Blog
May 20, 2024

How To Create a Solid Data Loss Prevention Strategy

Discover essential insights on Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategies and leverage Metomic’s solutions to safeguard your organisation's data.

Download
Download

Key Points:

Data breaches have become a depressingly common, and increasingly prevalent part of the digital and business landscape. In fact, from 2022 to 2023, the US alone saw a 20% increase in data breaches.

As your organisation navigates this increasingly treacherous digital landscape and grapples with constantly evolving cyber threats, it’s more important than ever to protect sensitive data and information.

Failure to do so can seriously harm your reputation - British Airways suffered a data breach in 2018, and dropped from 31st to 55th in reputational score - as well as hurting your organisation financially, as we’ll see later.

This article explores what you and your security team need to do when creating a comprehensive and effective data loss prevention strategy, educating IT and security teams on safeguarding valuable data assets and mitigating against the myriad security threats worldwide.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to a set of technologies and practices designed to prevent sensitive data from being lost, stolen, or leaked (whether inadvertently or maliciously) outside an organisation’s boundaries.

These solutions work by identifying, monitoring, and protecting sensitive data from unauthorised access, disclosure, or alteration.

While keeping any kind of data safe is important, it’s especially important, for example, if you’re a healthcare or financial services organisation, or any organisation that keeps what’s known as Personally Identifying Information (PII) on your customers.

This is information that can be used to identify a person - such as medical records, financial information, or address - and could be used to cause harm to that person.

Alarmingly, around 80% of all data breaches involve PII, highlighting the critical importance of DLP solutions. By understanding the types of data commonly targeted in breaches, organisations can tailor their DLP strategies effectively.

Why DLP is essential for organisations

Implementing a robust DLP strategy is essential for organisations of all sizes. Here are compelling reasons why prioritising DLP is crucial:

  • Financial implications: The financial repercussions of a data breach can be staggering. Globally, the average cost per data breach amounted to $4.45 million. For many organisations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such financial losses can be devastating and may even lead to bankruptcy.
  • Reputational damage: As we mentioned earlier, data breaches not only result in financial losses but also inflict significant reputational damage. When customer data is compromised, organisations may lose the trust and confidence of their clients. Rebuilding a tarnished reputation can be a daunting task, and can take years.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: With the proliferation of data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe and HIPAA for healthcare in the United States, organisations are legally obligated to safeguard the personal information of their customers. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in severe penalties, fines, and legal consequences.
  • Protection of intellectual property: Beyond customer data, organisations also want to protect their intellectual property (IP). Whether it's trade secrets, product designs, or proprietary algorithms, the loss or theft of such sensitive data can have far-reaching consequences, including loss of competitive advantage and market share.
  • Prevention of data leakage: Data leakage, whether intentional or unintentional, poses a significant threat to organisations. Whether it's employees inadvertently sharing confidential information or malicious insiders seeking to profit from stolen data, DLP solutions are instrumental in preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Mitigation of insider threats: Insider threats, including negligent employees and disgruntled insiders, pose a formidable challenge to data security. DLP solutions can help organisations identify and mitigate insider threats by monitoring and controlling user behaviour, detecting suspicious activities, and enforcing security policies.
  • Protection against external threats: Protection against external threats is crucial for organisations, as they face risks from cybercriminals, hackers, and nation-state actors. Notably, recent statistics reveal that the manufacturing sector ranked as the top targeted industry, comprising 20% of all cyber extortion campaigns. In this landscape, DLP solutions play a critical role in detecting and thwarting malicious activities like phishing attempts, malware infections, and data exfiltration.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy means organisations can mitigate the risks associated with data breaches, protect their sensitive information, maintain their reputation, and defend their financial well-being.

Five fundamental pillars of an effective DLP strategy

A strong data loss prevention (DLP) strategy is built on fundamental pillars that are essential for it to be effective. Here are the key pillars that organisations must consider when implementing a DLP strategy:

1: Data discovery and classification

The first step in any DLP strategy is to identify and classify sensitive data across the organisation's IT infrastructure.

