Read time: 6 minutes
Each year, more and more cyber attacks occur on organizations big and small. Ransomware attacks, supply chain attacks, and new types of attacks are created and used by threat actors to steal information and money. Without the proper safety precautions in place, even the biggest organizations have been affected, as has been seen in the recent months and years. That is why so many organizations are focusing their efforts on different cybersecurity tools and protection methods, such as Data Loss Prevention, or DLP. As organizations increase the amount of data they store and transmit, these types of tools become even more vital to the protection of an organization.
Data Loss Prevention, or DLP, protects and monitors data-in-transit, data-at-rest, and data-in-use. It tracks the data anywhere it is stored in the organization, thus alerting the security team or teams to any use of the data. These tools and methods work with the encryption policies and standards in an organization to ensure that the users within the organization, as well as applications and third-party solutions, are abiding by the rules set forth in these policies and standards. DLP tools work by creating a centralized location for managing, tracking, and remediating the improper use of an organization’s information. By supporting the standards and policies of an organization, those accessing and using information can be monitored to ensure that no confidential data leaves the organization and is used for improper purposes.
Why an Organization Should Use DLP
There are more reasons than just one as to why an organization should use DLP tools in their cybersecurity framework. Below are few other reasons to implement DLP safety measures in an organization:
- Some organizations do not know where all their data is stored and sent to.
Many organizations do not have the proper insight into their organization, where data is related. Data discovery and classification should be the first step any organization takes to become cryptographically secure and meet regulations for things like the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). If this is done improperly, or not at all, data may go unnoticed or be classified incorrectly, thus allowing threat actors to take this data for their own uses. Using tools like DLP, an organization can get a better view into the data they store, the types of data they store, and they can keep a better eye on the data as it is stored, in transit, or in use.
- Most organizations need to maintain a certain level of security for state and country regulations.
As mentioned previously, many regulations and standards exist in certain countries and states that detail how an organization stores and otherwise protects their data cryptographically. These regulations come from a number of different bodies, including the NIST, and they have different names, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. The standards and regulations employed by these bodies focus on protecting customers’ Personally Identifiable Information, or PII. These standards are vital, as this information being stolen could cause a customer to lose their identity, their money, or their livelihood. Using tools like DLP, data can be tracked and protected to the levels that standards and regulations require.
- Outside threats are considered, but insider threats are not considered.
Most organizations are on alert for outsider threats to the organization, such as lone-wolf hackers or hacker groups, but many fail to keep an eye on insider threats. DLP assists organizations with watching how data is accessed and transmitted, especially with employees of an organization. Keeping track of who accesses data when, and how that data is used, is the basis of what DLP does. This is why many organizations are recommended to put DLP products into their organization’s environment.
- An audit will be occurring in the near future.
Although DLP should be an early step taken by organizations, some will put DLP implementations into place due to an audit occurring in the near future. Failed audits can lose organizations money, reputation, and compliance status if the proper encryption and cryptography steps are not in place. DLP goes a long way toward making organizations compliant with standards and regulations. They can use DLP to ensure proper encryption and cryptography practices are being followed and find out where they are lacking in security. This can lead to better practices being put in place across an organization, thus reaching compliance and passing an audit successfully.
- The organization may want to defend against threat actors before they appear, as opposed to fixing a problem after a data breach occurs.
Many different organizations tend to focus on dealing with cyber attacks after they have already occurred. What organizations should instead be doing is putting mitigating factors in place before a threat occurs. This is the preferred method since protecting sensitive customer data before any threat actors can get near it assists in the process of saving the data from getting stolen in the first place, as well as deterring any attackers from going after that information. DLP is a great first line of defense, as using Data Loss Prevention tools helps track information and identify any gaps in security.
- Automation of data management and tracking is a high priority for many organizations.
Organizations tend to begin their security systems with manual security processes. This means data is tracked and identified by personnel and teams within the organization manually when they choose to do it. Instead, automated processes can be used, which will automatically check and track data and users in the organization’s environment. DLP is an example of a tool many organizations use to automatically track data and users who use and transmit that data. This is why so many companies use Data Loss Prevention to create a strong cyber security presence.
- An organization may work with a number of outside organizations that can access their systems.
Companies tend to work with a number of outside providers and customers, with a handful of those providers having access to the network and infrastructure provided by the company. If these users aren’t properly tracked and their access and use of data aren’t monitored, then data could be stolen or misused. DLP keeps an automated eye on data in use, data at rest, and data in motion, so anyone with access to the network will be noted if they use PII data. Another method organizations use to protect their data is to ensure only those people who need the data have access to it, and only for approved purposes. This is what is known as Enterprise Workflow Management. Approval is required to use data, and those requests for data are tracked.
Types of DLP Tools and Platforms
When talking about DLP, there are three different types that Data Loss Prevention comes in: Network DLP, Cloud DLP, and Endpoint DLP. Network DLP is the type of DLP I have talked about the most. This type of DLP deals with data moving inside the company. Network DLP sets up a defensive fence to track and monitor data within the organization. The idea behind this is that when data is attempted to be sent out, via email or any other method, automated actions take place, such as encryption, blocking, or auditing the data transfer. This can be set up within the organization ahead of time. Additionally, a message will usually alert administrators if sensitive data is attempting to leave the organization when it shouldn’t.
Endpoint DLP is more complicated to manage than network DLP, but it is usually considered stronger than network DLP. Endpoint DLP focuses on the devices that are part of the network, as opposed to the network itself. Each device that uses the network will have this endpoint DLP installed on it, tracking the data in motion and the data at rest on the device. Additionally, endpoint DLP tools can also detect if data is stored on the device unencrypted when it should actually be encrypted. As can be seen, installing and managing endpoint DLP on every device in a network is complicated and when done manually would take a lot of man hours to complete and keep up with. The final type of DLP is cloud DLP. This type of DLP is set up with certain cloud accounts, enforcing DLP rules and policies. Cloud tools, such as Office 365, integrate with cloud DLP tools to ensure these policies are met.
Having proper cyber security tools and platforms in place is extremely important to the safety of a company. Using DLP, any organization can get ahead of threat actors, whether they are inside or outside the organization. Protecting sensitive customer and organizational data is vital in any company, especially banks and health organizations. At Encryption Consulting, we make cyber security our highest priority. We work with organizations to create the most secure environment possible using methods such as DLP, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), and encryption assessments. We provide assessment, implementation, and development services for PKI, encryption, and Hardware Security Modules (HSMs). If you have any questions, visit our website at www.encryptionconsulting.com.