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June 12, 2024
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7
 min read

A Complete Guide on DLP Monitoring: Importance and Benefits

Everything you need to know about DLP monitoring, its benefits, importance, tools, and methods. Learn about data handling policies and how to implement them.

A Complete Guide on DLP Monitoring: Importance and Benefits
Calendar Icon White
June 12, 2024
Clock Icon
7
 min read

A Complete Guide on DLP Monitoring: Importance and Benefits

Everything you need to know about DLP monitoring, its benefits, importance, tools, and methods. Learn about data handling policies and how to implement them.

TL;DR

  • DLP monitoring is vital for cybersecurity in today's remote work and cloud-reliant culture.
  • It continuously scans data flow to detect and prevent breaches while ensuring compliance with data protection laws.
  • The benefits include preventing insider threats, enhancing data visibility and control, and authentically verifying user access.
  • DLP scanning and monitoring help implement effective data handling policies to protect sensitive information.
  • Strac's DLP solution offers data protection with real-time analysis, assists with compliance, effectively detects insider threats, and ensures long-term breach avoidance.

As data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information rise each year, cyberattacks pose a significant threat to businesses across sectors. According to McKinsey, cyberattack damages are projected to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Given the remote working culture and reliance on the cloud, DLP monitoring is crucial for cybersecurity today.

DLP systems monitor data flow across networks, endpoints, and cloud services, using tailored policies to detect anomalies and policy breaches. Data loss prevention solutions enable swift responses to breaches and aid forensic investigations by classifying data and setting security levels. This blog explores a comprehensive guide on DLP monitoring and its importance for effective data management across organizations. Let's begin.

What is DLP Monitoring?

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) monitoring is critical to cybersecurity strategies. It focuses on continuous scanning, visibility, and control over the movement and storage of sensitive data within an organization's network, endpoints, and cloud environments. Its primary goal is to detect and prevent unauthorized access, misuse, or exfiltration of sensitive information, safeguarding against data breaches and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.

DLP solutions protect an organization’s high-risk data and ensure compliance with regulatory data security and privacy regulations. The primary functions of DLP solutions include:

  • Defining and discovering sensitive data.
  • Providing secure means of transferring data through insecure channels.
  • Monitoring the discovered data both at rest and in motion.

Alongside this, continuous monitoring engines are responsible for observing the data, raising alarms, and activating preventive mechanisms whenever unauthorized access or usage is suspected. This monitoring is crucial as it is the last defense against attacks and one of the few mechanisms to address internal threats and prevent costly accidents.

Importance of DLP Monitoring

The importance of DLP monitoring lies in its ability to avoid data loss, which can result in hefty fines and possibly criminal penalties, negatively affecting an organization's business and even putting it out of business. It is also used to help organizations with data security and ensure they comply with regulations like:

1. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) grants residents more control over the data businesses collect. DLP monitoring helps organizations identify and safeguard sensitive consumer information to meet CCPA requirements.

2. EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes stringent standards on data protection for EU individuals. DLP solutions aid GDPR compliance by monitoring data flow, detecting breaches, and preventing unauthorized access to personal data.

3. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects patient health information. DLP monitoring is crucial for healthcare organizations to comply with HIPAA by securing electronic protected health information (ePHI) and detecting potential data breaches.

Implementing robust DLP monitoring enhances data protection, reduces fines, and ensures compliance with these vital privacy laws. DLP monitoring is integral to a comprehensive data security strategy in today's regulated digital landscape.

Critical Benefits of DLP Monitoring

DLP monitoring offers more than continuous data flow monitoring to prevent breaches. Here are some key benefits of DLP monitoring include:

1. Preventing Data-Related Incidents Caused by Insiders

DLP monitoring is crucial in avoiding data-related incidents caused by insiders within an organization. By constantly classifying and monitoring sensitive information, DLP solutions can detect and prevent suspicious and unauthorized operations with data. This benefit is essential as it helps organizations mitigate the risks associated with insider threats, whether intentional or unintentional and safeguard their valuable data from unauthorized access or misuse.