This means discovering where sensitive data resides, including on-premises servers, cloud platforms, and endpoint devices, and categorising it based on its sensitivity and regulatory requirements.

By understanding the types of data your organisation possesses and where it is located, you can better protect it from unauthorised access and disclosure.

2: Access control

Controlling access to sensitive data is crucial for preventing unauthorised users from viewing, modifying, or sharing it.

Access control measures should be implemented based on the principle of least privilege, so that users have only the permissions they need to perform their job functions.

This involves enforcing strong authentication mechanisms, implementing role-based access controls, and regularly reviewing and updating access rights to align with business needs.

3: Policy enforcement

Establishing clear policies and procedures for handling sensitive data is essential for ensuring compliance and mitigating risk. These policies should outline acceptable use guidelines, data handling procedures, and consequences for policy violations.

DLP solutions can help automate policy enforcement by monitoring data usage in real-time, detecting policy violations, and taking appropriate remedial actions, such as blocking or encrypting sensitive data.

4: Monitoring and analysis

Continuous monitoring of data access and usage is critical for identifying and mitigating potential security threats. DLP solutions should provide comprehensive visibility into how sensitive data is being accessed, shared, and used across the organisation.

By analysing this data, security teams can identify suspicious activities, detect insider threats, and respond to security incidents in a timely manner.

5: Incident response planning:

Despite best efforts to prevent data breaches, security incidents may still occur. Having a well-defined incident response plan in place is essential for minimising the impact of security breaches and restoring normal operations quickly.

This plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident, including containment, investigation, remediation, and communication with stakeholders. Regular testing and rehearsal of the incident response plan can help ensure its effectiveness when needed.

By adhering to these fundamental pillars, organisations can establish a robust DLP strategy that effectively protects sensitive data, mitigates security risks, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

Continuous improvement of DLP strategy

A comprehensive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and refinement. Here are some key steps to ensure continuous improvement of your DLP strategy:

  • Regular assessments: Conduct periodic evaluations to identify weaknesses and emerging threats within the organisation's data security framework.
  • Stay updated: Remain informed about the latest trends and technologies in data security to effectively mitigate new risks.
  • Employee training: Invest in ongoing training initiatives to reinforce best practices and educate employees about emerging threats in data protection.
  • Incident response planning: Regularly review and update incident response plans to ensure they remain effective in addressing potential data breaches or security incidents.
  • Technology updates: Stay current with advancements in DLP technologies to leverage the latest features and threat intelligence for enhanced data protection.
  • Collaboration: Foster open communication and collaboration between IT, security teams, and stakeholders to ensure alignment with organisational goals and objectives.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic’s data security platform offers your organisation solutions to enhance your DLP strategy, including:

  • Data discovery: Metomic’s PII data discovery software enables scanning of your digital ecosystem to identify and classify sensitive data across all platforms and endpoints.
  • Policy enforcement: You can enforce data handling policies to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information.
  • Real-time monitoring: Metomic's real-time monitoring capabilities can detect suspicious activities and potential data breaches, allowing for timely intervention and remediation.

With Metomic's comprehensive suite of data protection solutions, organisations can strengthen their DLP strategy and safeguard their sensitive information against evolving threats.

Conclusion

Prioritising data loss prevention (DLP) strategies is crucial for organisations in a digital landscape where threats are constantly growing and evolving.

By understanding the fundamentals of DLP, recognising its importance, and implementing effective strategies, businesses can mitigate risks and protect valuable information assets.

With innovative solutions like Metomic's advanced data protection tool, organisations can strengthen their data security posture and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy and leveraging cutting-edge solutions is essential to safeguard data, protect reputation, and mitigate risks associated with data breaches in the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

Interested in strengthening your data loss prevention strategy?

