The term Data Loss Prevention covers strategies and hardware- or software-based solutions to protect against the unintentional outflow of data. DLP is used, for example, to monitor and control data transactions on removable media, in networks, via e-mail, in cloud applications, on mobile devices, and in other areas.
What is DLP (Data Loss Prevention)?
The abbreviation DLP stands for Data Loss Prevention. Alternative terms are Data Leakage Prevention or Data Leak Prevention. The use of the terms Data Loss Prevention and Data Leakage Prevention usually takes place synonymously, although strictly speaking there are subtle differences.
DLP includes strategies and hardware- or software-based solutions that prevent the unintentional leakage of data. The goal of Data Loss Prevention is to protect against the loss of sensitive or confidential data. Techniques, devices, and software are used that monitor, control, and log data transactions from various areas such as networks, removable media, e-mail, cloud applications, or mobile devices. Critical transactions are blocked or alerts are issued.
DLP solutions also focus on employees, who can contribute to the leakage of sensitive corporate data through carelessness, human error, or willfulness. It should be noted that DLP solutions are designed to monitor employee behavior. Legal regulations such as the works council’s right of co-determination must therefore be observed. Well-known providers of DLP solutions include Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, RSA, HP, and others.
Areas of application for DLP
Since data is stored and exchanged in many different ways in modern companies, DLP solutions must support a wide variety of application areas. Data transactions in these areas need to be monitored:
- Removable media such as USB sticks, memory cards, or external hard drives
- Network drives
- Cloud applications
- Mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets
- Multifunction printers
Data loss prevention – functions and technical implementation
Basically, the functions of data loss prevention can be divided into the protection of sensitive data and the central logging of all data transactions. Typical functions are for example:
- Monitoring of applications
- Detection of dangerous applications
- Monitoring of data transactions
- Enforcement of data exchange policies
- Differentiation between critical and non-critical data
- Blocking the transfer of sensitive data
- Encryption of data
- Control of access rights
- Central recording of data movements
- Alerting in case of critical actions
- User information in case of confidential data
To accomplish all of these tasks, DLP solutions include a collection of diverse techniques. Scanning methods, data analysis, data classification, policy management, rights management, hardware detection, and much more are used.
In most cases, the products consist of hardware- and software-based technologies for controlling data traffic. Often, software agents are installed on the end devices, which monitor the computer locally and are managed by central management.
Effective data loss prevention creates numerous benefits for businesses and organizations. These include:
- Prevention of corporate espionage
- Data loss prevention
- Compliance with legal requirements for data protection and handling of confidential or personal data
- Greater control and transparency over data movements
- Strengthening the competence and awareness of employees in handling sensitive data