Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for corporate data protection: tools and recommendations for an effective DLP strategy
August 3 , 2022
August 3 , 2022
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) refers to processes, techniques and tools companies can use to prevent the loss and breach of sensitive or confidential data. In the US alone, there were over 2.4 million data security breach alerts in the first six months of 2022. Today security is more important than ever, data protection regulations are becoming stricter all the time, and we hear about data breaches almost every day, so it’s essential companies take steps with this in mind. In terms of loss of data confidentiality, adopting Data Loss Prevention systems significantly limits the effects of an external attack, and prevents users taking sensitive information outside the company network, something that could happen also unintentionally.
Data Loss, Data Breach and Data leak: let’s take a closer look
Data: invaluable company assets. Data are collected, analysed and used every day to develop efficient and forward-looking business plans. So it’s easy to imagine the extent of the damage and not just in legal terms, that can result from the loss of such important information.
Three terms are often used generically in association with data breaches in the context of cybersecurity: data loss, data leak and data breach. The truth of the matter is though that these three terms refer to three specific cases, all of which are potentially damaging for companies. There are slightly different nuances that characterize and distinguish the three. In detail:
- a Data Loss is an actual loss of data by the company. This can be caused by accident (unexpected problems with company software and devices when there aren’t adequate backups) or in the event of an external attack that temporarily or permanently restricts company access to data;
- a Data Leak is the unintentional exposure of sensitive information. This can happen on the web or in corporate devices such as laptops or hard drives, and it’s often associated with employee errors and carelessness (a file containing sensitive information accidentally sent in an e-mail for example, or saved on a misplaced pen drive);
- a Data Breach is unauthorized access to sensitive data by cyber criminals who exploit the information for illegitimate purposes.
DLP systems prevent all three scenarios and let companies guarantee high standards of protection, minimizing many IT risks.
What are the most effective Data Loss Prevention tools and processes, and what type of data can they monitor and protect?
There are various DLP tools to choose from, and they can be set up to suit company rules and data protection requirements. Not all data, in fact, are equally important, so the same level of confidentiality isn’t always required. Information on the patents of new products for example, should have a much higher level of protection than a customer’s e-mail address or telephone number, which someone could also find online. Furthermore, the data to be protected could be data sent through telecommunications networks (so called data “in transit”), or data saved on drives or stored in on-line platforms (so called data “at rest”). Different tools may be required to effectively protect different types of data.
DLP: the classification phase
Data Loss Prevention systems apply an initial data classification phase that involves 4 main steps:
- data type identification: defining the type of information in the file to be classified;
- threat identification: defining potential threats that could result in the loss of information in the file to be classified;
- impact assessment: considering the possible impact for the company if the information in the file is lost or disclosed;
- information classification: on the basis of the three previous steps, defining the different degrees of confidentiality (public, internal-only, strictly confidential, etc.) and associating the correct level of confidentiality with the file in question.
DLP: areas of application
DLP solutions can be applied to two main areas of protection:
- Data in transit protection: focuses on protecting data in transit, both in the corporate network and online. Data must be protected also in this phase, and not just when stored (on devices or in corporate clouds);
- Data at rest protection: focuses on protecting data saved on devices or in shared storage systems (such as Dropbox for example).
The best way to implement effective Data Loss Prevention is to choose tools that can cover both areas of application, ones that can adapt to procedures currently used by the company.
Boolebox and DLP: our tools to prevent data loss and data breaches
Boolebox provides companies with various DLP tools.
We’ve developed solutions to protect both data “in transit” and data “at rest”, also guaranteeing the security of data “in use”, in other words data currently being edited by users. In fact the file still has the applied encryption when it’s open on the desktop or in a browser, preventing potentially critical operations such as downloading, screen printing, printing or making unauthorized copies.
- Secure file Manager, secure file sharing and file management software that applies advanced encryption mechanisms to guarantee confidentiality;
- Secure E-mail, the web app that lets you send and receive encrypted e-mails and attachments that can only be read by the designated recipients;
- Secure Transfer, for the secure transfer of files, so they are only accessible for the designated recipients;
- Data encryption solutions for the Windows operating system, different types of remote storage platforms and e-mail clients: File Encryptor for Windows, File Encryptor for OneDrive and SharePoint, File Encryptor for Google Drive and Dropbox, File Encryptor for Outlook and Gmail. All Boolebox File Encryptor apps offer an extremely useful function for companies: protection systems are applied to each single file, also automatically, with rules based on keywords that appear in the file name, words contained within the encrypted file, or based on the file type.
Data Loss Prevention is more than just data classification and tools
Classifying the data to protect, and choosing the best tools to use, are certainly of primary importance when setting up an effective DLP system. However, it’s also essential to train employees, to make sure all the best practices established are adopted in the right way, with a subsequent monitoring phase to adapt the procedures. The initial phase of a DLP plan in fact focuses mainly on identifying critical areas where action is required first. Subsequently it’s advisable to adjust the strategy for any problems and critical points encountered, and above all to stay up-to-date with the evolution of the company, to cater for any future protection requirements. Data Loss Prevention is an ongoing process that should never be neglected or abandoned.
Try one of Boolebox’s DLP tools in a free trial. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We remain at your disposal for any clarifications or advice you might need to find the best solutions to protect your company’s data.