July 18, 2023
 min read

What is Data Loss Prevention? Use Cases, Benefits & Best Practices

Stay ahead of data breaches, protect sensitive information, and prevent data loss with our comprehensive guide to Data Loss Prevention in 2023 with these DLP best practices.


This article talks about Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and its importance in safeguarding sensitive data, ensuring compliance, and preventing breaches. 

DLP protects data by:

  • Preventing unauthorized access 
  • Strengthening compliance 
  • Reducing the risk of data breaches
  • Boosting enterprise-wide data transparency
  • Classifying and storing sensitive data 

To maximize DLP investment, organizations must:

  • Establish primary goals
  • Align with security strategies
  • Prioritize critical information
  • Develop implementation plans
  • Continuously monitor data
  • Establish protocols, change management guidelines and metrics

Choose the ideal DLP solution for an organization based on:

  • Deployment options
  • Managed services
  • Types of threats and data
  • Content or context-based inspection and classification
  • Current security infrastructure
  • Technologies to integrate with the DLP solution
  • Timeline for deployment

Cloud DLP solutions, like Strac, provide unparalleled visibility and control into an organization's critical data while mitigating fraudulent activity.

Data loss can be a nightmare, costing businesses valuable time and money. Losing crucial data means losing countless hours of hard work, critical data, and ultimately client trust. Data breaches are an unfortunate reality of our digital world and are increasingly common. 

According to Statista, the average cost of a data breach globally in 2022 was $4.35 million, a 2.6% increase from 2021. Protecting sensitive information has never been more crucial in today's interconnected society. 

Here’s introducing our step-by-step data loss prevention guide to empower you with the knowledge and strategies necessary to safeguard your data effectively. By implementing the best practices outlined in this guide, you can minimize the risk of data loss and ensure business continuity.

What is Data Loss Prevention?

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is essential to an organization's security strategy. It identifies and prevents data loss, leakage, or abuse caused by breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information. It delivers comprehensive security measures by classifying content and implementing data loss prevention techniques.

DLP security solutions are more than just data storage and retention policies. They help organizations maintain regulatory compliance. DLP solutions promptly respond to breaches or security incidents with alerts, encryption, and data isolation capabilities. DLP solutions accelerate incident response by identifying threats and anomalous activity during routine monitoring. 

Moreover, they ensure compliance with regulations like HIPAA and GDPR. A comprehensive DLP system provides complete insight into all network data, whether in use, motion, or rest. 

Why is DLP important?

Data loss can severely affect businesses, including hefty fines and potential criminal penalties. Moreover, it can significantly harm an organization's reputation and lead to its downfall. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Zogby Analytics in 2019, 10% of small businesses ceased operations after experiencing a data breach, while 25% filed for bankruptcy and 37% suffered significant financial losses.

As companies increasingly adopt remote work and rely on cloud-based infrastructure, having a robust DLP (Data Loss Prevention) solution has become essential to their risk reduction strategy. A DLP solution offers comprehensive protection for sensitive data by addressing both physical and digital security threats and preventing unauthorized access or information misuse. 

Here is how a DLP solution safeguards critical data:

  • The True Cost of Compliance with Data Protection Regulations study, sponsored by Globalscape, reveals that the average cost of non-compliance can range from $14 million to $40 million. A DLP solution strengthens compliance with current security policies by detecting network violations and unauthorized user activity. 
  • Reducing the risk of data breaches and loss, cutting down the costs involved. According to IBM, the cost of a data breach reached USD 4.35 million in 2022, an increase of 2.6% from 2021. DLP solution integration can automatically detect or restrict unauthorized actions, reducing the risk of data breaches and improving compliance.
  • Boosting enterprise-wide data transparency with 360-degree network and endpoint visibility. DLP tools can boost visibility, enabling businesses to understand sensitive data movement in-depth.
  • Minimizing the possibility of reputational damage by preventing and responding swiftly to data breaches. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the projected annual cost of cybercrime is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. DLP solutions enable businesses to quickly detect and respond to potential breaches, reducing the extent of damage that can be caused.
  • According to Ocean Tomo's Intangible Asset Market Value Study, the proportion of intangible assets increased significantly from 17% to 84% between 1975 and 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this trend, with intangible assets now accounting for 90% of the market value of the S&P 500 making data more vulnerable to cyberattacks. A DLP solution can classify and store sensitive and business-critical data efficiently to protect your data. 
  • 74% of data breaches included the human element - social engineering, errors or misuse, according to the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. DLP integration is required to automatically flag such unauthorized activities, mitigate internal threats, analyze user and entity behavior, and identify advanced security risks.

3 Main Uses Cases for DLP

1. Personal data and compliance

Compliance with standards like HIPAA for protected health information and GDPR for personal data should be a top priority for any organization that collects PII, PHI, or PCI data. DLP makes classifying sensitive information easy, keeping tabs on any actions involving that information, and generating reports for compliance audits. It's also important to note that DLP systems provide options for controlling access to sensitive data. It guarantees that only those with the proper authorization get access to certain categories of data, minimizing the possibility of a data breach.

