July 17, 2023
 min read

NIST Data Loss Prevention

Learn how to implement DLP best practices for NIST CSF


  • The NIST CSF is a set of voluntary standards and guidelines to help organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risk.
  • Organizations of various sizes and sectors, including critical infrastructure sectors can implement it.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is an important aspect of the CSF, focusing on preventing unauthorized access or transfer of sensitive information.
  • DLP best practices for the CSF include identifying sensitive data, controlling access, encrypting data, implementing real-time detection, conducting regular audits, and providing employee training.
  • Organizations can learn about Strac DLP and Strac APIs for secure data storage and management to implement NIST CSF security practices.

What is NIST Cyber Security Framework?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) is a set of voluntary standards, guidelines, and best practices designed to help organizations manage and reduce cybersecurity risk better. The CSF provides a structure for organizations to describe their current cybersecurity posture, their target state for cybersecurity, identify and prioritize improvement opportunities, assess progress towards the target state, and foster communication amongst internal and external stakeholders about cybersecurity risk.

The CSF is structured around five core functions covering cybersecurity management's breadth: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. Each function is divided into categories and subcategories that provide a structured and detailed approach to cybersecurity.

Who Does NIST CSF Apply to, and How Does it Impact Data Loss Prevention?

While the NIST CSF was initially developed to enhance cybersecurity in critical infrastructure sectors like power plants and water treatment facilities, it is versatile enough to be implemented by organizations of various sizes, complexities, and sectors. NIST Data Loss Prevention is essential to the CSF, providing organizations with guidelines and best practices to prevent data loss and protect sensitive information. It offers a common language that can be used to communicate and manage cybersecurity risk both internally and with external partners.

From multinational corporations to small-and-medium-sized businesses, to government agencies and nonprofit organizations, any entity that has a need to manage cybersecurity risk can use the NIST CSF. It benefits organizations that are part of the critical infrastructure sector, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security.

Where Does Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Apply within the NIST CSF Framework?

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is an approach to cybersecurity that focuses on preventing the unauthorized access or transfer of sensitive information out of an organization's network. To prevent any unauthorized access or transfer sensitive data, one needs to know where the sensitive data is.

NIST CSF Identify Function: Incorporating Data Loss Prevention

The Identify function assists in developing an organizational understanding of managing cybersecurity risk to systems, assets, data, and capabilities. The best practice for implementing the Identify function:

a. Asset Management: Catalogue all hardware and software assets within the organization. Having a clear inventory makes it easier to manage and secure these assets.

Strac's Sensitive Data Discovery helps businesses understand where all sensitive data is present and how much sensitive data exposure a business has. This Data Disovery helps businesses prioritize which SaaS apps, Cloud services, or on-premise technology must be protected.

NIST CSF Protect Function: Safeguarding Data with DLP Measures

Specifically, the "Protect" function of the CSF includes a category called "Data Security" that involves implementing appropriate safeguards to ensure the delivery of critical infrastructure services. This may include measures to control access to systems and data, protect information in transit and at rest, and manage data security risk through protective technology. As such, DLP practices can play a key role in achieving the outcomes identified in this section of the CSF.

Essential DLP Best Practices for NIST CSF Implementation

Implementing DLP best practices within the context of the NIST CSF involves aligning DLP strategies and tactics with the relevant aspects of the CSF, particularly within the Protect and Detect functions. Here are some best practices:

  1. Identification of sensitive data: Before you can protect data, you need to know where it is. This involves creating a data inventory, classifying data based on sensitivity, and tagging it accordingly.
Strac Sensitive Data Discovery - NIST CSF Identify Function
  1. Control access to sensitive data: Implement measures to restrict who can access sensitive data and under what circumstances. This could include policies like least privilege access, strong authentication methods, and robust access control lists.
  2. Encrypt sensitive data: Encryption should be used to protect sensitive data both at rest and in transit. This ensures that even if data is accessed or intercepted, it remains unintelligible to unauthorized users.

Strac Tokenization API: Securely Store Sensitive Data in Strac Vault
  1. ‎Learn about Strac APIs here: https://docs.strac.io. Strac APIs will help you to securely store sensitive data, upload sensitive documents, redact sensitive text or documents, send information to third party partners without touching sensitive data, and more.
  2. Implement real-time detection and alerting mechanisms: Your DLP solution should be able to identify potential data breaches or policy violations in real-time and alert the relevant personnel. This will allow you to respond to potential issues promptly and limit damage.
Strac DLP Real-Time Detection & Alerting
  1. Regular audits and updates: Regularly audit your DLP controls to ensure they are still fit for purpose and update them as necessary. Cyber threats are continually evolving, and so too should your defenses.
  2. Employee training and awareness: Users can be a weak link in your security, so it's important to provide regular training and awareness sessions to ensure they understand the importance of data security and how to follow best practices.

Remember, while implementing DLP strategies can significantly enhance an organization's cybersecurity posture, it should be part of a broader risk management approach, like that outlined in the NIST CSF.

How to Get Started with NIST Data Loss Prevention

To implement best security practices of NIST CSF, learn about Strac DLP (Data Loss Prevention) and Strac APIs to securely store, tokenize, redact, send sensitive data without touching it. Book a demo with us here.

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

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