What is Data Loss Prevention?


The loss of sensitive or valuable data is something any organization, regardless of size, industry, or geography, must avoid. Data privacy and data protection laws such as CCPA, GDPR, HIPAA or SOX, among others, require organizations to maintain secure environments and always apply the appropriate level of protection to data, no matter where it is located or how it is shared. Failure to keep data secure can result in a fine for non-compliance, which negatively impacts an organization’s bottom line and, when the data breach makes headline news, its brand reputation too.

When you consider the large volumes and different types of data an organization generates, stores, sends, and receives daily, and the complexity of today’s hybrid IT environments, the probability of a data breach is very high. Add to this the many different threats to data, and data loss prevention becomes even more of a challenge. Sensitive or valuable data can be leaked accidentally or targeted by malicious actors looking to exfiltrate it for monetary gain. Threats can come from within the organization (the insider threat) or from the outside in the form of ransomware and other cyber-attacks.

To avoid data leakage or data exfiltration, organizations apply Data Loss Prevention (DLP) practices and tools to safeguard their business-critical data. DLP focuses on minimizing the risk to the organization by detecting and preventing unauthorized disclosure before the data breach occurs.

The benefits of Data Loss Prevention

Best Practices for Implementing DLP


Whether it’s to protect sensitive data or safeguard intellectual property, putting DLP best practices in place helps organizations maintain visibility and control of their data. People, processes, and technology all play a key role in how data loss prevention activities are applied across the organization.

To minimize the risk of a data breach, everyone – from board members down to individual employees – has a responsibility to protect data within an organization. With clearly defined processes in place, data is protected while in use, in motion and at rest. While DLP software solutions monitor and consistently enforce policies across the network, at endpoints, and in the cloud.

How do DLP Software Solutions Work?


When looking at how to prevent data loss, technology is often the last line of defense. Its role is to apply the organization’s data security policies consistently over all egress points, identify possible violations, and take the appropriate remedial actions. Traditional DLP solutions are inflexible in the way they operate, making them difficult to configure and implement. Typically, the solutions “stop and block” any action deemed to have risk implications, often incorrectly mistaking legitimate daily actions as an exfiltration or data loss threat. This generates large numbers of “false positives” that can easily overwhelm the IT security staff who need to action the alerts and frustrate users who can’t work productively.

How does Clearswift DLP Differ from Other Solutions?


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More than Stop and Block


The DLP solution from Clearswift provides much more than just stop and block functionality. It minimizes the risk of accidental data loss, data exfiltration, and cyber-attacks, to keep sensitive and valuable data safe, while reducing impact on day-to-day operations. It does this by intelligently inspecting structured and unstructured data within email messages, files transferred to and from the web or cloud, and at endpoints, making sure the appropriate security policy is always automatically applied.

The solution understands both content and context and adapts its behavior accordingly. Policies can be set so that certain individuals, teams, or departments have more flexibility than others. For example:

  • The CEO is authorized to send sensitive data to the CFO, so the data is automatically encrypted to protect it while in motion.
  • When the HR team sends sensitive data to an unknown third party, the solution recognizes that this could be an unauthorized transfer. But rather than block the communication, it automatically removes the sensitive data from the message, allowing a safe version to continue unhindered.
  • The user is alerted to the fact that a policy violation occurred, but business is not interrupted. This significantly reduces the numbers of false positives that occur and removes any risk.

This automated process is made possible by a unique technology called adaptive redaction.

What is Adaptive Redaction?


Adaptive Redaction technology sets Clearwift apart from other vendors. It occurs during the content inspection process, when in real time, a Deep Content Inspection engine deconstructs files down to their constituent parts. If it identifies sensitive or valuable information or any cyber threats, it automatically removes, deletes, or sanitizes the files as per the rules set by the organization. The solution then reconstructs the files, allowing them to continue without delay. The inspection capability is not limited by zip/encryption, file size, analysis timing delays or multiple embedded document layers.

The three main options for Adaptive Redaction

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To keep organizations compliant, sensitive and valuable data is automatically removed from messages and documents before they are transferred, sent, or received. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality extracts text from image-based files.

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To prevent data harvesting, hidden metadata such as comments and revision history is automatically removed from documents, along with author, user, and server names. Anti-steganography technology wipes images clean too.

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To stop ransomware and other Advanced Persistent Threats from infecting the network, files are sanitized of active malicious content such as embedded macros and scripts, that would trigger when a document is opened.

Building an Effective Data Loss Prevention Strategy


There are steps organizations can take to build and implement an effective DLP strategy. First, identify the types of data that need protecting. This might be data based on regulation (GDPR, HIPAA), personal data (PII or PCI), or other valuable, business-critical data. Consider whether data needs to be labelled according to its classification, where it is stored (on-premise or in the cloud), how it is shared (email, web or managed file transfer) and who needs access to it. These considerations help determine which DLP solution is right for your organization.

Next, design policies that keep the data secure. In monitor mode, the Clearswift solution allows organizations to measure the effectiveness of DLP policies before they are implemented, refined, and finally deployed. Default policies configured for industry regulations and support for SIEM solutions, make deployment and compliance a quick and easy process. Finally, even with risks minimized, it is still important to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a data breach.

Enhancing Data Loss Prevention in Office 365

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is fast becoming the collaboration tool of choice for many corporations. Leveraging the cloud, it allows professionals to create and communicate with ease. Microsoft 365 offers multiple tiers of capability, including provisions for data loss prevention – but are these features comprehensive enough to secure data to satisfy the strictest regulatory requirements?

Adaptive DLP from Clearswift working alongside Microsoft 365 deployments, makes the most of the cloud-centric infrastructure, but with zero compromise on security. Benefit from greater DLP controls, protection from incoming cyber threats, and more flexibility when implementing policies. Read our guide to find out how the two solutions integrate to enable advanced threat and data protection in the cloud.

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Using DLP Solutions Alongside Data Classification and MFT

Data loss prevention

To provide seamless protection for data from the time it is created until the time it reaches its destination, DLP solutions can be deployed alongside data classification tools and software for managed file transfers (MFT).

  • During the content inspection process, adaptive DLP recognizes the different data classification labels and automatically enforces the appropriate policy.
  • It also ensures data classification labelling remains in place as the data moves throughout the network or leaves the organization.
  • Files being sent or received securely through managed transfer benefit from an additional layer of data loss prevention and protection from cybersecurity threats

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Adaptive DLP Solutions from Clearswift

Covering data in use, in motion and at rest, the Clearswift solutions have in-built DLP capabilities to help secure and protect structured and unstructured data. This integrated DLP functionality allows us to offer protection against unwanted data loss and acquisition through all our Secure Email and Web Gateway and Endpoint products.  

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