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How DLP Security Software Can Help Protect Your Company’s Sensitive Data

With a remote workforce and more data stored in the cloud, protecting sensitive information has become a growing challenge for companies. A DLP solution can help prevent sensitive data loss and data breaches.

When selecting a DLP provider, consider the following factors: Does the vendor defend against internal and external threats? Does it protect data at rest and in transit? Does it allow users to classify documents?

Prevention

DLP solutions can prevent data loss from external threats and malicious insiders by monitoring how users access sensitive information. These solutions detect and block unauthorized data transfer and can alert staff to actions that put data at risk.

Upon installation, DLP solutions perform an initial sweep of all endpoints, servers, and databases to find the location of your most sensitive data. They then work to monitor the movement of this data from those locations. This is important because different data types are at greater risk when transferred to other systems (e.g., email attachments or USB storage devices).

When DLP security software detects a potential threat, it generates an alert and may block the data transfer. This could involve encrypting the file, moving it to another location, or simply changing its properties so it can no longer be used without permission.

DLP solutions also use data identification techniques to identify specific types of sensitive data stored in files. One common technique is fingerprinting, which uses algorithms to match the full data text to shorter text strings with unique identifiers, much like human fingerprints. This process helps IT departments to identify credit cards, license numbers, personal identification information, and other common types of sensitive data.

Sensitive Data Protection

Sensitive data is anything a company doesn’t want unauthorized individuals to see because of the negative financial, security, or privacy impact that could occur. To protect sensitive data from being leaked or breached, it is critical to understand where it lives inside your network and how it moves between devices. This requires proper detection of the various data types; for that, a DLP solution must be able to classify different forms of unstructured information.

Dedicated DLP tools can automatically perform this classification or allow users to classify their documents and files. The DLP system then uses this sensitivity classification to set up policies for detecting and reporting specific actions, such as scanning or blocking a file transfer, encrypting it before it leaves the network, or modifying how it is stored in the cloud.

This enables organizations to comply with ever-changing regulations like GDPR, CCPA, etc. These regulations often require companies to be transparent about where and how customer data is collected, accessed, stored and sent between systems. DLP can help identify and report on these activities, set up remediation with alerts, monitor all incoming and outgoing data transfers, and ensure compliance with regulatory guidelines. This also helps prevent security threats like data breaches, exfiltration, and unwanted destruction. In addition, it can prevent rogue employee behaviors and human error that may lead to data loss or leakage.

Detection

DLP tools search for sensitive information at rest and in motion, such as when it’s attached to an email or saved to a USB drive. They use various methods to identify and detect sensitive data, including identifying patterns and regular expressions (regex) that are matched against specific types of information such as credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, and names and addresses.

Another method used by DLP solutions is fingerprinting. This algorithm maps longer text strings to shorter ones that are unique identifiers for the corresponding data and files, much like human fingerprints uniquely identify individuals. DLP solutions that use this technology can identify information such as credit card numbers, PII, and license and medical records within documents without disrupting the workflows of employees or business processes.

A third approach used by DLP solutions is monitoring the movement of data. DLP tools monitor endpoints, network file shares, databases, and sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud apps for confidential information to give companies complete visibility and control of their information–wherever it lives and travels.

The DLP software will raise an alert whenever a pattern of suspicious activity is detected. While this doesn’t necessarily mean a data breach is occurring, it could signal that the business needs to change its security standards or take other preventative measures.

Reporting

A DLP solution can scan files for sensitive data at rest or in transit, encrypt that data so it can’t be read, and notify administrators of suspicious activity. Many solutions also offer user prompting that can educate employees about the potential risks of specific types of file movement. This can help reduce insider threats, which account for most security breaches today.

DLP software uses various tools, including machine learning, OCR, and natural language processing, to scan systems for keywords like Social Security or credit card numbers to identify sensitive information. The system then prioritizes the most sensitive documents. It can stop them from being copied onto USB drives, sent out in email or via chat apps. It can even prevent data from being exported from an application to unauthorized systems.

DLP systems are designed to detect and protect against internal and external threats. The system will assess each system’s security posture on an endpoint and block data from being moved to a non-compliant device or system.

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