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Data Leak Causes
- Data exfiltration by cybercriminals
Cybercriminals target sensitive data and use multiple techniques like phishing, malware, social engineering, and injection attacks to gain access to the organization’s sensitive data and exfiltrate it.
- Unintentional data exposure
Some of the data leaks happen due to human errors. An employee might misconfigure access to sensitive data in the cloud or expose secrets in code repositories.
- Malicious insiders
A disgruntled employee might compromise privileged user accounts to exfiltrate sensitive data outside the organization.
Data Loss Prevention
Use Cases for DLP
The organizations that collect and store Personally Identifiable information (PII), payment card information or protected health information (PHI) need to adhere to compliance regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA and PCI-DSS. A DLP solution helps the organization to follow these regulations by identifying, classifying, and monitoring sensitive data.
- IP protection
A DLP solution also helps an organization classify its intellectual property and protect against unauthorized access and exfiltration of trade secrets.
- Data visibility
A DLP solution can also help an organization track data-at-rest and in-motion on endpoints, networks, and cloud. This provides organizations with more visibility into the types of data stored on the endpoints and in the cloud.
Types of DLP Solutions
- Endpoint DLP
An endpoint DLP solution monitors data on the devices in the network. This solution is installed on endpoints like laptops, servers, smartphones, printers, etc, to monitor and protect the data residing on them. Endpoint DLP protects data on these endpoints even if the endpoint is offline or connected to a public network. This solution also prevents transferring of sensitive data to USBs.
- Network DLP
This DLP solution is implemented on the network and monitors data-in-transit. All the incoming and outgoing data can be monitored, protected, and blocked from any device connected to the network. The DLP policies can be enforced on all the devices connected to the network. This solution can only protect data on the devices connected to the network and cannot protect data on offline devices.
- Email DLP
The email DLP solution monitors and filters emails based on certain keywords. This solution can reduce the data leakage through emails.
- Cloud DLP
A cloud DLP solution monitors and protects the data stored in the cloud. The solution can protect and monitor emails, documents, and other types of files.
DLP Best Practices
Determine the primary data protection objective in order to determine the appropriate DLP solution for the organization.
Implement a centralized DLP program and work together with different business units and departments to define consistent DLP policies that govern the organization’s data. This will increase data visibility across the organization.
Conduct an assessment on the types of data and its value to the organization. Identify the data, whether it is sensitive data and its storage locations. Evaluate the data exit points. Then evaluate the risk to the organization for each type of data if it is leaked.
Create a data classification system for both structured and unstructured data. Data classifications might include internal, confidential, public, personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property, and others.
Create data handling and remediation policies for different types of data. DLP solutions have pre-configured rules based on various regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, etc. These rules can be customized as per the organization’s needs. Develop controls for reducing data risk. Organizations should develop granular, fine-tuned controls to reduce the specific data risks.
Educate employees to reduce the risk of accidental data loss by insiders. Employee awareness and understanding of security policies is very important for a successful data loss prevention program. Awareness programs and trainings such as posters, emails, online trainings, and workshops can help in improving the employee understanding and adherence to data security policies and best practices.