Book your personalised demo to see how Metomic’s platform can help with data discovery, policy enforcement and data monitoring.

Key Points:

Data breaches have become a depressingly common, and increasingly prevalent part of the digital and business landscape. In fact, from 2022 to 2023, the US alone saw a 20% increase in data breaches.

As your organisation navigates this increasingly treacherous digital landscape and grapples with constantly evolving cyber threats, it’s more important than ever to protect sensitive data and information.

Failure to do so can seriously harm your reputation - British Airways suffered a data breach in 2018, and dropped from 31st to 55th in reputational score - as well as hurting your organisation financially, as we’ll see later.

This article explores what you and your security team need to do when creating a comprehensive and effective data loss prevention strategy, educating IT and security teams on safeguarding valuable data assets and mitigating against the myriad security threats worldwide.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to a set of technologies and practices designed to prevent sensitive data from being lost, stolen, or leaked (whether inadvertently or maliciously) outside an organisation’s boundaries.

These solutions work by identifying, monitoring, and protecting sensitive data from unauthorised access, disclosure, or alteration.

While keeping any kind of data safe is important, it’s especially important, for example, if you’re a healthcare or financial services organisation, or any organisation that keeps what’s known as Personally Identifying Information (PII) on your customers.

This is information that can be used to identify a person - such as medical records, financial information, or address - and could be used to cause harm to that person.

Alarmingly, around 80% of all data breaches involve PII, highlighting the critical importance of DLP solutions. By understanding the types of data commonly targeted in breaches, organisations can tailor their DLP strategies effectively.

Why DLP is essential for organisations

Implementing a robust DLP strategy is essential for organisations of all sizes. Here are compelling reasons why prioritising DLP is crucial:

  • Financial implications: The financial repercussions of a data breach can be staggering. Globally, the average cost per data breach amounted to $4.45 million. For many organisations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such financial losses can be devastating and may even lead to bankruptcy.
  • Reputational damage: As we mentioned earlier, data breaches not only result in financial losses but also inflict significant reputational damage. When customer data is compromised, organisations may lose the trust and confidence of their clients. Rebuilding a tarnished reputation can be a daunting task, and can take years.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: With the proliferation of data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe and HIPAA for healthcare in the United States, organisations are legally obligated to safeguard the personal information of their customers. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in severe penalties, fines, and legal consequences.
  • Protection of intellectual property: Beyond customer data, organisations also want to protect their intellectual property (IP). Whether it's trade secrets, product designs, or proprietary algorithms, the loss or theft of such sensitive data can have far-reaching consequences, including loss of competitive advantage and market share.
  • Prevention of data leakage: Data leakage, whether intentional or unintentional, poses a significant threat to organisations. Whether it's employees inadvertently sharing confidential information or malicious insiders seeking to profit from stolen data, DLP solutions are instrumental in preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Mitigation of insider threats: Insider threats, including negligent employees and disgruntled insiders, pose a formidable challenge to data security. DLP solutions can help organisations identify and mitigate insider threats by monitoring and controlling user behaviour, detecting suspicious activities, and enforcing security policies.
  • Protection against external threats: Protection against external threats is crucial for organisations, as they face risks from cybercriminals, hackers, and nation-state actors. Notably, recent statistics reveal that the manufacturing sector ranked as the top targeted industry, comprising 20% of all cyber extortion campaigns. In this landscape, DLP solutions play a critical role in detecting and thwarting malicious activities like phishing attempts, malware infections, and data exfiltration.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy means organisations can mitigate the risks associated with data breaches, protect their sensitive information, maintain their reputation, and defend their financial well-being.

Five fundamental pillars of an effective DLP strategy

A strong data loss prevention (DLP) strategy is built on fundamental pillars that are essential for it to be effective. Here are the key pillars that organisations must consider when implementing a DLP strategy:

1: Data discovery and classification

The first step in any DLP strategy is to identify and classify sensitive data across the organisation's IT infrastructure.

