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Updated: Oct 25, 2023   |   Fergal Glynn

5 data loss prevention techniques for better cloud security

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A majority of businesses have embraced the cloud for all or part of their computing environment, with the percentage of enterprise data stored in the cloud increasing to 60% in 2022. Companies need to implement effective protective measures to keep this data secure.

A data loss prevention (DLP) solution (or DLP as a service, like that available from Next DLP) is an essential components of a comprehensive strategy to protect sensitive and high-value information. In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of cloud DLP and the specific techniques that provide for optimal security of data in the cloud.

The benefits of cloud DLP 

Cloud DLP offers companies operating in the cloud multiple benefits that help them protect their valuable data resources. These benefits include:

  • Integrating with cloud service providers (CSPs) to locate and encrypt sensitive data before files are shared in the cloud
  • Discovering sensitive and high-risk data stored in the cloud by continuously auditing uploaded files and data already in storage
  • Applying controls automatically to enforce data handling policies
  • Alerting administrators when activities put data at risk
  • Providing the visibility and control over data resources necessary to comply with data security and privacy regulations

DLP techniques required for enhanced cloud security

Effective data loss prevention requires the inclusion of certain activities and techniques. The following are some of the most important components of a cloud DLP solution.

The creation of a data handling policy

An organization’s data handling policy is the foundation of a data loss prevention solution. The first step is determining how data will be classified throughout the enterprise. At a minimum, data should be grouped into one of three categories:

  • High-risk data includes sensitive information that is subject to regulatory standards and can result in compliance issues if misused. It also encompasses data whose loss or disclosure would cause extensive damage to the organization.
  • Medium-risk data also needs to be protected from disclosure and misuse, though it would not cause the same level of harm if disclosed as high-risk information.
  • Low-risk or public data does not need special handling. It can be used freely within the organization and disclosed without causing the company any damage.

A data handling policy enables a company to prioritize data elements so they get the protection they deserve. For instance, it is not necessary to spend the processing resources to encrypt low-risk data that poses no danger to the organization if disclosed. These resources are better spent addressing a company’s high-risk and sensitive data.

Dynamic data classification

The volume and speed with which data is ingested make it impossible to effectively classify it with manual procedures. Data must be classified on the fly as it is created or brought into the computing environment. This practice will ensure that all data is classified so it can be handled properly.

Understanding when data is at risk

Companies must identify situations that expose sensitive data to risk. Cloud storage is accessible from any location by anyone with authorization, making it harder to control than data contained in an on-premises data center. Cybercriminals may target sensitive data and the privileged users who can access it using techniques such as social engineering or phishing. Additional precautions should therefore be implemented to protect this data and ensure it is not available to unauthorized users.

Monitor and enforce policies on data in motion

A cloud DLP solution should have the ability to monitor data movement and enforce the appropriate handling policies. This includes performing activities such as:

  • Encrypting high-risk data before allowing it to be transferred
  • Blocking unauthorized users from accessing data resources
  • Alerting administrators when data is misused so they can take the appropriate action to address the situation
  • Allowing low-risk data to be used freely and shared inside and outside the organization

Employee training

An effective cloud DLP solution should also provide situational employee training that addresses specific user actions and activities. Rather than simply blocking access to a file, the tool should educate the user on why they cannot use that data element or take that action. Data loss prevention is more efficient when everyone in the organization understands their role and the limits of their privileges.

Next DLP's modern solution for cloud DLP

Next DLP’s Reveal product implements the techniques discussed above to provide businesses with an effective method of protecting their valuable information in the cloud. It’s easy to implement and use and operates via lightweight agents installed on Windows, Linux, and macOS endpoints.

Reveal provides full visibility into cloud data resources, so you’re always in control of your sensitive information. It also employs advanced techniques to monitor data in motion to prevent accidental data leaks, includes configurable data handling policy templates, and furnishes timely incident-based training when the policy is violated. Get in touch with the Next DLP team or book a demo today to learn how our innovative and modern cloud DLP solution can protect your data in the cloud. 


See how Next protects your employees and prevents data loss