Data loss is a ubiquitous problem across enterprises. Deploying data loss prevention solutions targeted to specific environments and their potential risks can help ensure that sensitive data is protected wherever it exists, whether it’s on the move or stored for future use.
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 DLP remains the same — securing sensitive data — the tools and solutions required to execute it will differ to correspond with their respective environments.
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.
Endpoint DLP vs. network DLP
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. They 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. Lastly, endpoints can 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 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. Not only do they protect, but network DLP solutions also monitor and report on this data as it moves throughout the network, providing visibility into exactly which data is being used and by whom.
Are both necessary?
Absolutely. It’s not one or the other; it’s better together. Because endpoint DLP solutions can protect and provide data visibility for devices outside of an organization’s network, they’re ideal for keeping enterprise data safe in remote work environments, which are becoming increasingly more common. Even if other remote work safeguards like VPNs falter, sensitive data is protected at the source with an endpoint DLP solution. Endpoint devices provide direct access to their organizations’ networks and cloud services (read: locations rife with sensitive data), so they must be fortified against cybersecurity threats.
While many companies are embracing remote work, they’re likely doing so using a hybrid model where employees can (or must) be in the office a couple of times per week. Thus, a network DLP solution is just as important as ever. And, with the transfer of data back and forth from endpoint devices to in-network devices, a network DLP plan adds an extra layer of security should an endpoint device be compromised.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, endpoint and network DLP solutions can help organizations remain compliant with even the strictest of data privacy laws that govern their sensitive data. The protections these solutions provide often overlap with compliance requirements — monitoring sensitive data, protecting it throughout the stages of its lifecycle, controlling who can access it — or at least make fulfilling them that much easier. Because data loss prevention requires accurately discovering sensitive data so it can be properly classified and remediated if duplicates or inaccuracies exist, data subject access requests can be honored promptly and sensitive data that’s no longer needed for its original purpose can be safely deleted.
Prevent sensitive data loss with Spirion
Before organizations can implement DLP solutions, they first must execute sensitive data discovery and classification. This finds structured and unstructured sensitive data everywhere it exists so you gain a complete understanding of the potential risks to your data and the digital environments within your organization where your data resides. Plus, discovery and classification are automated so your endpoint and network DLP monitoring processes never miss a beat.
Contact Spirion today to learn more about how our tools can optimize your approach to data loss prevention.