2. Compliance with Cybersecurity Requirements, Laws, and Standards

DLP monitoring enables organizations to comply with relevant data protection standards, laws, and regulations such as HIPAA, GLBA, PCI DSS, SOX, and FISMA. By implementing DLP solutions, organizations can reduce the risks of non-compliance and potential extensive fines. DLP monitoring ensures organizations adhere to cybersecurity requirements and regulatory standards, helping them maintain a secure and compliant data environment while avoiding legal penalties and reputational damage.

3. Improving Visibility and Control Over the Organization's Data

DLP systems provide companies with enhanced visibility into their sensitive assets and outbound data flow. By monitoring data movement and access, organizations can gain insights into what sensitive data they possess and track where it is being transmitted. This improved visibility empowers organizations to have better control over their data, enabling them to set appropriate levels of confidentiality for each data type. With DLP monitoring software, organizations can proactively identify unauthorized attempts to access or transmit data, allowing them to intervene and prevent potential data breaches before significant damage occurs.

4. Definitively Authenticating Each User Before Data Access

Authenticating each user before data access is critical to data loss prevention (DLP) strategies. This process involves verifying the identity of users before granting them access to sensitive data, ensuring that only authorized individuals can view, modify, or transmit sensitive information. The importance of definitive authentication lies in its ability to prevent unauthorized access to data, which can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.

What is a Data Handling Policy with Examples?

A company protects its data by following specific rules called data handling policies. These policies control how people inside and outside the company use information. Depending on the type of DLP tool used, data is classified beforehand or classified as being used based on how sensitive it is or how much harm its loss could cause the company. This classification helps ensure that different types of data are adequately protected. 

The general classification categorization is based on the data's sensitivity and impact. It typically includes categories such as,

  • Public
  • Internal
  • Confidential, and 
  • Highly Confidential

Each represents a different level of sensitivity and risk associated with the data. 

For example, a policy might require that important data be encrypted before being sent in emails.

Once data is classified, a DLP solution works to prevent accidental or intentional breaches of the rules. Sometimes, it automatically encrypts sensitive information before allowing it to be sent. This also helps prevent certain users from accessing specific data.

Here are some instances showcasing the importance of DLP monitoring in safeguarding an organization's valuable data:

Example 1: An employee tries to print sensitive files containing customers' personally identifiable information (PII), violating both company data policies and regulatory standards. DLP monitoring identifies this breach and prevents printing, enforcing company rules, and regulatory compliance.

Example 2: A user downloads low-risk data to their company laptop and shares it via mass email, per the enterprise policy allowing such actions.

Example 3: The DLP tool classifies new data as high-risk, but unauthorized system admins attempt to move it to cloud storage. DLP monitoring detects this unauthorized action and denies permission to move the sensitive data to unapproved storage.

Implementing Effective Data Handling Policies

Implementing effective data handling policies is crucial for organizations to safeguard their data management practices' security, integrity, and compliance. Here are the key components involved in implementing such policies:

1. Comprehensive Data Classification

Organize data by sensitivity, criticality, and regulations. Apply security measures and access controls accordingly. This prioritizes data protection and streamlines management processes, ensuring that sensitive information receives appropriate levels of security.

2. Employee Training and Awareness

Educate staff on data security best practices, protocols, and regulatory requirements. This empowers employees to understand the risks, procedures, and consequences of breaches, enabling them to protect data and reduce security incidents effectively. By fostering a culture of security awareness, organizations can create a vigilant and proactive workforce to safeguard sensitive information.

3. Regulatory Compliance

Ensure alignment with GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA. Implement policies for encryption, access controls, and breach notifications. Uphold data privacy principles to avoid legal consequences and maintain customer trust. Compliance with regulations mitigates legal risks, enhances the organization's reputation, and builds stakeholder trust.

