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What’s the difference between endpoint DLP and network DLP?

BY RYAN TULLY
January 22, 2024

Data loss is a widespread problem across enterprises. To address this problem, deploying data loss prevention solutions that are tailored to specific environments and their potential risks can be helpful. These solutions can ensure that sensitive data is protected no matter where it exists, whether it’s being transferred or stored for future use. Here’s what you need to know about data loss prevention,  protecting endpoints, and protecting your network.

What is DLP?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a process for protecting enterprise data from loss or malicious compromise. DLP also helps organizations remain compliant with the privacy regulations their data is subject to and provides comprehensive data visibility. Because of this, it is an integral component to an overarching data security program.

DLP can be applied to all areas of enterprise digital environments: endpoint, network and cloud systems. Within these environments, data exists in different stages, so while the primary goal of securing sensitive data remains the same, the tools and solutions required to execute it will differ to correspond with their respective environments.

What is Data Loss Prevention Software?

Data loss prevention software is a security solution designed to identify and prevent unauthorized access of sensitive information either by outside cybercriminals or through data exfiltration. When shopping for data loss prevention software, it’s important to remember that DLP is not a single tool for protecting your organization, but a comprehensive set of tools designed to help you build an effective security plan.

For a DLP software solution to be effective, it must also exist within the stringent standards of a Zero Trust framework. This approach allows data to be secured at its source, and users must be verified every time they attempt to access protected information. Developing a Zero Trust environment is also one of the key benefits of a data-centric approach to security.

DLP and Data Lifecycle Stages

Data loss prevention targets data at three stages: in use, in motion and at rest.

  • Data in use refers to any data being accessed, processed or modified by an authorized user or application. Copying a piece of data to a clipboard, for example, is data in use. As permissions for the use of data increase, along with the devices this data is used on, so do the risks to its security.
  • Data in motion refers to data that’s being actively transmitted from one location to another within a network or networks. Emailing a piece of data is an example of data in motion. Sensitive data becomes vulnerable to security risks when the receiving location isn’t secure.
  • Data at rest refers to data being stored in databases, cloud repositories, servers or endpoint devices like laptops. Saving a piece of data that a colleague just emailed is an example of data at rest. When the storage location lacks proper security measures, such as encryption, the security of the data at rest is at risk.

What is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security refers to the process of securing devices that can access your organization’s network. Endpoints include all of the devices with access to your network, such as laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. They can also include servers, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and any remote workers’ devices capable of connecting to an internal network.

The goal of endpoint security is to prevent unauthorized access to your network, protect against malware and ensure that data remains secure. This means that endpoint data protection is crucial for any business, regardless of its size or purpose.

Endpoint DLP vs. Network DLP

Endpoint DLP and network DLP are two different approaches to preventing data loss in an organization. While endpoint DLP focuses on protecting data on individual devices, network DLP prevents data loss as it moves through the network.

Endpoint Data Loss Prevention

Endpoint data loss prevention tools protect data in use, in motion and at rest by installing agents on any endpoint devices capable of accessing and storing an enterprise’s sensitive data. These agents enforce predefined policies for data used by authorized users and applications in day-to-day business operations and block any activity that could violate those policies.

These agents can also use encryption to secure any data being transmitted to portable devices so only those for whom the data is intended for can access it. Endpoint DLP solutions also allow endpoints to be scanned for any sensitive data being stored on them and swiftly remediated if the data is found to be handled improperly.

Network Data Loss Prevention

Network data loss prevention tools secure any communications taking place across a network via email, web application or other file transfer processes with automatic encryption to protect sensitive data in motion. These tools protect, monitor and report on this data as it moves throughout the network. This provides increased visibility into exactly what data is being used, when it is being used and who is using it.

Why Both Endpoint DLP and Network DLP Are Necessary

Endpoint and network DLP solutions are both necessary to ensure a comprehensive data loss prevention strategy. With endpoint DLP, sensitive data is protected at the source even if other safeguards like VPNs or firewalls fail. At the same time, network DLP adds an extra layer of security for data being transmitted back and forth from endpoint devices to the network in the event a single endpoint device is compromised.

In addition to security considerations, endpoint and network DLP solutions can help organizations remain compliant with even the strictest of data privacy laws that govern their sensitive data. These solutions often offer overlapping protections with compliance requirements, such as monitoring sensitive data, protecting it throughout its lifecycle stages, and controlling access to it. Alternatively, they can simplify the fulfillment of compliance requirements. Effective data loss prevention involves discovering sensitive data accurately and classifying it properly to remediate any duplicates or inaccuracies. This allows for prompt honoring of data subject access requests and safe deletion of sensitive data that is no longer required for its original purpose.

Protect Sensitive Data With Spirion DLP Solutions

To protect your company’s sensitive data against threats, comply with data regulations, and minimize risk to your finances and reputation, you need Spirion’s Sensitive Data Platform (SDP). Our SDP offers 98% accurate data discovery, automated workflow control, and advanced analytics to protect your threat surface with industry-leading expertise.

Contact us today to learn more about our full suite of privacy and security solutions. You can also watch a demo now to see our products in action.