Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in 2021

Data loss (along with data leakage) poses a threat to all businesses, big and small. Here's a look at the best strategies for mitigating this risk in 2021.

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to software for controlling and protecting a corporate network’s sensitive and critical information. DLP products exist to help network administrators control data flows. They can grant and restrict user permissions, protect against user input errors, and prevent malicious sharing of data by unauthorized users. In this post, we’ll examine data loss prevention, and look at what DLP solutions can do for your business in 2021.
In this post, we’ll examine data loss prevention, and look at what DLP solutions can do for your business in 2021.

Data loss prevention (DLP) in 2021: Protecting sensitive business information

2020 upended businesses and workers around the world, with a global pandemic forcing many to shift to mostly or completely remote operations. Now, in 2021, not much has changed. The work-from-home revolution is ongoing and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. 

Experts even estimate that by year’s end between 25-30% of the workforce will be working from home at least multiple days of the week. This presents additional challenges for large corporations and businesses, with droves of their workforce making a sudden shift to working outside of the office. 

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For network administrators, this means more emphasis than ever on data loss prevention (DLP). In a time of change, not only is it important to remain in line with existing company DLP policies, it’s also crucial to still adhere to the strict data protection laws governing the corporate sphere. In this analysis, we’ll describe the threats businesses face, and examine data loss prevention solutions in 2021. 

What is data loss prevention (DLP)?

The term itself, data loss prevention (DLP), refers to detection and prevention of both data loss and data leakage. DLP entails detecting and preventing data breaches, exfiltration, or the unauthorized destruction of sensitive data.

Data loss can occur due to numerous causes. Sometimes, there are insider threats, like malicious actors in an organization. Other times, there are external threats (malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, etc). Then there are unintentional or haphazard transfers of data. If any of these happen, it places the organization at risk. 

Thus, DLP solutions aim to prevent any and all illicit transfers of data outside the organization and its network. DLP products help network administrators control data flows by granting or restricting user permissions, preventing user input errors, and defending against malicious transfers or destruction of data by unauthorized users.

How do organizations typically use DLP?

For data loss prevention in 2021, organizations typically use DLP solutions for the following.

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Protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in compliance with regulations

Safeguarding intellectual property of the organization

Expanding data visibility in large organizations

Ensuring security for the mobile workforce when working on their own devices

Strengthening security of data on remote cloud systems

What are the main causes for data loss and leakage?

The most common reasons why data loss or leakage occurs haven’t changed much over the years. They are:

1. Insider threats — These might be a malicious insider, an attacker who has jeopardized a high-privilege user account, or anybody attempting to misuse data or transfer it outside of the organization’s network.

2. Extrusion — This is when an external attack compromises a network with the intent of stealing sensitive data. The majority of cyberattacks are of this nature. They aim to bypass network security using phishing attacks, malware and code injection.

3. Accidental or haphazard data exposure — Data leaks of this type happen when employees unintentionally share or expose sensitive data. This might be something as simple as sending an email to the wrong recipient. Other examples might be losing sensitive information in public, providing open access to data online, or not setting the appropriate user restrictions across the network.

How to prevent data leakage

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There are many tools available today to help businesses protect against data leaks and loss. Standard DLP solutions in 2021 often include software for an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), antivirus software, and firewall network security

For larger companies and enterprises, more advanced tools are often standard for safeguarding data. Often they look to advanced solutions dedicated specifically to DLP and which adhere to their organizational policies and local regulations. 

What businesses look for in a data loss prevention solution

When determining the best solution for data loss prevention, the following components are the most vital.

Security of moving data — By installing technology on the edge of a network, it’s possible to analyze incoming and outgoing traffic. In this way, you can detect if any sensitive data is moving in violation of internal policies.

Secure end-points — With secure end-points, DLP systems can control and even block in real-time internal data transfers. These might be between users, user groups, and with external parties outside of the network.

Securing data in retention — Another area DLP addresses is how to protect an organization’s data archives. This primarily involves control over user access rights and encryption of retained data.

Security of actionable data — Several DLP systems also monitor data in use for any data interactions that might represent unauthorized user activities, intentional or not.

Identification of data elements — Organizations also need to define which data is sensitive and needs protection versus which does not. This can be accomplished manually by applying rules and metadata, or via machine learning for automated identification.

Detection and prevention of data leaks — DLP solutions among other security systems like IDS, IPS, and SIEM help to analyze data transfers and flag any that appear anomalous or suspicious. They are also useful for reporting to administrators where to investigate further for possible data leaks.

Data loss prevention and Preava in 2021

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At Preava, we look to support companies with DLP solutions for Gmail for Business. Encryption, firewalls, and antivirus software are essential, but they do not address one of the most unmitigated data loss threats — email. 

Through predictive behavior modeling and customizable rules, Preava Prevent is a one-of-a-kind solution. Our software helps employees identify and correct mistakes before sending that email, and ensures emails always go to the intended recipient. To learn more about data loss prevention in 2021, or to discover our DLP product for yourself, contact us at Preava today.

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