Data Loss Prevention Product: A Shield to Safeguard Crucial Enterprise Data

By CIOReview | Monday, July 11, 2016
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Over the past few years, it is observed that enterprises dealing with colossal data are often faced with inevitable data loss. The problem involves sensitive internal data being lost, stolen or leaked to the outside world as a result of intended or unintended security breaches. Wide range of incidents such as the sale of customer account details to external parties, insecure use of USB sticks, laptops, mobile devices and backup tapes have cost enterprises millions of dollars, incurring a massive setback to their economy and reputation. Incorporating a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) product into the heart of workflow is always a wise initiative. It will allow your enterprise to identify, track and secure all the sensitive data from multiple points without affecting employee performance and productivity.

Focusing on a variety of factors, we present a detailed synopsis of the vital features of a DLP solution.

Market Analysis

One of the major factors associated with the growth of DLP market is the increasing focus of enterprises towards meeting the regulatory and compliance requirements for the stored data on private and public cloud platform. Furthermore, it can turn out to be difficult to understand the level of complexity involved in the aforementioned requirements.

Most DLP solutions fail to address the cloud governance and mobile security challenges as the data moves to insecure cloud services and are accessed by unauthorized devices. Recognizing that unmanaged migration of data to the cloud, IT teams are constantly focused on extending their data loss prevention policies and effectively reducing the overall exposure to risks. Significance of a fully functional DLP solution lies in the ability to stage a centralized management framework aimed at safeguarding confidential information. You have the option of selecting a full-suite of DLP solution that covers your storage infrastructure, network and endpoints.

So the question is “What kind of DLP will work best for my needs, and how do I find it?”

Initial understanding of crucial operations

When it comes to incorporating a DLP, understanding the entire process of data loss is the first step to initiate security measures. Evaluating the amount and type of data you have, value of your data, the location, and your obligations for protecting that data are the key viewpoints. Answering questions such as­—who is accessing your data? Where the data is going? How do you protect your data? And How to manage data leakage scenarios?—is crucial.

Content analysis

Aiming to analyze and tackle data loss, a DLP initiates the process of content analysis which captures the data and gains access into it. The engine then needs to parse the context and initiate further analysis. This process is known as file cracking, a technology used to read and analyze the content even if it lies multiple levels beneath the stack of data. The process is simple for a plain text email, but managing the binary files makes it equally complicated.

Adopting a logical approach towards data loss prevention

To effectively manage data loss risks, clear business objectives should be defined to implement the DLP program. These objectives should include prevention of intentional or unintentional disclosure of sensitive data at rest, in use or in motion to unauthorized parties, appropriate maintenance and enhanced security. It should also protect the brand reputation, consumer data, personal information and intellectual property.

Safeguarding the data in motion, at rest and in use

The main motive of DLP is to protect the data throughout its lifecycle in the storage, on network and on endpoints. DLP protects the data in three major areas:

• Data in Motion

Protection of data in motion refers to monitoring and filtering data traffic on the network, aiming to identify the content sent across various channels. This includes Perimeter security, Network monitoring, Internet access control, Data collection and exchange, Messaging (email, IM). 

Email integration is an essential component included in the process of network data protection. Since the email is stored and forwarded, you can utilize innovative functionalities such as quarantine, filtering and encryption integration. Most DLP products are embedded with an MTA (Mail Transport Agent), allowing users to add it as an effective tool in the email chain.

Filtering/Blocking and Proxy Integration is another feature preferred by all who deploy a DLP product. The feature enables the user to block bad traffic, allow good traffic, and make decisions using real-time content analysis.

Bridging is a process staging a system which houses two network cards performing content analysis in the middle. In case of a bad traffic, the bridge breaks the connection for that session.

Most DLP products also include proxy in the core of their operations. A proxy is protocol/application specific that places the traffic in queue before passing it on, to trigger deep analysis. It is another method of securing the data in an innovative manner. Gateway proxies are mostly incorporated for IM, HTTP and FTP protocols. Some of the DLP solutions include their own proxies, trying to combine with the existing gateway/proxy vendors.

The last method of filtering is TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) which allows you to establish a connection and monitor the traffic. In case you see a bad traffic, the feature offers you the option of injecting a TCP reset packet to end the connection.

• Data at Rest

Safeguarding the data at rest involves the process of scanning the storage and other content repositories to identify the location of sensitive data, also known as content discovery. For instance, you can use a DLP product to scan the servers and identify documents with confidential details. If the server is not authorized to handle that kind of data, the file can either be encrypted or removed. The wide ranges of functionalities include Host encryption, EndPoint security, Mobile device protection, Physical media control, Network/internet storage and Disposal.

• Data in Use

Data in use protection is facilitated by endpoint solutions that monitor data involving the user’s interaction. The feature has the ability to identify and transfer a sensitive document to a USB drive. Data-in-use tools can also detect the use of sensitive data in an unapproved application or even a simple copy/paste operation. The key tasks include export/save control, privileged user monitoring, data anonymization, access/usage monitoring, use of test data and data redaction.

Implementing a robust policy protocol

The policy creation and management is a crucial function that lies at the heart of a DLP. The policy serves a unique set of rules and regulations incorporated to detect social security numbers, credit card numbers and protected health information (PHI). The policy creating interface should be accessible to both non-technical and technical users, although technical skills will be required for drafting heavily customized policies. A complex policy may develop internal discrepancies or accidentally assign a wrong arrangement of data to the wrong channel.

A coherent DPL solution mastered with innovative functionalities facilitates efficient data protection. Looking at the current nature of security threats, it is always wise to gain a deep insight of a DLP product, before deploying it in the organization.