This means discovering where sensitive data resides, including on-premises servers, cloud platforms, and endpoint devices, and categorising it based on its sensitivity and regulatory requirements.

By understanding the types of data your organisation possesses and where it is located, you can better protect it from unauthorised access and disclosure.

2: Access control

Controlling access to sensitive data is crucial for preventing unauthorised users from viewing, modifying, or sharing it.

Access control measures should be implemented based on the principle of least privilege, so that users have only the permissions they need to perform their job functions.

This involves enforcing strong authentication mechanisms, implementing role-based access controls, and regularly reviewing and updating access rights to align with business needs.

3: Policy enforcement

Establishing clear policies and procedures for handling sensitive data is essential for ensuring compliance and mitigating risk. These policies should outline acceptable use guidelines, data handling procedures, and consequences for policy violations.

DLP solutions can help automate policy enforcement by monitoring data usage in real-time, detecting policy violations, and taking appropriate remedial actions, such as blocking or encrypting sensitive data.

4: Monitoring and analysis

Continuous monitoring of data access and usage is critical for identifying and mitigating potential security threats. DLP solutions should provide comprehensive visibility into how sensitive data is being accessed, shared, and used across the organisation.

By analysing this data, security teams can identify suspicious activities, detect insider threats, and respond to security incidents in a timely manner.

5: Incident response planning:

Despite best efforts to prevent data breaches, security incidents may still occur. Having a well-defined incident response plan in place is essential for minimising the impact of security breaches and restoring normal operations quickly.

This plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident, including containment, investigation, remediation, and communication with stakeholders. Regular testing and rehearsal of the incident response plan can help ensure its effectiveness when needed.

By adhering to these fundamental pillars, organisations can establish a robust DLP strategy that effectively protects sensitive data, mitigates security risks, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

Continuous improvement of DLP strategy

A comprehensive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and refinement. Here are some key steps to ensure continuous improvement of your DLP strategy:

  • Regular assessments: Conduct periodic evaluations to identify weaknesses and emerging threats within the organisation's data security framework.
  • Stay updated: Remain informed about the latest trends and technologies in data security to effectively mitigate new risks.
  • Employee training: Invest in ongoing training initiatives to reinforce best practices and educate employees about emerging threats in data protection.
  • Incident response planning: Regularly review and update incident response plans to ensure they remain effective in addressing potential data breaches or security incidents.
  • Technology updates: Stay current with advancements in DLP technologies to leverage the latest features and threat intelligence for enhanced data protection.
  • Collaboration: Foster open communication and collaboration between IT, security teams, and stakeholders to ensure alignment with organisational goals and objectives.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic’s data security platform offers your organisation solutions to enhance your DLP strategy, including:

  • Data discovery: Metomic’s PII data discovery software enables scanning of your digital ecosystem to identify and classify sensitive data across all platforms and endpoints.
  • Policy enforcement: You can enforce data handling policies to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information.
  • Real-time monitoring: Metomic's real-time monitoring capabilities can detect suspicious activities and potential data breaches, allowing for timely intervention and remediation.

With Metomic's comprehensive suite of data protection solutions, organisations can strengthen their DLP strategy and safeguard their sensitive information against evolving threats.

Conclusion

Prioritising data loss prevention (DLP) strategies is crucial for organisations in a digital landscape where threats are constantly growing and evolving.

By understanding the fundamentals of DLP, recognising its importance, and implementing effective strategies, businesses can mitigate risks and protect valuable information assets.

With innovative solutions like Metomic's advanced data protection tool, organisations can strengthen their data security posture and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy and leveraging cutting-edge solutions is essential to safeguard data, protect reputation, and mitigate risks associated with data breaches in the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

Interested in strengthening your data loss prevention strategy?

Book your personalised demo to see how Metomic’s platform can help with data discovery, policy enforcement and data monitoring.

