What is Enterprise Data Loss Prevention and Why Does it Matter?

5min. read

An organization’s data is its most valuable asset. Modern enterprises are data-driven entities that rely on using the right nugget of information to make the most compelling decisions around strategy and growth.

At the most basic level, a company’s data consists of intellectual property (IP), financial information, and personal identifiable information (PII) of customers and employees. Confidential data is subject to leakage when a cybercriminal infiltrates a data source by invading an endpoint or server connected to the network. 

Cyberthreats that cause data leakage usually take place from phishing scams unleashed over email or from malware attacks mobilized via file downloads from the web. Another major reason data breaches occur is when an ill-intentioned insider from the organization ends up exfiltrating data for personal gain or disruption. Well-meaning yet negligent employees are also an important vehicle for data loss, as they unintentionally expose sensitive data by transferring it through company-unsanctioned SaaS applications, by oversharing it on cloud storage repositories, or by sending it to untrusted third parties.

According to a recent report1, the average total cost of a data breach in 2020 is $3.86 million USD. The cost varies by industry—with healthcare, education, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and communications being the most expensive. 

Data security breaches wreak havoc on organizations, and the fallout from a business data breach can be crippling. They not only cost your business, they cause irreparable reputational harm. The report suggests that it takes an average of 280 days to identify and contain a breach. Considering data security and privacy are integral to every organization, combating data leakage is an ongoing challenge that requires continuous vigilance by network security teams. It’s vital for organizations to adopt data loss prevention strategies to prioritize data security. 

What is Enterprise Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a security strategy that ensures sensitive or confidential information doesn’t leak outside of the corporate network in a way that is unsafe or non-compliant. 

Companies today collect massive amounts of data and store it in more places than ever—from public and private cloud environments and SaaS applications to campuses and branch office networks. Additionally, the widespread use of new cloud and mobile computing technologies enables employees to access a large variety of applications and data anytime, anywhere, and on any device. 

When formulating a data security strategy, organizations need visibility into all of their sensitive data—regardless of its location—across multiple clouds, network traffic, applications, and endpoints. They also need to exercise controlled access to corporate resources and figure out how data is being used and shared, as well as protect the data from threats and unintentional exposure. Meeting all of these requirements, however, can be difficult to do. Today, most enterprises face challenges in implementing effective data security because of: 

  1. A lack of granular visibility into what, how, and where their employees access and use their data, or transfer and share it with others. 

  2. Limited control over data stored in the cloud, which creates security gaps

  3. Inconsistent data security due to the varying security capabilities of public and private cloud providers, network security, and SaaS.

  4. The growing number of data breaches and insider threats caused by well-meaning employees, malicious insiders, and cyber criminals.

To successfully overcome these challenges, it’s crucial for companies to put a solid DLP strategy in place. An effective data security strategy requires discovering and securing data while it’s at rest, in use, and in motion. Monitoring the transmission of data both inside and outside of the organization and proactively detecting and stopping data leakage is another important requirement. 

To successfully meet these requirements, companies must:

  • Protect their company and data consistently across their in-house network, cloud, and mobile users.

  • Centralize their data loss prevention and security management efforts.

  • Discover, classify, monitor, and protect their data, as well as authenticate users and control who has access to specific applications and data at any given time. 

  • Clearly define and enforce role-based data access and usage policies.

  • Better oversee and manage third-party vendor security and compliance.

  • Ensure their data is being stored, accessed, and used in a way that complies with data protection regulations and data privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and others. This is especially important because any violations can result in a hefty fine and/or significant damage to a company’s reputation, or even criminal or civil penalties.

This is where an innovative enterprise DLP security solution comes in to fill in the gaps. For more information on how to create a robust enterprise data loss prevention strategy, visit: https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/enterprise-data-loss-prevention

1 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report