Organisations handle more data than ever. Consider all the types of data your organisation needs to protect: financially sensitive data, intellectual property, employee information, customer data, transaction data, network traffic - the list can seem endless.
Where is this data stored? As businesses expand and decentralise, data appears to get increasingly disparate. From endpoints to the cloud, from the network to databases, it can be difficult to keep track of end-to-end data flows — now factor in your organisation's supply chain; the contractors, subcontractors, vendors and auditors. All while the cyber-attacks aimed at stealing company data are getting increasingly sophisticated. And finally, consider current and emerging regulatory and compliance frameworks that mandate the protection of personally identifiable information (PII).
Put simply, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a security strategy to minimise the loss of data that your organisation needs to protect through processes, policies and technology. It is a strategy that needs ongoing effort in synergy with other security measures, such as continuous monitoring, with regulations such as PCI-DSS, SOX, HIPAA, GDPR, etc. It requires buy-in at the executive level.
DLP must account for where the data lives, how it might be lost, who might lose or steal it, and what data needs protecting (and how much). The application of this is very diverse: ranging from a lost laptop to a company document inadvertently shared with unauthorised parties, all the way to insider threat.
DLP is no longer optional. It is not a "nice-to-have" function. In 2021, IBM reported a 17-year high in the total cost of a data breach, with an average of USD 4.24 million. Any sound DLP strategy must aim to protect data at rest, in transit and in use.
However, it can be daunting and expensive. Sifting between alerts of documents legitimately shared with outsiders and malicious data exfiltration also becomes tedious. Smarter DLP solutions are necessary.
Whilst buying a reputable DLP product can seem expedient, it can't help deliver the value needed for your organisation unless the fundamentals already exist. To evaluate your requirements, consider the following questions:
- What data is the most sensitive? What kind of data breach would lead to financial or reputational damage for your organisation? Where does this data primarily live, on the networks, on the endpoints, or in the cloud?
- Are you currently compliant with data protection regulations that apply, and are you aware of emerging regulations?
- What is the current security posture of your organisation? Do you already have a security strategy, and what capabilities are already engaged in DLP?
- Are internal policies around data processing, handling and storage up to date? Are staff trained in data sensitivity and awareness?
- Is the DLP product compatible with your organisation’s architecture? What additional resources would you need to engage in implementing the product successfully?
- Does the product effectively mitigate your top data protection priorities and most severe cyber risks?
- How will you measure the efficacy of onboarding a DLP product?