4. Data Sanitization and Access Controls

Securely delete or destroy unnecessary data. Prevent unauthorized access and data exposure. Implement authentication, permissions, and encryption to limit access based on roles. Proper data sanitization and access controls are essential for protecting sensitive information throughout its lifecycle, from creation to disposal. This reduces the risk of data breaches and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements.

5. Continuous Monitoring and Incident Response

Detect and respond to threats in real time. Proactively identify suspicious behavior and breaches. Promptly contain, investigate, and remediate security incidents to maintain data integrity. Continuous monitoring and incident response capabilities are crucial for promptly identifying and mitigating security threats, minimizing the impact of data breaches, and maintaining trust with customers and stakeholders.

DLP Monitoring Tools & Methods

DLP monitoring tools and methods are essential to modern business cybersecurity strategies as they help organizations monitor data flows, identify sensitive data being transmitted, and prevent data exfiltration. Here are some essential tools and methods for monitoring DLP in businesses:

  • Endpoint Monitoring: Endpoint DLP are essential for monitoring sensitive data movement on employee devices like laptops, desktops, and mobile devices. They detect data breaches, unauthorized access to sensitive information, and unapproved applications on employee devices, enhancing data security at the endpoint level.
  • Content-aware DLP: These solutions are designed to identify and monitor sensitive data, including customer, financial, intellectual property, and other confidential information. These solutions can detect and prevent data leaks or exfiltration in real time, safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorized access or misuse.
  • Network Monitoring Tools: Network monitoring tools help organizations monitor data flows, identify sensitive data being transmitted, and prevent data exfiltration. These tools enable quick identification of potential threats and facilitate preventive measures to mitigate risks.
  • Data Discovery Tool: Data discovery tools identify and locate sensitive data across an organization. They provide visibility into the location and distribution of sensitive data across various devices, databases, and cloud storage systems, helping organizations effectively manage and protect their critical information assets.
  • User Behavior Analytics: User behavior analytics helps organizations monitor and analyze user actions, such as data access, file transfers, and email activity, to detect anomalous behavior that could indicate a security threat. Organizations can identify potential data breaches by monitoring user behavior and proactively protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access or misuse.

DLP Monitoring vs Active Network Monitoring vs Encryption

Here is a comparative table between DLP monitoring, active network monitoring, and encryption to help you understand and distinguish them better.

Comparison DLP Monitoring Active Network Monitoring Encryption
Definition A proactive and continuous approach to prevent data breaches Inspects network traffic in real-time for suspicious activity Critical for data protection, rendering intercepted data unreadable
Proactive Approach Continuously scans data flows to prevent breaches Inspects network traffic in real-time for suspicious activity Critical for data protection, rendering intercepted data unreadable
Real-time Analysis Analyzes data streams instantly for suspicious activity Enforces policies on sensitive data discovery Ensures secure data transmission and storage
Contextualized Alerts Provides detailed alerts for swift security responses Centralized control for consistent policy enforcement Requirement for regulatory compliance
Compliance Aids compliance with evolving standards like HIPAA, GDPR Assists with compliance by tracking data flow Safeguards data both in transit and at rest
Improved Visibility Offers 360-degree visibility across network and endpoints Detects threats early for timely mitigation Forms part of a multi-layered security approach

The critical difference between DLP Monitoring, Active Network Monitoring, and Encryption is as follows:

DLP Monitoring continuously scans and analyzes data flows across networks, endpoints, and cloud environments to detect and prevent real-time data breaches. Active Network Monitoring inspects network traffic to identify and block suspicious activity, enforcing policies to restrict, quarantine, or encrypt sensitive data. 

Meanwhile, encryption protects data by ensuring that it cannot be accessed without the decryption key, even if intercepted, providing an additional layer of security for data in transit and at rest. 

Overall, while DLP Monitoring and Active Network Monitoring focus on detecting and preventing data leaks, Encryption secures data by making it unreadable to unauthorized parties.