2. IP Protection

Every company has to protect valuable intellectual property and business-critical information. Modern DLP systems can reduce risks to your organization's finances and reputation through context-based categorization in structured and unstructured forms. With effective regulations in place, businesses can prevent the unauthorized exfiltration of data. Loss of intellectual property can result in a competitive disadvantage as well as financial and reputational harm. DLP systems use advanced algorithms to detect and categorize sensitive data, reducing the likelihood of data breaches.

3. Data visibility

A thorough understanding of data movement can be achieved by implementing an enterprise Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution. Gain the ability to track and monitor data on various endpoints, networks, and the cloud, empowering you to fully understand the interactions of individual users with your company's data. Real-time monitoring capabilities provided by DLP systems enable rapid detection and remediation of potentially risky data transfer. Additionally, these solutions offer analytical insights that can help organizations optimize their data security measures over time.

Benefits of DLP Solution

Below are the benefits of implementing a DLP security solution:

1. Reduce the risk of security incidents

Investing in a DLP solution is wise for companies looking to reduce the risk of data breaches. Organizations gain complete visibility into the information being accessed, providing them with an added layer of protection. Thanks to DLP solutions, businesses can effectively protect themselves from ransomware attacks, prevent data theft, unauthorized sharing of documents, and combat phishing attempts.

IBM report

2. Categorize sensitive data

Your company can readily detect breaches and protect sensitive data if it has a complete picture of the data movement throughout the cycle. You can establish a compliant data policy that guarantees the safety of critical information using DLP'S data categorization. 

3. Prevent suspicious activity

DLP systems can identify and prevent unauthorized activity on your network thanks to their sophisticated scanning abilities. DLP guarantees that sensitive information stays protected inside the bounds of your network, whether it is sent by email, copied to external devices, or any other means.

4. Classify data automatically

Automatic classification is a process that collects important details about a document, such as its creation date, storage location, and sharing methods. This information is used to enhance the accuracy and effectiveness of data classification within your organization. A DLP solution utilizes this information to effectively implement your DLP policy, thereby reducing the risk of unauthorized sharing of sensitive data.

5. Adhere to regulatory compliance

Complying with data protection regulations such as HIPAA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is critical. Adopting a DLP solution gives you access to extensive reporting features that simplify compliance audits, reducing noncompliance risks and penalties.

6.Monitor data access and user activity

DLP solutions are designed to monitor data access and usage to mitigate threats effectively. It ensures that only those with permission can access sensitive information and keeps track of their activities

DLP mitigates the risks associated with insider breaches and fraudulent activities by effectively managing the digital identities of employees, vendors, and partners within the network. Role-based access control (RBAC) is one approach that guarantees only authorized users have access to sensitive information.

7.Improve visibility and control

DLP solutions provide unparalleled visibility into your organization's critical data while identifying fraudulent activity. As organizations transition to cloud computing, maintaining visibility over sensitive information becomes challenging, demanding a cloud DLP solution. 

Strac, a  cloud DLP solution, automatically detects and redacts (masks) sensitive data (images, text, audio, video) from all Cloud and SaaS apps (email, slack, zendesk, intercom, AWS services, Google Drive, One Drive, ChatGPT, and more).

You get to choose the degree of confidentiality for each record and can also set up automatic responses for security incidents. You can further configure in-depth data and content analysis evaluating both present and future risks bolstering cybersecurity and DLP initiatives. 

8.Prevent insider attack

When it comes to protecting data within an organization, DLP security solutions shine due to their ability to classify and constantly monitor critical data. They dramatically boost your data security by identifying and blocking suspicious and illegal activity. In addition, these systems can identify accidental actions that could result in data loss or leakage, ensuring that your sensitive information is always protected.

Types of Data Threats and Attack

Data threats statistics

Data threats can seriously impact the security of your organization's data, compromising its integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility. On the other hand, data leaks expose sensitive information to harmful environments. Types of data attacks include:

1. Cyberattacks

A cyberattack is an intentional and malicious attempt to illegally penetrate computer systems, targeting organizations and individuals to collect, alter, or destroy data illegally. Cyberattacks include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, spyware, and ransomware. 

In February 2020, Amazon Web Services was targeted by a massive DDoS attack using Connectionless Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (CLDAP) reflection. This method uses susceptible third-party CLDAP servers that multiply the amount of data delivered to the victim's IP address by 56 to 70 times. The three-day attack peaked at a staggering 2.3 gigabytes per second.

2. Malware

Malware refers to any malicious program cybercriminals use to infiltrate a computer system or network by infecting them to steal confidential information. 

Ransomware is a kind of malware that presents a substantial risk to both people and businesses. It prevents access to important data and systems or even destroys them until a ransom is paid. Human-operated ransomware primarily targets businesses and can be extremely difficult to detect and reverse. Attackers utilize collective intelligence to enter a company's network, making it more difficult for security measures to identify and combat the attack.

