Data Loss Prevention: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Last updated on May 9, 2021

If you’re reading this article, then chances are that you are concerned about your data, your company’s data or simply want to know what all the fuss is about when it comes to data loss prevention. In this article, we will look at data loss prevention in more detail, outline why it’s important to know everything, as well as looking into how a DLP solution works and how you can benefit from it. Whether you are storing personal information or holding private customer details, you should be using a data loss protection service.

But firstly, let’s look at it in more detail…

What is DLP?

Both individuals and small and large corporations can be affected by data loss, or more accurately data theft. When data is lost in the system, it can often be acquired by unauthorized individuals, whereas data that is leaked can be viewed by an unauthorized user but the data can still remain in its original file.

Over the years, we have seen large companies such as Capital One, Yahoo, Facebook, Friend Finder Networks and the hotel chain Marriott International falling victim to large-scale data breaches that caused millions of users’ data to be hacked and no doubt millions of dollars to fix. Whether or not you are an individual user or part of a larger company, it’s vital that you know how to keep your data safe.

Data Loss Prevention or DLP is a collection of processes and tools that keep sensitive data secure so it is not lost, misused or stolen. Data loss prevention software will detect any potential data breaches and classifies confidential, business and regulated data in collaboration with a company’s policies or standard compliance regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS.

It is fairly commonplace to see Chief Technology Officers or Cyber Security Officers hired by larger companies. The role of these professionals is to ensure that company data is kept secure, using a number of different processes that we will talk about a little more later.

Now that you know the answer to “What is DLP,” we can delve deeper into the other important aspects of DLP.

Why is it Extremely Important to Know About DLP?

It is absolutely vital to know about data loss prevention. Loss of data can be disastrous for companies or individuals. If sensitive data lands in the wrong hands, it can lead to further data breaches, theft or more – depending on the type of information that is lost or leaked. Without data protection, then your privacy and security are open for theft.

If you work for a large corporation that collates customer information that has no security measures in place, then you are not only putting your own data at risk but everyone else’s too. The end result could be catastrophic. Data breaches are commonplace and the methods in which people obtain secure information are now so sophisticated that they are becoming increasingly more difficult to prevent. Luckily, there are measures that you can put in place to keep your data safe and secure.

As fast as the cybercriminals are finding new ways to spot vulnerabilities and exploit them, cybersecurity professionals are working hard to mitigate attacks and put security blocks in place as soon as possible. If you value your data and want to keep yours or your company’s information private and secure, then you will need to know about data loss prevention and how it can help you.

How Does DLP Work?

Data loss prevention works in a number of different ways. The security solution utilizes several types of technology that enable it to identify, monitor and protect data that is in storage alongside data in motion over the network. Data loss prevention software adheres to company policies alongside mandatory compliance regulations such as GDPR. The DLP systems that are put in place will enforce such policies in order to prevent unauthorized access to confidential data. A simple example of this would be if an employee tried to forward a confidential business email or upload a secure file to a consumer via a cloud service such as Dropbox, the employee would be denied permission.

Using a variety of security solutions, DLP software has the ability to identify confidential data and put in place remediation actions to prevent incidents. In other words, the software is programmed to identify a potential data breach and automatically puts into place security measures and protective measures such as data encryption, alerts and other measures that could put the organization at great risk.

In simple terms, data loss prevention technology has been designed to detect potential data breaches and prevents them in a number of different ways including monitoring, detecting and blocking. It does this while in use, in motion and at rest. In other words, the software is constantly working to detect potential breaches for endpoint actions, in network traffic, and in the data storage.

What Types Of Services/Products Go Into DLP And Why Are They Helpful?

Data protection prevention may include the following products and services:

Cloud Security

The use of cloud storage is pretty commonplace now as companies have realized the benefits of using online storage without the need for physical space to store servers. The cloud can be integrated into part of a data loss prevention solution. The first line of defense with any online security measures is to ensure that the data is safe and secure in the first instance and with data breaches so common, cloud storage providers have stepped up their game when it comes to data safety.


Data protection software often uses Artificial Intelligence to look out for potential threats and anything that looks suspicious. When a potential threat is discovered, alerts or blocks are put in place to stop the potential loss of data.

Antivirus Software

If you own a company, then you should already be using antivirus software. The levels of security offered do tend to differ, however, and McAfee offers a package that provides total protection for data loss prevention. You can read more about antivirus software here.

Data loss protection technologies usually fit into two categories:

  1. Integrated DLP: this is limited to secure email gateways and secure web gateways, data classification tools, enterprise content management platforms, data discovery tools, email encryption products, and cloud access security brokers.
  2. Enterprise DLP: comprehensive packages for servers and desktops, physical and virtual appliances for monitoring email traffic and networks and soft appliances for data discovery

DLP solutions are not only helpful but vital to the safety of your company data. Not only that but they help you to stay ahead of the game with evolving compliance mandates. GDPR is constantly evolving and this also means that data protection regulations have tightened. Data prevention loss solutions help you to manage and evolve with these ever-changing regulations.

Another reason to use DLP is the pandemic of data breaches. It’s only a matter of time until your company will encounter problems if you do not have the correct safety solutions in place. Data that has been illegally obtained is often sold on the Dark Web and is worth more on the black market for criminals looking for data that they can then exploit. As your company expands, your data will grow with you. You’re going to need somewhere secure to store your data and ensure that it is safe at all times.

Do I Really Need DLP?

Yes! If we haven’t managed to convince you so far, then consider the following:

Does your company store consumer data?

If your organization stores and collects any of the following: PCI (Payment Card Information), PHI (Protected Health Information) or PII (Personal Identifiable Information), then you will be subject to compliance regulations that will require you to ensure that your customer’s sensitive data is safe. Data loss prevention not only identifies, classifies and tags data but it monitors activity relating to that data too. Compliance audits are a simpler affair too when you have reports that are easily generated.

Do you store trade secrets?

If you store trade secrets or intellectual property, then can you afford not to use DLP software? If ever your trade secrets were found in the wrong hands, it could be disastrous for your business.

Do you need to see more data?

Not everyone considers this, but for some companies, data visibility is vital. If you use a comprehensive DLP solution, you will be able to track your data in the cloud, on the network and endpoints.


Using a comprehensive DLP solution for your business is wise. Data breaches are commonplace and have recently hit large-scale companies causing havoc. No matter what size enterprise you own/work for or indeed even if you are an individual, it is vital to keep your data safe and secure. Ensuring that your data lives in a safe place and is regularly monitored for safety and potential threats could prevent you from a great loss. Ask yourself this honest question…how safe is your data?

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