Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a software based solution which makes sure that end users can’t share sensitive or critical information. Either unintentionally or on purpose. DLP software works as a filter. How does it know to filter out certain information? Because it bases its decisions on the use of predetermined words in the content of a document -e.g. credit card numbers, passwords, inspection results etc.- or data classification -e.g. meta tags such as confidential, internal use, public use etc.
Cyber threats come in all shapes and sizes, both from within your own company and outside. And they can be honest mistakes or executed with malicious intent.
Malicious versus accidental insider threats
Threats can come from an ex co-worker that left the company on not such a friendly note and is seeking revenge, or the co-worker with financial issues who got offered money to harm your organisation’s data systems or IT infrastructure. These are both examples of malicious threats.
And who doesn’t have a co-worker who sometimes leaves her laptop unattended to help out another colleague without locking it? Or one who stores a file in his personal Dropbox with the intention to work on it from home? And yes, it might even happen to you: deleting a document -which you thought was not important -that later turned out to contain crucial information. These would fall into the category of accidental threats. But even if a threat is accidental it’s just as real as a malicious one. No matter what the underlying reason is, both put your organisation at risk.
Education and policies
A part of the solution lies in informing your employees. It’s important that they are made aware of the implications of sharing passwords and sensitive data. The other part is having the right policies and procedures in place, not only for your current employees, but also for employees who leave the organisation. Unfortunately, none of these measures are conclusive.
External threats typically come from hackers or viruses, malware and ransomware attacks. For this, companies already have firewalls in place, but as indispensable as they are, they don’t help to protect your organisation once malware managed to get in or against any other internal threats. DLP can for instance scan for phishing emails trying to pilfer sensitive information and active code that can activate, say a Trojan, upon opening an email or attachment.
DLP can prevent data leakage across all users by monitoring, detecting and blocking sensitive data while in use (working on a document), in motion (network traffic) and at rest (storage).
DLP gives you control over your intellectual property (e.g. copyrights and trademarks), competitive advantage (e.g. pricing) and your customer data. On top of that it provides you with insight in where the sensitive data are and the risks involved. All in all, even though it’s only one of the options at your disposal, DLP is an excellent starting point for GDPR compliance.
Adaptive Data Loss Prevention
Traditional DLP decides whether or not to block the sharing of sensitive data based on a basic ‘all or nothing’ decision. Adaptive DLP, however, is able to redact, block or encrypt information in real time, making sure that policies are met and only the acceptable level of critical information is leaving your organisation. Adaptive DLP strips out metadata (e.g. author, username and track changes) and personal data that you wouldn’t want to end up in the wrong hands, at the same time ensuring it’s not only safe, but also still workable for your employees.
Your company already has Managed File Transfer (MFT) and you are wondering if adaptive DLP and MFT can be fully integrated? The good news is: yes, they can be.
Do you feel that after reading this, Adaptive DLP could protect your data and employees and help you become GDPR compliant? Let’s discuss your options.
- Boldon James