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Understanding and selecting a data loss prevention solution for your business

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Data Loss Prevention solutions are security tools that help organisations to ensure that sensitive or critical business information does not get outside the corporate network or to a user without access. Image: Reuters

By Filip Cotfas

Data breaches and data loss have been the worst nightmares of every organisation. The work-from-home and hybrid working model during the pandemic does ensure business continuity, but what complicates the matter is the need to ensure the security of data in any given scenario. Businesses need to act proactively and ensure the security of client data or company with utmost importance.

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The shift to WFH has left many doors open for malicious outsiders, who have attempted to exploit changes related to working habits and anxiety caused by the pandemic. However, apart from the outsider attacks, COVID-19 has led to increased risks for internal data security threats too. Examples include social engineering attacks, data sharing outside the company, and the use of unauthorised devices.

Irrespective of the size of the organisation – big to small, protecting sensitive data is crucial. With everything going digital, each and every single day, the sheer volume of the data an organisation processes has been growing steadily. The resources of the IT team and CISO’s, are getting exhausted with limited bandwidth. That is why it is essential to come up with a balanced and comprehensive data loss prevention (DLP) plan that answers the need tailored to your organisation.

Let’s understand DLP and how to select a DLP solution based on required functionality and its real-life ability to prevent data leaks or breaches.

Data Loss Prevention solutions are security tools that help organisations to ensure that sensitive or critical business information does not get outside the corporate network or to a user without access. With DLP software, companies can defend against data theft, loss, and exfiltration as well as make a difference in the process of data protection. DLP solutions can safeguard both data that is in motion on the network, and the data that is at rest in storage areas or on desktops, laptops, etc.

A DLP tool can help companies ensure compliance with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, The Protection Bill, etc., and avoid highly-cost fines. Businesses also get protection against both malicious and inadvertent insider attacks and can safeguard customer data and intellectual property.

There are several types of DLP solutions based on where they are deployed. They can be at the endpoint or network level or in the cloud. When considering DLP solutions, businesses often turn to network DLP solutions as seemingly well-rounded and easy-to-implement tools. However, while they are efficient in protecting sensitive data in motion their reach is limited: they can only protect data when computers are connected to the company network and cannot prevent data transfer onto portable devices. This is where Endpoint DLP comes into play.

Endpoint DLP enables company-wide implementation which implies: the installation on every endpoint of a client or agent that will then have to be maintained and regularly updated. It’s imagined to be time-consuming and difficult, but the reality can be quite different, depending on the chosen product.

When it comes to data protection, cloud services can become problematic as, once sensitive data makes its way into the cloud, organisations lose part of their control over it as the cloud is an external environment managed by a third-party service provider.

Storing sensitive data in the cloud increases the risk of data leaks and uncontrolled distribution. This means competitors or unauthorised users can more easily gain access to sensitive and confidential company data. By storing sensitive data locally, on company networks, organisations can easily keep track of its movements, control how it is shared, and ensure that it stays in the country where it is located. This can be done through DLP solutions that identify, monitor, and control sensitive data, whether it is Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Intellectual Property (IP), or other categories of data a company considers sensitive in their particular area of business.

(The author is Channel Manager, Cososys. Views expressed are personal.)

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