Network DLP (Data Loss Prevention): Best Practices and Solutions

data loss prevention network

The global average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million, the highest it’s ever been. While you might not have to pay millions of dollars for a data breach at your business alone, you can expect major consequences.

Data breaches costing thousands of dollars can bankrupt some businesses. Not to mention, you lose credibility as a trustworthy brand, which can tank your income drastically.

With a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) plan, you can protect your data from loss and theft. Keep reading to learn about network DLP and the best practices your business can implement.

What Is Data Loss Prevention?

Data loss prevention is a strategy filled with tools and practices to help your business prevent data breaches. DLP solutions can identify, monitor, and protect sensitive data from being leaked or stolen.

DLP works by scanning and analyzing data while it moves throughout different channels, such as:

  • Cloud storage
  • Email
  • Endpoints
  • Network file shares

Organizations can use DLP solutions to comply with data privacy regulations. More on that below.

Do You Need a Data Loss Prevention Strategy?

Your business might rely heavily on data within your IT infrastructure. A network DLP strategy is especially beneficial for large businesses, but businesses of any size should have some level of data loss prevention.

A data loss prevention strategy can help your business avoid fines for non-compliance. With a plan in place, you can stay compliant with these key frameworks:

  • NIST
  • ISO

The digital world is filled with potential hazards that can cause harm to your organization. Adopting a stance against data loss can help you avoid these potential threats:


Ransomware is one of the most common cyberattacks affecting businesses. It mainly exploits human error vulnerabilities.

To avoid ransomware, you and your employees must follow best practices for cyber safety. Everyone in your organization should have access to your data loss prevention strategy.

Ransomware spreads through messages that appear to be real but are scams. Once the illegitimate link is opened, malware can spread through the database and take critical data.

Ransomware is a severe threat because there aren’t many remedial options. Your best defense against ransomware is prevention.

Insider Threats

Security measures against data disruption are better than they’ve ever been. Insider attacks can still diminish the work developed against hackers.

There are threats your business can face from insider criminals. Your employees likely know of any potential security vulnerabilities your business might fail to address.

Working with cybersecurity service providers who have a suitable data protection plan includes possible insider attacks and how to prevent them.

Software Corruption and Hardware Issues

IT infrastructures aren’t only susceptible to security threats; they are at risk of various threats. Software corruption and hardware issues can lead to data loss without you knowing it.

These issues can happen quickly and damage can be insurmountable. A well-structured plan will mitigate these risks and help keep your business operating efficiently.

Network DLP Best Practices and Solutions

Data security should be at the forefront of your business, especially if you handle customer data. Data loss events can be catastrophic to your business, so it’s important to create prevention plans.

These are the steps you can take to improve your network DLP plan:

Identify and Classify Data

Data classification can help your business stay organized. You can categorize your data based on how it impacts your business, its value, and its sensitivity. With this, you’ll be able to effectively prioritize critical data.

Once you identify the most important data, you can implement more resources to critical categories. Access control and encryption are great tools to utilize to prevent unwanted access.

Access control will limit who can access data by requiring a form of authentication. Not everyone working for your business should have access to the most sensitive data. Keep this in mind when setting up access control.

Encryption can convert data into an unreadable format to prevent unauthorized eyes as well.

Classifying your data and applying appropriate security best practices reduces the risk of theft. You can maintain the confidentiality that your most important data requires.

Enable Access Control

As briefly discussed above, access control measures can restrict unwanted access to sensitive data. Certain data will only be available to authorized individuals who need it to complete job functions.

The most basic form of access control is a password-protected account. You can add a layer of security with multi-factor authentication.

Access controls are beneficial for eliminating insider threats. It’s also helpful for other types of threats, but can immediately improve your insider threat DLP strategy.

Monitor Data Access

Monitoring data access means tracking who can access data. You can also see when someone accesses data and what they do with it.

Monitoring data access is beneficial because it allows businesses to quickly identify where data is most susceptible to a breach. With this information, you can take action and implement best practices to prevent unauthorized access.

Here are some of the most common ways you can monitor data access:

  • Implementing real-time monitoring tools
  • Logging access attempts
  • Reviewing activity logs

Real-time monitoring tools will help your business detect suspicious activity. If anything suspicious comes up, security personnel will be alerted. You can stop potential data breaches as they occur.

Logging access attempts and analyzing the details will help you organize unauthorized access attempts to provide a record of who accessed sensitive data.

Reviewing these logs provides insight that can help you identify potential security weaknesses.

Monitoring access allows you to quickly detect and respond to potential threats. Many data security standards and regulations require data access monitoring.

Complete Security Audits

Regular security audits can provide you with a complete overview of your security procedures and controls. The purpose of an audit is to identify vulnerabilities and how they can be improved.

Any successful DLP strategy will include regular security audits. An IT support crew will uncover vulnerabilities within:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Network Infrastructure
  • Security policies and procedures

Once these vulnerabilities are identified, you can address them before hackers take advantage. The easiest solution is to patch software and update your hardware regularly.

