How to Implement Data Loss Prevention Systems

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Data breaches can cost a business millions of dollars in fines, legal action, reputational damage, and lost customer trust. A well-implemented DLP policy can prevent these costly consequences and protect critical business data. DLP solutions monitor, detect, and block sensitive information in motion or at rest from being transferred from unauthorized user endpoints. This is done by identifying, classifying, and protecting data through DLP software products and tools.


Data loss prevention systems identify sensitive information within an IT environment, monitor data flow in and out of the organization, and block data leaving based on security policies. The purpose is to ensure employees or end-users cannot intentionally or inadvertently compromise corporate data. DLP is especially important when data is moved from network environments to user devices and in the cloud or outside the organization, where cyber attackers may have more opportunities to attack. It’s essential to understand that data loss can be caused by various factors, from insider threats to malware and ransomware attacks. However, the most common source of data loss is negligent and accidental exposure. This can occur when employees share sensitive data with users outside the company by email or file-sharing services, don’t encrypt files before sending them, or lose or misplace portable electronic devices like laptops and USB flash drives. To prevent data loss, it’s essential to establish clear and consistent policies and practices, provide regular training to staff, double-check mechanisms for deleting sensitive information, and invest in quality hardware with a strong track record of reliability. Backups are also essential; the general rule is to have at least three copies of any critical data. Ideally, these copies should be stored in different locations, both in the cloud and on physical devices.


Data loss prevention systems are designed to prevent sensitive information from leaving an organization’s network. These include preventing users from forwarding business emails outside the corporate domain or uploading corporate files to cloud storage services. DLP software identifies and categorizes business-critical or regulated information. It enables IT teams to create rules that block or alert users if they attempt to send or store such data. For DLP to work, companies need to know what they have, where it resides, and who has access to it. This can be accomplished through periodic data audits and inventory. By analyzing this data, companies can better understand which types of information would cause the most damage in the event they were stolen. Prompting employees to halt risky activity is another vital part of a data loss prevention strategy. Advanced DLP tools allow for customized user prompts based on the types of actions that represent the highest level of risk (as opposed to simply blocking those actions). This technique can reduce risks by as much as 82%. Regular training is also critical to preventing data loss. By instilling a security culture within the workplace, organizations can ensure that all employees know how to protect critical information. They should also provide ongoing education sessions on common mistakes that lead to data loss and establish clear policies for handling sensitive information.


Data is the fuel that drives modern business, but it’s also the primary target of attacks. Your organization must take steps to prevent data loss to maintain productivity and protect privacy concerns. The best way to do that is with a full-spectrum DLP process that combines detection, prevention, and encryption. The first step is to identify your most critical data. This can be anything from customer contact information to intellectual property to trade secrets. This data should be prioritized for protection because it could have the most impact if lost or compromised. Once you have a list, set up your DLP to detect and prevent the movement of this data. DLP solutions can scan data in transit over the network or on managed endpoints and at rest on on-premises servers and cloud applications. They can then execute responses based on policies that your organization establishes. For example, if someone tries to move sensitive data out of the organization by uploading it to a cloud storage system, DLP can alert them and suggest they encrypt the file before sending it. Some DLP solutions can also classify data based on regulatory compliance, such as HIPAA, for healthcare organizations. This allows you to ensure access controls meet regulatory standards and document that for your compliance audits.


Data loss prevention systems are effective if all employees are educated about protecting sensitive information. Employees who are well-trained in cybersecurity best practices and know what actions can result in a security breach will be less likely to make mistakes that lead to the accidental release of sensitive data. The education process can also include educating employees on the principles of data hygiene, such as keeping sensitive information on sanctioned devices and applications only. When an employee does accidentally access sensitive data, it is essential that the business can immediately revoke access. The DLP system must have features supporting the least privilege principle. This is a familiar concept in cybersecurity and involves only giving data to those who need it and not more. The DLP tools should be able to scan for and identify the sensitive data on the network and determine the level of access granted to each file. Ideally, the DLP tools will also include options for keeping track of the files that need additional protection. These may be files on the local network server, cloud storage, or an employee’s device. The DLP system should be able to keep track of where these files are and alert administrators when someone attempts to access them without authorization.