work one day, open your computer, and discover a ransomware message waiting for you. Or, one day, in the midst of an important negotiation, you’ll get breached and lose access to the information necessary to close the deal.
In the business world, information is traded just as much – if not more than – monetary currency. People undergo the five stages of grief when they lose their data. Companies undergo a disruption to business continuity, some are even forced to close shop.
4. Protect Your Data from Insider Threats
Insider threats are individuals that either deliberately or accidentally cause damage to the organization.
An insider threat can be a well-intentioned employee, who falls prey to phishing schemes. The employee may get a legitimate-looking email that tricks them into clicking a button that deletes important files, or they may accidentally download malware or ransomware.
Insider threats can also cause damage intentionally. Some do so out of spite or greed – looking to express their dissatisfaction with the company or make money. Others are the victimized targets of social engineering schemes – employees who get blackmailed or duped into revealing company information.
5. Protect Your Data Against Insecure Endpoints
The rate at which technology advances leaves much to be desired in terms of security. Each disruptive technology shoots down another part of the centralized security perimeter. Cloud computing, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices, and the penetration of IoT devices has stretched the security perimeter.
Nowadays, every time an endpoint connects to the network it creates a blind spot that can be used as a point of exploitation. Attackers can use endpoints to inject malware and a host of vulnerabilities into the company network. An attacker can hitch a hike on the endpoint into the network, use one accessed account as an entry point to admin and root accounts.
6. Prevent Information Disclosure
Information disclosure occurs when applications fail to protect sensitive and confidential information from unauthorized entities. Information disclosure attacks target components of web applications and use or manipulate them to reveal sensitive and confidential information. The attacks can be initiated by internal threats or external actors.
7. Maintain Data Compliance
Data compliance regulations ensure that organizations are held to a standard level of data security. Here are three types of data regulations organizations should maintain:
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Protects the sensitive information of users.
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA): Protects the private and confidential information of health care and medical record.
- The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Protects the sensitive and financial information of credit cardholders.
Failure to comply with any of these three data compliance regulations may result in monetary or reputational loses.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) practices and technologies can help organizations prevent the catastrophic consequences of data loss. DLP practices can ensure that your DLP policies are met at every level of the organization, maintained and upheld by in-house personnel, third-party entities, and integrated technologies. DLP solutions can be deployed at the network, storage and endpoint levels, ensuring that your data is protected while at rest, in motion, and in use.