How is DLP Monitoring better than Active Network Monitoring and Encryption?

Even though Active Network Monitoring (ANP) and Encryption have their pros, the essentiality of DLP Scanning and monitoring must be considered for businesses.

  • Comprehensive Data Protection: DLP offers a 360-degree view of the enterprise, enhancing data visibility across networks, endpoints, and cloud environments. It utilizes continuous scanning and analysis to prevent data breaches proactively.
  • Real-time Analysis and Response: DLP performs instant analysis of data streams to identify and restrict suspicious activity and provides contextualized alerts for rapid and effective security incident response.
  • Compliance Assistance: Data Prevention Loss aids compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI DSS through flexible data classification and storage. It also offers detailed logs and reports for forensic investigations, ensuring regulatory compliance.
  • Insider Threat Detection: DLP monitoring detects suspicious activity by trusted employees, even on public networks, and provides robust protection against insider threats.
  • Adaptability to Remote Work: This feature protects data in remote work scenarios, unlike active network monitoring, which is limited to corporate networks. It is essential for securing data in today's hybrid work environments.

What are the Long-Term Benefits of DLP Monitoring?

Here are the long-term benefits of DLP monitoring, with explanations for each point:

  • Breach Avoidance and Compliance: Integral to breach avoidance strategies, DLP monitoring employs continuous scanning and analysis to avert real-time data breaches. Enforcing data handling policies and curbing unauthorized access ensures compliance with evolving data protection regulations, reducing the risk of costly breaches and reputational harm.
  • Core of Data Protection Initiatives: DLP monitoring serves as the cornerstone of comprehensive data protection endeavors, facilitating the implementation of robust safeguards across the infrastructure. It offers visibility into data usage and enforces access controls, integrating seamlessly with encryption and access management tools to establish a multi-layered defense against data threats.
  • Improved Data Governance and Lifecycle Management: Enhancing data governance, DLP monitoring provides insights into data usage patterns and facilitates classifying sensitive information. This enables the implementation of tailored security controls and retention policies in alignment with regulatory mandates. Moreover, it supports effective data lifecycle management, ensuring adherence to organizational policies and legal obligations regarding data security, retention, and disposal.

Strac's DLP Monitoring Can Help You Find Sensitive Data 

Strac's DLP monitoring helps organizations effectively discover, classify, protect, and maintain visibility over their sensitive data. It enables mitigating the risks of data breaches, complying with regulations, and safeguarding critical information assets.

1. Data Discovery and Classification: Strac's DLP solutions can deeply scan and analyze data across endpoints, cloud storage, and SaaS applications to discover and classify sensitive information, such as PII, PHI, financial data, and intellectual property. This data discovery and classification capability is crucial for identifying high-risk data that needs to be protected.

2. Data Redaction: The platform can automatically redact or mask sensitive data elements, such as social security numbers, credit card details, and medical information, from emails, chat messages, documents, and other communication channels. This ensures that sensitive data is protected and not inadvertently shared or exposed.

Schedule a demo today!

3. Data Tokenization: Strac offers a tokenization solution that allows organizations to securely store and process sensitive data without directly handling raw information. This "zero data" architecture helps reduce the risk of data breaches and simplifies compliance with regulations like PCI DSS.

4. SaaS and Endpoint DLP Integration: Strac's DLP solutions integrate with a wide range of SaaS applications, including email, chat, customer support platforms, and cloud storage, as well as endpoint devices like Mac and Windows computers. This broad coverage ensures that sensitive data is protected across the entire digital ecosystem.

5. Advanced Capabilities and Improved Visibility: It also provides advanced capabilities, such as detecting and redacting sensitive data in text, LLM prompts, and documents of various formats. Additionally, the solution offers detailed reporting and auditing features, improving organizations' visibility into data access, usage, and potential incidents.

Schedule a demo today to ensure your organization remains secure from data breaches and cybersecurity threats with Strac's innovative DLP monitoring solutions.

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

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