Security breaches rocked 2017. The global outbreak of WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware fundamentally changed the threat landscape, and attacks on organizations such as Equifax put astonishing amounts of data into the hands of hackers. It was a horrific year for data privacy and security—“cyber-geddon,” according to the BBC—and a wake-up call for CISOs and corporate legal departments everywhere.
Data volume has been growing exponentially, dramatically increasing opportunities for theft and accidental disclosure of sensitive information. According to International Data Corp (IDC), the “global datasphere” will reach 163 zettabytes by 2025. To put that in perspective, if every gigabyte in a zettabyte were a brick, one zettabyte would be the equivalent of 258 Great Walls of China. And more than a quarter of data will be real-time in nature. This reality, along with increases in the portability of data, employee mobility and penalties for failing to comply with strict data protection regulations such as the EU GDPR raise the question: “What more can organizations do to protect themselves and their stakeholders?” An integral part of the answer is data loss prevention (DLP).
DLP identifies, monitors and protects data in use, data in motion on your network, and data at rest in your data storage area or on desktops, laptops, mobile phones or tablets. Through deep content inspection and a contextual security analysis of transactions, DLP systems act as enforcers of data security policies. They provide a centralized management framework designed to detect and prevent the unauthorized use and transmission of your confidential information. DLP protects against mistakes that lead to data leaks and intentional misuse by insiders, as well as external attacks on your information infrastructure.
In the wake of recent security events and regulations, interest in the technology has exploded. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 50 percent of companies affected by the GDPR will not be in full compliance with its requirements.
The GDPR will affect not only EU-based organizations, but many data controllers and processors outside the EU as well. Threats of hefty fines, as well as the increasingly empowered position of individual data subjects tilt the business case for compliance and should cause decision makers to re-evaluate measures to safely process personal data. –Bart Willemsen, research director at Gartner
The loss of sensitive data and other forms of enterprise information can lead to significant financial losses and reputational damage. While companies are now well-aware of these dangers and data protection has become a hot topic, many organizations don’t fully understand the business case for DLP initiatives. With this context in mind, we have outlined 10 reasons your organization needs DLP.
1. You aren’t sure where your company’s confidential data is being stored, where it’s being sent and who is accessing it.
DLP technology provides IT and security staff with a 360-degree view of the location, flow and usage of data across the enterprise. It checks network actions against your organization’s security policies, it and allows you to protect and control sensitive data, including customer information, personally identifiable information (PII), financial data and intellectual property. With a thorough understanding of this data, your organization can set the appropriate policies to protect it and make risk-prioritized decisions about what assets need to be protected and at what cost.
2. Your company has a plan for protecting data from external intruders, but does not protect against theft and accidental disclosure of sensitive information by employees and partners.
Not all data loss is the result of external, malicious attacks. The inadvertent disclosure or mishandling of confidential data by internal employees is a significant factor. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, 28 percent of attacks involved insiders. The insider threat can be particularly difficult to guard against—it’s hard to spot, if someone is using their legitimate access to data for nefarious purposes. DLP can detect files that contain confidential information and prevent them from leaving via the network. It can block sensitive data transfers to Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives and other removable media, and offers the ability to apply policies that safeguard data on a case-by-case basis. For example, if a security event is detected, access to a specific endpoint can be blocked instantly. Policies can also quarantine or encrypt data in real-time response to events.
3. You are concerned about the liability, negative exposure, fines and lost revenue associated with data breaches.
Data breaches have been making headlines with alarming frequency. They can wreak havoc on an organization’s bottom line through fines, bad publicity, loss of strategic customers and legal action. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study, the mean time to identify (MTTI) breaches has reached an average of 191 days, which translates into over six months of dwell time for attackers. Dwell time enables lateral movement — the key to increasing hackers’ chances of success.