Key Points:

Data breaches have become a depressingly common, and increasingly prevalent part of the digital and business landscape. In fact, from 2022 to 2023, the US alone saw a 20% increase in data breaches.

As your organisation navigates this increasingly treacherous digital landscape and grapples with constantly evolving cyber threats, it’s more important than ever to protect sensitive data and information.

Failure to do so can seriously harm your reputation - British Airways suffered a data breach in 2018, and dropped from 31st to 55th in reputational score - as well as hurting your organisation financially, as we’ll see later.

This article explores what you and your security team need to do when creating a comprehensive and effective data loss prevention strategy, educating IT and security teams on safeguarding valuable data assets and mitigating against the myriad security threats worldwide.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) refers to a set of technologies and practices designed to prevent sensitive data from being lost, stolen, or leaked (whether inadvertently or maliciously) outside an organisation’s boundaries.

These solutions work by identifying, monitoring, and protecting sensitive data from unauthorised access, disclosure, or alteration.

While keeping any kind of data safe is important, it’s especially important, for example, if you’re a healthcare or financial services organisation, or any organisation that keeps what’s known as Personally Identifying Information (PII) on your customers.

This is information that can be used to identify a person - such as medical records, financial information, or address - and could be used to cause harm to that person.

Alarmingly, around 80% of all data breaches involve PII, highlighting the critical importance of DLP solutions. By understanding the types of data commonly targeted in breaches, organisations can tailor their DLP strategies effectively.

Why DLP is essential for organisations

Implementing a robust DLP strategy is essential for organisations of all sizes. Here are compelling reasons why prioritising DLP is crucial:

  • Financial implications: The financial repercussions of a data breach can be staggering. Globally, the average cost per data breach amounted to $4.45 million. For many organisations, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such financial losses can be devastating and may even lead to bankruptcy.
  • Reputational damage: As we mentioned earlier, data breaches not only result in financial losses but also inflict significant reputational damage. When customer data is compromised, organisations may lose the trust and confidence of their clients. Rebuilding a tarnished reputation can be a daunting task, and can take years.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: With the proliferation of data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe and HIPAA for healthcare in the United States, organisations are legally obligated to safeguard the personal information of their customers. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in severe penalties, fines, and legal consequences.
  • Protection of intellectual property: Beyond customer data, organisations also want to protect their intellectual property (IP). Whether it's trade secrets, product designs, or proprietary algorithms, the loss or theft of such sensitive data can have far-reaching consequences, including loss of competitive advantage and market share.
  • Prevention of data leakage: Data leakage, whether intentional or unintentional, poses a significant threat to organisations. Whether it's employees inadvertently sharing confidential information or malicious insiders seeking to profit from stolen data, DLP solutions are instrumental in preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Mitigation of insider threats: Insider threats, including negligent employees and disgruntled insiders, pose a formidable challenge to data security. DLP solutions can help organisations identify and mitigate insider threats by monitoring and controlling user behaviour, detecting suspicious activities, and enforcing security policies.
  • Protection against external threats: Protection against external threats is crucial for organisations, as they face risks from cybercriminals, hackers, and nation-state actors. Notably, recent statistics reveal that the manufacturing sector ranked as the top targeted industry, comprising 20% of all cyber extortion campaigns. In this landscape, DLP solutions play a critical role in detecting and thwarting malicious activities like phishing attempts, malware infections, and data exfiltration.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy means organisations can mitigate the risks associated with data breaches, protect their sensitive information, maintain their reputation, and defend their financial well-being.

Five fundamental pillars of an effective DLP strategy

A strong data loss prevention (DLP) strategy is built on fundamental pillars that are essential for it to be effective. Here are the key pillars that organisations must consider when implementing a DLP strategy:

1: Data discovery and classification

The first step in any DLP strategy is to identify and classify sensitive data across the organisation's IT infrastructure.

