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Are Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions actually what you think?

Does Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions have anything to do with data loss?

Sometimes marketing experts lead the ordinary computer user (or even IT administrators) in the wrong direction such as with the term Data Loss Prevention (DLP). This term is usually seen on your computer screen when you search the internet for tools which may prevent you from losing data from your system.

But in contrast to what you might think, the term does not have anything to do with prevention of data loss. It is actually a term created by marketers that relates to software packages, which secure your system against data leaks and protection against unauthorised entry or use.

For about 10 years now, producers of IT security solutions and their marketeers promote one or many functions of their products as DLP solutions. With these solutions, data should be protected against unauthorised access and therefore protect against “data loss”. But what they really mean, is that they protect against data leaks.

What are DLP solutions designed for?

What these solutions are really designed for, is to prevent companies from data theft and/or industrial espionage. Companies today face a serious threat from all kinds of hacking, data theft, ransomware, and network related intruders.

The solutions DLP providers offer can either be software or hardware based. Since data security has become a serious necessity for companies there is a lot of demand for these solutions. Because DLP is not a fixed term, these solutions combine a miscellany of different IT security techniques and measures.

So called DLP suites can technically secure a company against all scenarios of data theft: Reading and writing on all possible storage media (USB-Sticks, HDDs, SSDs etc.) as well as data transfer via emails, file uploads or the internal network can be enabled or disabled. Additionally cut& paste or print screen function can be disabled, too. The main ingredients of a modern DLP solution are encryption of the data, monitoring of all incoming and outgoing (data) traffic and access control to the company network. However, some providers offer all-in-one solutions, while other suites consist of several modules, which can be bought separately.

DLP solutions today

In the last years, another technology has also found the way into DLP: The classification of data by content and by the user. Using these two methods the most sensitive data is captured by the DLP. Determining whole data groups as sensitive and adding more data by users makes sure that only a minority of data is not covered by this method. Based on this classification method the adequate security for each data set is then automatically activated by the DLP solution.

Last year, providers of DLP solutions integrated new safety features regarding cloud storage and online file storage services such as Microsoft Azure, Dropbox and more to help prevent data leaks.

Additionally, the more advanced Data Loss Prevention solutions come with indexing of data to identify sensitive data, real-time monitoring, advanced reporting, flexible data tagging and an easy to use management console. Identifying sensitive data is even more important in regards to the introduction of GDPR (European law on data security) and its tougher regulations in most European countries (and companies dealing with EU countries) and much higher fines.

Conclusion

What Data Loss Protection really does is aim to protect you from data leakages. Not save your data from loss in the case of any hardware or software failure. So when you search for specialists who can recover your lost data in search engines, it is best to use the term “Data Recovery” not “Data loss” and do not get confused with the term DLP!

In most cases, you will be successful in finding the right data recovery service provider for your special data loss problem and in many cases this will be Ontrack Data Recovery. For more than 20 years Ontrack has developed a broad range of tools and gained the necessary expertise to recover data from a variety of storage media: Hard disk drives, SSD and NAND-Flash-based drives, tape media, high-end-servers, and storage as well as smartphones, tablets, and many others.

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