What is DLP and Why is it Lackluster?
SaaS Security

What is DLP and Why is it Lackluster?

What is Data Loss Prevention (DLP)?

Data loss prevention (DLP), is often defined as technologies which perform both content inspection and contextual analysis of data sent via messaging applications such as email and instant messaging, in motion over the network, in use on a managed endpoint device, and at rest in on-premises file servers or in cloud applications and cloud storage.

A lot of traditional approaches to DLP create too many false positives, resulting in alert fatigue for security operations teams. Organizations will benefit from a more targeted, more actionable response – through the business context that is collected and tracked – in preventing the loss of sensitive data. By focusing on the applications that foster collaboration and productivity, organizations will drive the business forward in a secure way; closing the gap on sensitive data from being exposed to unauthorized parties and ultimately exfiltrated. 

Modernizing DLP for Today’s Needs

As mentioned above, while DLP technologies are in the twilight of their career, the need for controls to prevent data loss are still very much a high priority. Technology moves fast. There is now a need to modernize the approach to both of these solutions in order to be able to address the use cases modern businesses are challenged with.

How to deploy DLP? 

DLP technology can be deployed in on-premises data centers or in the cloud, and it typically includes data encryption, data masking, and data tokenization capabilities. While DLP is often used interchangeably with data security, they are not the same thing. Data security is a broad term that covers all data protection strategies, while DLP specifically refers to the proactive prevention of data loss. 

Most organizations have some form of data loss prevention in place, but as data breaches become more sophisticated, IT departments are struggling to keep up. In response, vendors have started to offer cloud-based DLP solutions that can be quickly deployed and configured without the need for on-premises hardware or software. These solutions are particularly attractive to small and medium-sized businesses that do not have the resources to invest in complex data security infrastructure. 

 The Benefits and Limitations of Data Loss Prevention

Before selecting a cloud-based DLP solution, it is important to understand the benefits and limitations of this type of technology. One of the main benefits of cloud-based DLP is its ability to scale quickly and easily to meet changing business needs. Additionally, cloud-based DLP solutions are typically more cost-effective than on-premises solutions because they do not require upfront capital investment or ongoing maintenance costs. 

The primary limitation of cloud-based DLP is its reliance on internet connectivity. If an organization's internet connection is disrupted, so too is its ability to protect data from loss or theft. Additionally, because cloud-based DLP solutions are hosted off-site, organizations may have less control over their data security policies and procedures. 

Despite these limitations, cloud-based DLP solutions offer a number of advantages that make them a compelling option for organizations looking to improve their data security posture. When selecting a solution, organizations should consider their specific needs and requirements in order to find the best fit for their environment.

The Pillars for a Modern Approach to DLP 

Incident Response

A completely event-driven solution that leverages metadata to help better understand risk across the SaaS environment is the foundation for a next-gen DLP. You should be able to define enterprise data usage policies, report on policy violations, and implement secure data access controls that automatically prevent data exfiltration. You need to be able to report on internal and external user activity paired with anomaly-detection technology that way Security teams can quickly identify and respond to threats.

Discover

Implementing technologies such as natural-language processing (NLP) to scan files stored in cloud applications and analyze the text within to extract key phrases, entities and sentiment for classification. Being able to control who has access to certain data, redact sensitive information, and use a policy engine to create dynamic DLP policies that help remediate threats and satisfy stringent compliance and regulatory requirements.

Monitor Insider Risks and Behavior

Every interaction within your SaaS applications should be tracked and monitored, and a baseline of “normal” activity should be established for each individual user. This provides you the context to distinguish between “trusted” business activities and those that pose a risk of data loss, and any threat indicators are automatically detected and blocked. All data access anomalies that are detected should be redirected into SIEM/SOAR technologies and correlated with other detections for a more holistic view of security events.

Download our Remediation Guide to learn more about how DoControl extends DLP to the SaaS estate.

Detecting and Preventing Data Loss

Access to data should be provided and revoked on-demand. The principle of least privilege should be enforced beyond the identity layer, to better protect sensitive data and files within the SaaS estate. Policies need to be flexible, fully customizable, and triggered by the hundreds of various SaaS event types. This will help enforce consistent and granular data access controls that address an unlimited number of DLP use cases. Security teams need to be able to apply specific policies to groups, domains, and individuals based on risk. 

DoControl's Approach to DLP

DoControl’s approach to DLP provides granular access controls that detect and prevent the loss, leakage and misuse of sensitive data within business-critical SaaS applications. Organizations pursuing a cloud-first strategy can now consistently secure access to sensitive files and data, both at rest and in motion, throughout the disparate applications being utilized by the business. Data that contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), and Payment Card Industry (PCI) information is automatically scanned throughout all structured, semi-structured and unstructured data within the SaaS application estate. All sensitive data is identified, and the risk of data exfiltration or leakage is remediated automatically through the combination of rich end-user behavioral analytics and dynamic DLP policy enforcement. DoControl Cloud DLP provides security teams with the foundational components, both technology and process, to create effective DLP programs within SaaS environments. Strengthen your DLP program today by partnering with DoControl.

Conclusion

DLP is evolving beyond the traditional perimeter-based security model and focusing on data loss prevention in motion. To be successful, organizations should focus on data loss prevention through the lens of business context. This means targeting specific applications that foster collaboration and productivity rather than blanket approaches that create too many false positives and result in alert fatigue for security operations teams. Are you looking to deploy a DLP solution? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your sensitive data.

Glossary

Data Loss Prevention (DLP): DLP tools and processes aim to prevent sensitive data from becoming lost, misused, or accessed by unauthorized users. DLP solutions aim to proactively detect data breaches and/or data ex-filtration attempts, and respond by monitoring user activities and blocking sensitive data – both in use, in motion, and at rest.

Software as a Service (SaaS) Governance: SaaS governance solutions are typically a combination of preventative and reactive measures to enable secure access to business-critical applications and data. SaaS governance tools should enforce the principle of least privilege at the SaaS application and data layer to secure sensitive files.

What are some of the common deployment methods for DLP solutions? What are some of the shortcomings? DLP is powerful technology, and if deployed improperly can impact key components of your communications. Begin by enabling monitoring only. Don't start out with blocking or auto-encrypting data until you are truly ready and understand the implications of getting any of this wrong. Expect help desk calls, and prepare your support teams so they are able to respond to them effectively. Determine what you will do when you learn of a given policy violation and gain alignment with stakeholders (Legal, HR, IT) for each scenario that is likely to occur.

Ensure that you document everything related to the architecture and deployment of DLP. Lastly, share reports and metrics with leadership that illustrate the positive impact DLP is having on your ability to protect sensitive information. They will want to know how effectively their organization's money and resources have been spent.

How does DLP work in Software as a Service (SaaS) environments? Most traditional DLP solutions do not effectively extend into SaaS/cloud environments, which is why organizations lok to CASB tools to better enforce security and compliance policies into the cloud.

Did you know that, on average, companies that allow external sharing of SaaS data assets have data that has been exposed to 42 4th-party domains?
Did you know that, on average, companies that allow external sharing of SaaS data assets have data that has been exposed to 42 4th-party domains?

This stat comes from the industry report we published earlier this year: The Immense Risk of Unmanaged SaaS Data Access. It’s a great read. We recommend you check it out.

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