This means discovering where sensitive data resides, including on-premises servers, cloud platforms, and endpoint devices, and categorising it based on its sensitivity and regulatory requirements.

By understanding the types of data your organisation possesses and where it is located, you can better protect it from unauthorised access and disclosure.

2: Access control

Controlling access to sensitive data is crucial for preventing unauthorised users from viewing, modifying, or sharing it.

Access control measures should be implemented based on the principle of least privilege, so that users have only the permissions they need to perform their job functions.

This involves enforcing strong authentication mechanisms, implementing role-based access controls, and regularly reviewing and updating access rights to align with business needs.

3: Policy enforcement

Establishing clear policies and procedures for handling sensitive data is essential for ensuring compliance and mitigating risk. These policies should outline acceptable use guidelines, data handling procedures, and consequences for policy violations.

DLP solutions can help automate policy enforcement by monitoring data usage in real-time, detecting policy violations, and taking appropriate remedial actions, such as blocking or encrypting sensitive data.

4: Monitoring and analysis

Continuous monitoring of data access and usage is critical for identifying and mitigating potential security threats. DLP solutions should provide comprehensive visibility into how sensitive data is being accessed, shared, and used across the organisation.

By analysing this data, security teams can identify suspicious activities, detect insider threats, and respond to security incidents in a timely manner.

5: Incident response planning:

Despite best efforts to prevent data breaches, security incidents may still occur. Having a well-defined incident response plan in place is essential for minimising the impact of security breaches and restoring normal operations quickly.

This plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident, including containment, investigation, remediation, and communication with stakeholders. Regular testing and rehearsal of the incident response plan can help ensure its effectiveness when needed.

By adhering to these fundamental pillars, organisations can establish a robust DLP strategy that effectively protects sensitive data, mitigates security risks, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

Continuous improvement of DLP strategy

A comprehensive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and refinement. Here are some key steps to ensure continuous improvement of your DLP strategy:

  • Regular assessments: Conduct periodic evaluations to identify weaknesses and emerging threats within the organisation's data security framework.
  • Stay updated: Remain informed about the latest trends and technologies in data security to effectively mitigate new risks.
  • Employee training: Invest in ongoing training initiatives to reinforce best practices and educate employees about emerging threats in data protection.
  • Incident response planning: Regularly review and update incident response plans to ensure they remain effective in addressing potential data breaches or security incidents.
  • Technology updates: Stay current with advancements in DLP technologies to leverage the latest features and threat intelligence for enhanced data protection.
  • Collaboration: Foster open communication and collaboration between IT, security teams, and stakeholders to ensure alignment with organisational goals and objectives.

How can Metomic help?

Metomic’s data security platform offers your organisation solutions to enhance your DLP strategy, including:

  • Data discovery: Metomic’s PII data discovery software enables scanning of your digital ecosystem to identify and classify sensitive data across all platforms and endpoints.
  • Policy enforcement: You can enforce data handling policies to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information.
  • Real-time monitoring: Metomic's real-time monitoring capabilities can detect suspicious activities and potential data breaches, allowing for timely intervention and remediation.

With Metomic's comprehensive suite of data protection solutions, organisations can strengthen their DLP strategy and safeguard their sensitive information against evolving threats.

Conclusion

Prioritising data loss prevention (DLP) strategies is crucial for organisations in a digital landscape where threats are constantly growing and evolving.

By understanding the fundamentals of DLP, recognising its importance, and implementing effective strategies, businesses can mitigate risks and protect valuable information assets.

With innovative solutions like Metomic's advanced data protection tool, organisations can strengthen their data security posture and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Investing in a comprehensive DLP strategy and leveraging cutting-edge solutions is essential to safeguard data, protect reputation, and mitigate risks associated with data breaches in the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

Interested in strengthening your data loss prevention strategy?

Book your personalised demo to see how Metomic’s platform can help with data discovery, policy enforcement and data monitoring.