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What is Data Loss Prevention?

3 minute read
Data loss prevention (DLP) ensures that a user can never transmit sensitive information beyond a company's networks. This term describes software tools used in network administration to manage the transfer of information between computers.
By, Jonathan Mack

DLP software is used to protect confidential information and how it's used and distributed within a company. As an example, if a company employee attempt to upload an email to another company's server outside of its corporate domain, they may be denied access.

There are three types of data loss prevention:

  • Network DLP
  • Cloud DLP
  • Endpoint DLP
  • Email DLP

Organisations are increasingly adopting DLP because of rigorous data privacy laws and insider threats - which are also becoming more popular. In addition to protecting and monitoring specific activities, some DLP solutions can also filter data streams to protect data.

Why is DLP important?

According to IBM, data breaches cost on average around £2.7 million, but the cost could also have a huge impact on future revenues. A company is targeted by cyber-attacks every 11 seconds, which means DLP has become essential.

DLP solutions detect a wide range of threats and although you can't eliminate 100% of the risk associated with data breaches, DLP can significantly reduce the risk.

DLP best practices

To successfully implement data loss prevention, there are a few factors to consider.

Data prioritisation

Not all data is completely critical. Organisations all have their own definition of critical data and the first step in deciding what data should be prioritised is to decide where it would cause the most problems if data were to be stolen.

Your DLP solution should start with the most sensitive and valuable data.

Data classification and risk

Associate a data classification with its source application or the user who created it. Apply classification tags to the data to allow your organisation to track their usage.

Inspecting content is also very useful. It examines data closely to identify regular expressions, for e.g. credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, for keywords like 'confidential'.

Understanding when data is at risk is equally important. When data is shared between partners, customers, or devices, it's usually most at risk when it's in use on endpoints.

An example would be attaching data to an email or moving it to a removable device.

Monitor data in motion

It's important to understand how data is used and how to identify specific behaviour that would put important data at risk.

Organisations need to constantly monitor data in motion to know how it's used and determine if there are any issues that should be addressed.

Train employees

User training can help reduce the possibility of accidental data exposure or data loss. Employees don't always realise how their actions can put a company's data at risk and they will do better when educated on how to properly handle and protect sensitive data.

Advanced DLP solutions can include prompts to users to inform them that certain actions may violate company policy or increase the risk of data loss.

Why organisations need DLP

Modern DLP solutions can help to solve many of our modern compliance and cyber security challenges. Instead of administrators constantly looking for the latest threats to find a solution and remedy any losses, a DLP can:

  • Help your company with regulatory compliance such as HIPAA, GDPR, and more.
  • Protect intellectual property and prevent hackers from stealing company secrets.
  • Tracking data to help your organisation understand how data is stored and used.

Benefits of data loss prevention

Enhanced data loss prevention policies with data loss protection techniques provide an easy way to track usage data and locations.

DLP can help prevent unauthorised disclosure or the exploitation of personal information or other sensitive data by employees. All internal employee activity is monitored in a way to prevent risky or undesirable activities from being performed.

Data loss prevention in an enterprise can also help protect against loss of reputation or revenues, while data loss is also protected by legal proceedings.


When it comes to protecting your company's data, you can benefit from working with an experienced team like Swiftcomm. We have extensive experience in preventing data breaches as well as managing risk for UK organisations.

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