4. You are concerned about your next audit and want to maintain compliance with complex regulations.
Requirements such as the GDPR and NY Cybersecurity Requirements are ushering in a new era of accountability, in which every regulated organization that collects, stores and uses sensitive customer data needs to raise the bar to meet new standards. Consequences for non-compliance can include fines of up to four percent of annual worldwide turnover, and instructions to cease processing. Technology controls are becoming necessary to achieve compliance in certain areas. DLP provides these controls, as well as policy templates and maps that address specific requirements, automate compliance, and enable the collection and reporting of metrics.
5. You need to protect data against security threats caused by BYOD and IoT.
When used in conjunction with complementary controls, DLP helps to prevent the accidental exposure of confidential information across all devices. Wherever data lives, in transit on the network, at rest in storage, or in use, DLP can monitor it and significantly reduce the risk of data loss.
6. You would like to monitor your organization for inappropriate employee conduct and maintain forensic data of security events as evidence.
Insiders represent a significant risk to data security. An employee who emails a work-related document to his personal account in order to work over the weekend may have good intentions. However, he or she poses a tremendous threat when there is confidential data involved. DLP technology offers 360-degree monitoring that includes email (both corporate accounts and webmail), instant messages, keystrokes typed, documents accessed and applications used. It also allows you to capture and archive evidence of incidents for forensic analysis. With DLP, you can limit and filter Web surfing, and control which applications employees can access. It is an invaluable tool in the effort to stop dangerous or time-wasting activities, and helps to detect problems before they can damage your business.
7. You are uncertain of your organization’s level of protection for confidential data in cloud applications and storage.
Data is increasingly being moved to applications in the cloud—an environment in which it is not apparent where data will be physically stored and processed. DLP recognizes confidential data, ensures that it does not make its way into the cloud without being encrypted, and is only sent to authorized cloud applications. Most cloud DLP solutions remove or alter classified or sensitive data before files are shared to the cloud to ensure that the data is protected when in transit and in cloud storage.
8. Your organization would like to proactively prevent the misuse of data at endpoints, both on and off the corporate network.
DLP technology monitors all endpoint activity, on the corporate network or off. It can block emails or attachments containing confidential data, enforce policies on the transfer of data to removable media devices such as USB thumb drives, and even prevent activities such as printing, copying and pasting. DLP offers complete data visibility and control, ensuring that employees, third-party vendors, contractors and partners are prevented from leaking your data—intentionally or inadvertently.
9. You would like to automate corporate governance as a means of improving compliance while saving time and resources.
DLP capabilities for the enforcement and automation of corporate policies and processes can help improve technical and organizational efficiencies, promote compliance, and provide methods for more comprehensive information governance. DLP provides up-to date policy templates and maps that address specific requirements, automate compliance, and enable the collection and reporting of metrics. When a policy need is identified, DLP can make the change as simple as enabling an appropriate policy template on your system.
10. You would like to gain a competitive advantage, in both brand value and reputation.
When organizations fail to take the necessary steps to identify sensitive data and protect it from loss or misuse, they are risking their ability to compete. Companies that get data protection and privacy right can enhance their brand reputation and resilience going forward. Those that get it wrong are likely to end up in the financial, reputational, and legal line of fire. DLP facilitates the protection of critical data, and helps to prevent the negative publicity and loss of revenue that inevitably follow data breaches.
Data Loss Prevention Should Not Be An Afterthought
Today’s digital transformation—from mobile devices to embedded systems, hypervisors, social media applications and the proliferation of connected devices—has created a “borderless” network perimeter with multiple attack vectors. To adjust to this technology revolution, organizations need to ensure their most sensitive data and assets are secured. When properly deployed, DLP provides visibility, granular control and data protection coverage to protect against mistakes that lead to data loss, intentional misuse by insiders, and external attacks. Developing a comprehensive data loss prevention strategy shouldn’t be an afterthought; it can help your company protect its “crown jewels,” maintain compliance with the evolving regulatory landscape, and avoid being the next data breach headline.