What Is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

DLP Integration and Its Role in Secure File Sharing

What Is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a type of security measure that helps organizations protect valuable data from loss, theft, or misuse. DLP uses specific software, hardware, and procedures to detect, monitor, and secure sensitive content when it’s stored, sent, or received. DLP helps protect confidential information from being accidentally or maliciously compromised or stolen, and can also help organizations comply with regulatory requirements. DLP solutions can be used to monitor confidential content such as customer information, payment details, and intellectual property.

With new regulations and standards such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), organizations are realizing the need to protect their sensitive content and demonstrate regulatory compliance, and are therefore taking steps to protect themselves from cyber threats such as unauthorized data access.

Why Data Loss Prevention? Factors Driving DLP Adoption

As data breaches increase in frequency and sophistication, DLP integrations may represent one of the last lines of defense in protecting an organization’s sensitive content. By applying data analysis to monitor, detect, and block sensitive content when it is in use, in transit, and at rest, a DLP integration prevents the inadvertent disclosure or mishandling of confidential content, either intentionally (by a hacker) or unintentionally (by a careless employee).

But preventing data leaks isn’t the only driver behind DLP technology adoption. Here are some others:

  1. Increase in Remote Work: Businesses are increasingly transitioning to a remote work environment due to the global pandemic, creating a need to protect business networks, data, and devices from data leaks and remote threats. DLP solutions can help organizations secure these systems and protect their content.
  2. Compliance Requirements: Organizations must adhere to data protection regulations and other compliance standards, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and others. DLP solutions help organizations comply with these regulations by providing granular data control and monitoring.
  3. Rise of Cloud Storage: Cloud storage provides immense cost savings, scalability, and collaboration opportunities to organizations. However, it also increases the risk of data breaches, as the content is stored outside of the organization’s control. DLP solutions can help organizations protect their cloud-stored content.
  4. Mobile Security: Businesses are expanding to a mobile workforce and utilizing mobile devices for data-centric activities as well. DLP solutions can help organizations protect their content from threats from mobile devices.
  5. Insider Threats: Insider threats are the most probable and costly threats to organizations. DLP solutions can detect and prevent malicious activities such content theft and leakage.
  6. Rise of Data Breaches: With the rise of cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches, organizations are in need of effective data loss prevention solutions in order to protect their content and systems.
  7. Big Data Analytics: Big data analytics tools collect, store, and analyze large amounts of data. These tools have significantly increased organizations’ visibility into how their business operates and how it can operate more efficiently. Unfortunately, the increase in data and systems used to store and analyze that data have opened up new opportunities for data theft and leakage. DLP solutions can help organizations secure their most sensitive content and protect against these threats.

Dedicated DLP vs. Integrated DLP

Data loss prevention includes both dedicated data loss prevention and integrated data loss prevention approaches, each of which utilizes different strategies and layers of security to protect content.

Dedicated data loss prevention is specifically designed to prevent confidential content from being lost, stolen, or otherwise exposed. This type of prevention entails a series of strategies that are meant to create an environment where content is protected from unauthorized external access. Examples include limiting access to confidential data, encrypting content, and notifying IT personnel if confidential data is identified as being accessed by an unauthorized user.

Integrated data loss prevention, by contrast, is a type of DLP that allows organizations to protect their content by integrating multiple security layers. Instead of relying on one layer such as encryption, organizations can use multiple layers such as user authentication, access control, and data masking to prevent data loss and unauthorized access. This type of DLP not only prevents data loss, but also ensures that the content is secure whenever it’s accessed.

Data Loss Prevention Tools and Technologies

Data loss prevention (DLP) consists of a set of tools and technologies that are designed to prevent sensitive and confidential content from being accidentally or intentionally leaked, stolen, or lost. These tools and technologies can be classified into three main categories:

  1. Network DLP tools: These tools monitor the traffic on the network to identify and prevent the transmission of sensitive content outside the organization. They can monitor email, web traffic, file transfers, and other network activity to identify patterns that indicate data leakage. They can also control access to certain websites or block certain attachments from being sent.
  2. Endpoint DLP tools: These tools are installed on endpoints such as laptops, desktops, or mobile devices to monitor and control the usage of content. They can prevent sensitive content from being copied to USB drives or uploaded to cloud services, and can also enforce encryption policies to protect data at rest.
  3. Cloud DLP tools: These tools monitor cloud services such as Dropbox, Office 365, and Google Drive to ensure that sensitive content is not inadvertently shared or stored inappropriately. They can scan files and content within the cloud environment to identify personally identifiable information and protected health information (PII/PHI), financial information, customer data, intellectual property, or other sensitive content and prevent it from being accessed or shared improperly.

Some common features of DLP tools include:

Policy creation and management: DLP tools allow the creation and management of policies that determine how sensitive content is handled and protected within an organization.

Data classification: DLP tools can classify content based on its sensitivity, and apply appropriate policies to protect it.

Data discovery: DLP tools can scan an organization’s systems and network to identify where sensitive content is stored, and who has access to it.

