10 Reasons Why Your Organization Needs Data Loss Prevention

7 minute read

Security breaches rocked 2015. Sensitive data from high-profile organizations ranging from banks and multinational conglomerates to illicit online dating services fell into the hands of hackers, affecting millions of customers and employees.  It was a terrible year for data privacy and security, and a wake-up call for chief technology officers and corporate legal departments everywhere.

Data volume has been growing exponentially, dramatically increasing opportunities for theft and accidental disclosure of sensitive information. In the past, the amount of data doubled every four years. According to technology research firm IDC, it now doubles every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe — the data we create and copy annually — will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes. These facts, along with increases in the portability of data, employee mobility and penalties for failing to comply with strict data protection regulations raise the question: “What more can organizations do to protect themselves and their stakeholders?” An integral part of the answer may be 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.

Learn the 10 essential steps to securing your cloud dataGet your guide to creating and executing a successful cloud strategy.

In the wake of recent security events, interest in the technology has exploded. In its “Forecast Overview: Information Security, Worldwide, 3Q15 Update” report, Gartner predicted that DLP will be among the fastest-growing security segments through 2019, with a combined annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent.

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 aren’t very familiar with content-aware technologies, and don’t fully understand the business case for DLP initiatives. With this context in mind, we have outlined 10 reasons your organization needs data loss prevention.

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, 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. 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. DLP also 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 workstation 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 PWC’s 2015 Global State of Information Security Survey, organizations reported 2014 financial losses stemming from security incidents that were 93 percent higher than 2013. In fact, the number of global incidents is growing faster than the number of global smartphone users and the global GDP combined! 

4. You are concerned about your next audit and want to maintain compliance with complex regulations.

More than 50 countries have enacted data protection laws that require organizations in both the public and private sectors to safeguard sensitive information. Penalties for noncompliance with strict privacy regulations and breach notification laws continue to grow. Requirements reach beyond the simple provision of written policies to prove compliance. 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 proprietary information against security threats caused by enhanced employee mobility and new communication channels.

Many employees are turning to social networking, instant messaging and other Web 2.0 applications to keep up with consumer trends. DLP helps to prevent the accidental exposure of confidential information across these unsecure lines of communication while at the same time keeping them open for appropriate uses. With the proliferation of mobile devices and employees working remotely, corporate data increasingly resides both in and outside of the organization. Wherever data lives in transit on the network, at rest in storage, or in use on a laptop or smartphone, 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 software 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.

Large amounts of data are being moved to applications in the cloud—an environment in which it is not apparent where data will be physically stored and processed. Protecting sensitive information in virtual and cloud models is critical. DLP recognizes confidential data and automates its encryption at rest, in motion and in use, preventing its transmission to third-party infrastructures.

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—whether on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops, 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. Whether it’s a targeted attack or an inadvertent mistake, confidential data loss can diminish a company’s brand, reduce shareholder value, and irreparably damage the company’s reputation. DLP facilitates the protection of valuable trade secrets and other vital intelligence, and helps to prevent the negative publicity and loss of customers that inevitably follow data breaches.

Data Loss Prevention Should Not Be An Afterthought

If you are surprised by how many of these 10 reasons apply to your business, you are not alone. Many organizations don’t fully understand the benefits DLP offers. Developing a comprehensive data loss prevention strategy shouldn’t be an afterthought. When properly deployed, DLP can transform sensitive data into an operational asset, and help to prevent your organization from making the wrong kind of headlines.

Find out how to secure your cloud dataGet your guide to building a secure cloud strategy.

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