Royal launched a ransomware attack on Dallas, causing the city to close down its critical systems, including the websites for the police department and city hall, to prevent the attack from spreading. The group threatened to disclose sensitive personal data, extensive court documents, medical information, and government records.

3. Insider attacks

Insiders have intimate information regarding your computer systems and security policies. Insider risk occurs when these insiders abuse their permitted access to cause damage to your organization. On the other hand, unintentional exposure happens when employees accidentally grant access to unauthorized users or viruses. 

A Yahoo research scientist stole confidential information about a Yahoo product after accepting a job offer from a competitor. He downloaded 570,000 IP pages to his personal device to help him in his new job. An example of unintentional exposure was the infamous 2020 Twitter spear-phishing attack that compromised multiple high-profile accounts. Attackers targeted the right employees and got access to 130 Twitter accounts.

4. Phishing

Phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails while posing as reputable businesses or reliable sources. The fundamental purpose of phishing attacks is to trick users into providing sensitive information such as credentials and payment information. These phishing attacks can target individuals, departments, or even entire corporations.

FedEx email scammers sent out a "package delivery notification" that said, "Your package is being held in our warehouse." The email was sent in the hope that people would click the link instead of looking for the tracking number. It was a phishing attempt to obtain personal and financial data.

Check out Strac Gmail Data Loss Prevention

8 Data Loss Prevention Best Practices

Given the complexity of the threat environment and the magnitude of business networks, implementing a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy is no easy feat. The most important step is to choose a reliable and competent cybersecurity partner with immense expertise to support you from planning to rollout and maintenance.

Below best practices can help you maximize your DLP investment. 

  1. Data classification and inventory: Prioritize the data you need to protect. Understand the different categories of data in your organization (like PII, PHI, PCI data) and classify them based on their sensitivity levels. An accurate data inventory is the foundation for effective data loss prevention.
  2. Define policies and procedures: Develop clear DLP policies and procedures based on the type of data you have, its sensitivity, and applicable compliance regulations. This includes identifying who has access to what data, under what circumstances data can be transferred or shared, and what to do in case of a potential breach.
  3. Limit access and implement Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP): Restrict access to sensitive data and implement the principle of least privilege, granting employees access to only the information necessary for their role. This reduces the risk of data exposure from the inside.
  4. Encrypt sensitive data: Always encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest. In the event of a breach, encryption can render the data useless to unauthorized individuals.
  5. Regularly monitor and audit data movements: Use your DLP solution to continuously monitor and log all data movements within your network. Regular audits of these logs can help identify potential threats before they cause damage.
  6. Employee training and awareness: Conduct regular DLP training and make sure all employees understand the importance of data security. Often, data breaches are the result of ignorance rather than malicious intent.
  7. Test and update your DLP solution regularly: Regular testing and updating of your DLP system can help you keep up with evolving security threats. It also helps to ensure that your DLP system remains compatible with other systems in your IT infrastructure.
  8. Incident response plan: Have a well-defined incident response plan in place. In the event of a data breach, your team should know exactly what steps to take. This includes how to isolate affected systems, how to investigate the breach, how to communicate the breach to stakeholders and authorities, and how to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Secure your Data with DLP Solutions

Data threats are inevitable. It's not a matter of if they'll happen, but when. That's why selecting the ideal Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution for your organization is crucial.

To help you choose the best-suited DLP solution for your organization, answer these questions first

  • Are you looking for a deployment solution offering various architecture options? What about managed services? 
  • Are you more concerned with defending against internal, external, or both threats? 
  • Do you require content or context-based inspection and classification? 
  • Is your priority protecting structured or unstructured data? 
  • Will you need to enforce security measures based on policies, events, or users?
  • What is the state of your current security infrastructure? What technologies do you wish to integrate with the DLP solution?
  • What is your preferred timeline for deploying a DLP solution?
  • Do you need to onboard more employees to manage your DLP program? Do you have an employment training program in place?

Ensure compliance and streamline data protection seamlessly with Strac DLP 

Strac offers a quick and easy solution to ensure your organization has the right compliance measures in place for audits. Our DLP solution helps you meet compliance requirements efficiently by automating daily tasks and streamlining data protection processes. 

With Strac's redaction experience, you can easily block sensitive customer data such as,

  • PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
  • PHI (Protected Health Information)
  • PCI (Payment Card Industry) information. 

This ensures that your organization remains compliant while keeping sensitive data secure. Strac's audit reports give 100% visibility and control over data, providing detailed insights into your data usage, allowing you to monitor and manage it effectively.

Here’s what a customer says about our platform.

Strac is enabling us to open new channels securely!" Strac secures our Intercom instance by automatically detecting and redacting sensitive data like PCI and PII data. The integration was straightforward and got done in less than 10 minutes. More importantly, their software and machine learning to detect and redact is accurate. Also, the support has been outstanding.” reads a G2 review.

Related reads:

Founder, Strac. ex-Amazon Payments Infrastructure (Widget, API, Security) Builder for 11 years.

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