User activity monitoring: DLP tools can monitor user activity on endpoints and networks to identify unusual or suspicious behavior that may indicate a potential data breach.

Incident response: DLP tools can alert administrators to potential data breaches, and provide tools for investigating and responding to incidents.

Data Loss Prevention for Enhancing Secure File Sharing

proper DLP solution includes centralized management, policy creation, and enforcement workflow, all focused on monitoring and protecting content and data, including data on the move through secure file sharing. As a result, the DLP function significantly enhances an organization’s ability to classify, manage, understand and, of course, protect their most sensitive content.

Given the current threat landscape and the critical role DLP plays in preserving enterprise content, it should be clear that if your organization doesn’t have a DLP solution or DLP integration, it should. And if your organization does have a DLP solution, you shouldn’t purchase any enterprise software that doesn’t support your DLP solution and processes – particularly if that software accesses, shares or stores sensitive enterprise content.

This is easier said than done. Safeguarding content from data loss is complicated by the fact that modern enterprises have content stored in lots of different on-premises and cloud-based systems, such as Office 365, SharePoint, Windows File Shares, Box, and many more. While storing content on one platform isn’t realistic, neither is expecting a DLP solution to integrate across all of these systems.

DLP Best Practices Strengthen Data Security

By following data loss prevention best practices, organizations can significantly strengthen their data security and protect their confidential content from unauthorized access. Some DLP best practices include:

  1. Implement Access Controls: Access controls are one of the most important data loss prevention best practices. Implementing strong access controls, like two-factor authentication, is a great way to protect your organization’s content from unauthorized access.
  2. Encrypt Your Data: Encryption is a critical aspect of data loss prevention best practices. It’s important to encrypt all content, both at rest and in transit, so that even if a malicious actor gets access to your content, they’ll be unable to read it.
  3. Monitor User Activity: User activity monitoring helps detect situations when content may be accessed by unauthorized individuals. Regularly review access logs and other information to detect any unusual activities that could indicate a breach.
  4. Create Backup Procedures: Create a backup plan and schedule that together ensure a timely backup and storage of your content. That way, your organization will be able to quickly recover any data that has been lost or stolen.
  5. Educate Your Employees: Data loss prevention best practices also include educating your employees about the importance of protecting confidential and sensitive content. Make sure your staff is aware of the risks involved in sharing or mishandling data and the potential consequences.

Priorities for Data Loss Prevention

The following priorities are important for effective DLP:

  1. Data classification and labeling: Properly identifying and labeling sensitive data is key to effective DLP. This ensures that the right content is protected and maximum security is provided.
  2. Risk assessment and management: Prioritizing risk assessments and managing risks proactively helps to prevent data breaches and other security incidents.
  3. Employee training and awareness: Providing regular training and awareness sessions to employees about data security policies and procedures is key to maintaining a secure workplace culture where employees are vigilant and careful with sensitive content.
  4. Monitoring and alerting: Implementing a robust monitoring and alerting system can help identify potential security breaches and enable rapid response to mitigate the risk.
  5. Incident response planning: Being prepared to respond to a security incident is crucial to minimize the impact of one. The organization should have a well-defined and tested incident response plan that outlines what steps should be taken in the event of a breach or other cyber incident.
  6. Compliance with regulations and standards: Compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and PCI DSS is important to avoid legal and financial repercussions and maintain the trust of customers and stakeholders.
  7. Continuous improvement and adaptation: DLP strategies should be continuously reviewed, updated, and adapted to address new threats and changes in the organization’s data security landscape.
  8. Collaboration and communication: Effective DLP requires collaboration and communication with all stakeholders, including IT, legal, HR, and senior management, to ensure that everyone is aligned on data protection policies and procedures.

Data Loss Prevention Software and the Kiteworks Platform

At Kiteworks, we recognize the complexity that results from organizations using multiple on-premises and cloud-based content systems for storing and managing data. At the same time, we recognize the need for standardized DLP capabilities across all these content systems to provide consistent, comprehensive secure file sharing.

The Kiteworks Private Content Network is uniquely capable of integrating with your DLP solution to scan every file uploaded to and downloaded from an on-premises or cloud-based enterprise content management (ECM) system. With the Kiteworks platform, you can integrate with any DLP server that supports the ICAP protocol, including Symantec (Vontu), Websense Triton AP-DATA, and Code Green, to enhance their data security.

In addition, by using the Kiteworks platform’s central policy management system, enterprises can be assured that policies and rules are uniformly enforced across all content systems. Files are consistently and efficiently screened with the same criteria, enhancing an enterprise’s efforts to protect all of its content from the risk of data loss.

Beyond DLP integration, organizations have an extensive list of security capabilities to tap into with Kiteworks. Antivirus scanning on file uploads and downloads, secure file sharing and collaboration, remote wipe, file/folder expiration, content encryption and encryption key ownership are just some of the content security capabilities available. In addition, the ability to access, edit, share and collaborate on content using any device, from any location, dramatically increases workflow efficiency.

To learn more about the Kiteworks platform and our DLP integration capabilities, regardless of where your content is stored or how it is accessed, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.

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