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Updated: Apr 20, 2023   |   Fergal Glynn

DLP monitoring: What is it, and why is it important?

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DLP monitoring: What is it, and why is it important?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a valuable tool used to detect and prevent data breaches or misuse of sensitive information by unauthorized entities. DLP is an important component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. It is focused on protecting an organization’s high-risk data and ensuring compliance with regulatory data security and privacy regulations. DLP monitoring is the process of continuously scanning and maintaining visibility into activities occurring on endpoints, in the cloud, and in corporate networks to identify risky and suspicious behaviors before data loss occurs. 

What is DLP monitoring?  

DLP monitoring is the continuous scanning of data at rest, in motion, and in use performed by DLP software solutions to detect risky behavior and unauthorized access. DLP solutions monitor endpoint activities, corporate networks, and data in the cloud.  

Monitoring data movement is necessary to efficiently enforce a data handling policy. This would not be the case if all data was stored statically and only accessed by an authorized subset of users. Because information today is continuously being transmitted, transferred, or processed, its movement must be monitored to ensure no policy violations are occurring.

What is a data handling policy?

A company’s data is protected by enforcing organizationally defined rules, known as data handling policies, that regulate how information is used by various internal and external entities. Depending on the type of DLP tool, data is pre-classified or dynamically classified based on its sensitivity or the risk its loss would inflict on the company. Classification allows specific data resources to be protected effectively. For instance, a data handling policy can require high-risk data to be encrypted before being transmitted in emails.

Once data is classified, a DLP solution is designed to take preventative measures that remediate accidental or deliberate policy violations. In some cases, it may automatically encrypt information that requires protection before allowing it to be transmitted. The DLP tool may also take other actions, such as restricting users from accessing particular data resources. 

However, in order to take these preventative measures, a DLP solution must recognize risky behavior, unauthorized access, or suspicious activity. That’s the purpose of DLP monitoring.  

Examples of DLP monitoring

The following are some examples of DLP monitoring in action that emphasize its importance in protecting an organization’s valuable data.

  • Someone inside the organization is attempting to print the contents of sensitive files containing customers’ personally identifiable information (PII). This is not only a violation of the data handling policy but also a violation of regulatory standards. DLP monitoring identifies the potential violation, and the tool denies permission to print the documents, enforcing company policy and maintaining regulatory compliance.

  • A user accesses low-risk data and downloads it to their company laptop. The enterprise data handling policy does not restrict how this information can be used, so the user is free to do what they wish with it. They end up sharing it with other users via a mass email.

  • New information is ingested into the infrastructure and classified by the data handling policy and DLP tool as high-risk. System admins who lack proper authorization want to move the data to cloud storage where it can be more easily accessed by users throughout the organization. DLP monitoring will identify unauthorized users and the attempt to move sensitive data to non-approved storage. Permission to move the data is denied by the DLP solution.

Intelligent DLP monitoring differentiates between accepted usage and policy violations to ensure data is always used appropriately by authorized personnel or applications.

Handling DLP policy violations

When DLP policy violations are discovered, an effective tool should perform two complementary activities to protect company data.

The first activity is to enforce the DLP policy by taking appropriate actions based on the specific data resource and the user involved in causing the violation. Data may be encrypted automatically to keep it secure before allowing it to be transmitted over a public network. Users may be unable to print sensitive data except on secure company-owned equipment. A user without the required privileges will be restricted from accessing high-risk data except through approved applications.

In addition to taking the necessary actions to protect enterprise data, a comprehensive DLP solution should educate users regarding DLP policy violations. Instead of simply restricting access to a file or preventing data sharing, the tool should inform the user why these actions are being taken. Continuous employee education regarding the company’s data handling policy results in the more appropriate use of information and reduces the instances of violations that may put the enterprise at risk.

The benefits of a modern DLP solution

Modern DLP solutions eliminate the data pre-classification procedures that were necessary with legacy tools. Next DLP offers users a tool that classifies data dynamically as it is ingested or created and monitors its movement throughout the enterprise infrastructure. Our Reveal product is a comprehensive DLP solution that prevents data loss, mitigates risks, and educates employees proactively to continuously cultivate a security-first culture. 

Reveal is a cloud-based solution that’s easy to install and use and delivers results right out of the box. It employs lightweight agents on Windows, macOS, and Linux endpoints that won’t impact performance. Reveal enforces DLP policies for both online and offline users, keeping data secure no matter where it’s used by a mobile workforce.

Learn how Reveal can protect your company’s sensitive data and intellectual property.

Contact us today or book a demo to learn how our modern approach to data loss prevention can help you keep your company’s data secure.


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