You might need to go as far as implementing a new security control plan with new policies. As security threats change, your plan of action needs to change with them.

Regular security audits can keep your business cybersecurity compliant with industry standards and regulatory requirements.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) require regular auditing.

Train Employees

Human error is at the forefront of data loss events. Your network DLP policy must include training and educating your employees on the dangers of data breaches.

Employees who are well aware of cybersecurity best practices are less likely to fall victim to cyberattacks, such as ransomware or phishing emails. You can train employees to:

  • Identify phishing emails
  • Avoid suspicious links
  • Use secure passwords
  • Use multi-factor authentication

Employees who have access to sensitive data should learn the best data handling policies. Requiring your staff to use encrypted storage devices is a common theme in business.

One-time training is not enough for data governance and security. Reinforce your policies to ensure employees know their role in protecting sensitive data.

Keeping employees informed about the latest security trends can help prevent data loss and theft. Not only will you reduce your risk of a cyberattack, but you can maintain data confidentiality.

A DLP policy should include education for stakeholders. As main users of data, they need to understand the best practices to safeguard information.

Create an Incident Response Plan

Data breaches can occur even if you implement security best practices. There are unknown vulnerabilities that can pop up. Hackers become more advanced over time as well.

An incident response plan will outline the steps necessary to take if a data breach occurs. A clear incident response plan will minimize damage from a data breach and can prevent a complete loss of a good reputation.

To quickly get back to business as usual, you’ll need to follow these incident response steps:

  • Identification
  • Containment
  • Notification
  • Investigation
  • Remediation

We’ll go over each of them briefly to help you make a detailed plan.


Identifying the nature and scope of the infiltration is the first step to remediation. You need to find out the data that has been compromised and who it affects. If you can, figure out how the breach occurred.


To limit the spread of data loss, you need to contain the breach. This could involve a variety of steps. Consider isolating the affected systems or shutting down the affected services.


Those who are affected by the data breach should be notified. Chief security officers, stakeholders, and regulatory authorities must be notified by law and should be included in your company’s policy.

To prevent disputes in the future, notification should be accurate and timely. Provide clear details about the breach and how you are planning to address it.


A thorough investigation will determine the culprit. As well as getting to the bottom of the cause of the breach, you can investigate to determine the extent of damage.

A managed IT company can use forensic analysis or other investigative techniques to analyze affected systems. Employee interviews can also shed light on some important details.


To prevent similar breaches from happening in the future, implement new security protocols. Corrective actions might involve:

  • Revising policies and procedures
  • Patching vulnerabilities
  • Upgrading security controls

All of these steps are essential to a comprehensive network DLP strategy.

Automated Backups and Disaster Recovery

Companies can quickly recover from data loss situations with automated backups. Automated backups should be regularly scheduled to ensure critical data is always backed up.

The 3-2-1 backup strategy is a common method for easily recovering data that has been properly duplicated.

It involves three copies of your original data and two duplicate versions. There are two duplicate versions in case one of your backups gets stolen or lost.

The two storage types can help uncover important documents in the event of a data loss. One copy is stored away from your business in case the property is damaged in some way.

Data backup options are growing to meet business demands. You can use a combination of data backups to maximize your protection. Any single option is better than nothing, but try to pick between two of these methods:

  • Removable device
  • External hard drive
  • Cloud backups
  • Computer/device backups

Depending on how often you use your devices, you should perform backups at least weekly. Daily backups might be the best option for large businesses.

Consider Data Retention

At a certain point, there’s no reason to keep certain data. A data retention policy ensures that data is retained only as long as it needs to be.

In industries where data retention policies are mandated by the law, staying ahead of the game by adding data retention to your DLP plan is key.

Storing only essential information should be at the top of your priority list. You can’t lose data that you no longer have.

In your data retention strategy, make sure you include a plan for disposing of data correctly.

Harden Your Systems

To ensure your operating system is as secure as it can be, eliminate unnecessary apps and services that are prone to vulnerabilities.

It’s best to have a baseline operating system for employees and add functionality based on their need to access data. All confidential data requires tracking. This includes reports on who is accessing the data and from where.

Working Together to Minimize Data Disruption

Minimizing data disruption is not a one-size-fits-all task. It’s an ongoing journey that will depend on your business needs and technology preferences.

With a network DLP strategy in place, you can prevent cyber threats from happening and be prepared if a hacker slips through the cracks. You can provide your business and employees with training and local trends.

At Be Structured Technology Group, we know that your business deserves technology that works for you, not against you.

Since 2007, we’ve been delivering superior outsourced IT support and quality tools.

Partner with an IT company that shares your goals now.

About Chad Lauterbach

CEO at Be Structured Technology Group, Inc. a Los Angeles based provider of Managed IT Services for small business. I desire to help small businesses better utilize technology by assisting in high level planning to make sure that new systems will benefit them both operationally and financially. I am careful to implement and support systems using industry best practices.