Protecting Your Critical Information with Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Have you ever experienced the rising panic that accompanies sending an email that you didn’t mean to? 

Sometimes it’s a small face-palm moment of realising that the attachment you meant to add didn’t get attached. An embarrassing mistake, but one that’s easily rectified with a second mail apologising and attaching the file. Sometimes it’s hitting send on an email or message that wasn’t complete, or a slip of the hand resulting in it being sent early. Sometimes it’s a case of similar names becoming confused. Or an email for one Daniel being sent to another in error.

These mistakes happen to everyone! And some of them are easy to correct, to laugh off and forget about. But some errors are bigger than others, and when sensitive files are involved, your company’s data and its reputation can be placed at risk.

This is where Data Loss Prevention, or DLP, tools become an essential aspect of maintaining any business’ data security, protecting your company from threats that are both accidental and intentional.

What Is Data Loss Prevention? 

Data Loss Prevention tools protect your business’ sensitive information from a wide range of threats. While the start of this article was all about human error, and how easily files can be sent to the wrong people, this is only one of the aspects that DLP secures your business from. By using DLP, you are also protecting your data from malicious attacks, whether internal or external. 

But what exactly is Data Loss Prevention? It’s a set of rules and processes for analysing your data and understanding how it is being accessed, by who and alerting you to access attempts from unauthorised parties. By keeping close track of who is allowed access to critical and sensitive information, you can ensure that when a file is sent out in error, for example, the information within it becomes encrypted, preventing the data from being accessed.

This also protects your business’s sensitive information against cyberattacks. With data leaks becoming an increasingly realistic threat for almost every company in the world, keeping your intellectual property, your business strategies, and your client’s personal information safe and secure has never been more important. Data Loss Prevention ensures that even if an unauthorised party gains access to your network, your business’ critical information will remain encrypted, secure, and unreadable. It will also make sure that the right people are informed about the breach, helping you to stop attacks in their tracks.

How Does Data Loss Protection Work? 

There are a number of ways that DLP tools and technologies keep your data safe and secure. A few of the most common methods include:

  • Checking Data Rules 

You can set up your Data Loss Protection tool to check outgoing emails and information for specific rules. For example, personal information like ID numbers and financial details like bank account or credit card numbers tend to follow very specific patterns. By checking for these patterns in outgoing files and communication, you can be alerted to unusual activity and avoid having personal information leaked.

  • Assigning Data Categories 

Categorising the data that you store is not only a great way of keeping your network and storage organised. It’s also an essential part of Data Loss Prevention. By categorising your information, assigning labels to easily identity personal information, financial details, critical company documents, etc. you can also easily control who has access to information. From there, Data Loss Prevention system can ensure that no one outside of authorised team members can access or transfer specific file types.

  • Partial or Exact File Matching

If an attacker wanted to transfer data from your network to their own, they wouldn’t necessarily transfer the file itself. After all, that might set off alarms (or send out alerts) telling people about their presence. The longer an attacker can go undetected, the more damage they can cause. So, instead of moving the file directly, they may make a copy of the information, and move that across instead. And this is partial or exact file matching comes in. DLP tools check files and information that is leaving your network to ensure that no data has been copied illicitlin an attempt to avoid detection.

How Compliant Is Your Business?

Make sure that your data is under digital lock and key.

What Types of DLP Can Businesses Use?  

As you may have noticed from all of the information above, Data Loss Prevention is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution. There are a variety of DLP types that can be customised to suit your business needs. Let’s take a deeper look at four common DLP types that your company should consider:

1. Email DLP

By monitoring the mails sent to and from your business addresses, you can reduce the risk of accidental and intentional data leaks via email. This will also help you to mitigate the threat information is sent incorrectly, either by retracting the mail that was sent or by safeguarding any attachments that shouldn’t reach unwanted eyes.

2. Endpoint DLP

Emails are hardly the only way that data is transferred, and particularly when you have teams working on their own devices from home offices around the world, it’s important to ensure that computers, laptops, and servers are protected as well. Endpoint Data Loss Prevention monitors files that are stored on particular devices, ensuring that information stored on a device itself is protected.

3. Cloud DLP

With many companies embracing remote working, the practice of storing data in the cloud, rather than on specific devices or servers, is becoming more and more popular. This makes Cloud DLP the most viable solution for protecting stored information. It also addresses one of the biggest concerns that businesses have when making the move to the cloud, even when using the best migration tools available – that their data will be lost or infiltrated during the transition. Cloud DLP ensures that your business information is securely encrypted both in transit and while at rest, reducing the risk of interception by unauthorised parties.

4. Network DLP

Your network is what enables your employees to work smoothly, whether they’re interacting online, accessing information, or communicating externally. Securing your data across your network essentially takes all the Data Loss Prevention types above into consideration, monitoring devices connected to the network, emails that are sent over it, and data that are stored both locally and on cloud storage facilities, and protecting to ensure that no information is transferred within (or outside of) your network without the correct authorisation.

Data Loss Prevention as Part of Your Managed IT Services

As you can tell, Data Loss Prevention is an essential aspect of managing any business’ information. It can be critical for mitigating cyber threats like ransomware attacks and ensuring data leakage prevention. But finding the right tools and Data Loss Prevention technology is one matter, and putting them in place in the right way for your business is another matter entirely.

This is where the right IT support partner can be an invaluable asset to your company. And while many Data Loss Prevention vendors are entirely technology-focused, Solid Systems is all about the human side of your business. We work with companies to understand their needs and help them reach their goals. Keeping your business and your data secure against cyberthreats is a natural part of what we do, and forms the foundation behind our managed IT services offering.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we have vast experience in Office 365 Data Loss Protection. Our teams are ready to put our experience, Microsoft 365 expertise, technology know-how, and passion for people to the best for your business.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about how Solid Systems can help you protect your critical information by putting Data Loss Prevention controls in place, and even see you remaining POPIA compliant.

Michael Claxton

Michael Claxton

Co-Founder and CEO of Solid Systems | I am a father of two, and a mentor of many. My calm focus makes me a natural leader, both in and out the office, and I have a unique skill in nurturing leadership qualities in others as well. But most of all, I understand the true value of time and the ways that technology can optimise efficiency within a business and see humans making the most of the time available to them, both in terms of productivity, and in terms of personal growth. 

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