3 Benefits of Investing in Data Loss Prevention Tools

Data loss prevention

Data loss prevention (DLP) tools are essential when you consider all of the different components, domains and groups within an organization (e.g., human resources, marketing and sales, accounting, legal, etc.) and the data collected, shared, analyzed and stored by each.  Data is being generated at a rate that organizations have never seen before, and as a result of hybrid and remote work models, as well as the ability for employees to work from their personal devices, an organization’s data assets can be quite literally anywhere.  As a result, there is a greater risk of data breaches, data leakage (which is usually the result of human error) and data exfiltration.

At a high level, DLP tools help prevent the intentional or unintentional transfer or sharing of sensitive data outside of an organization’s boundary. DLP tools are not new, but traditional DLP tools do not meet the data protection needs of modern businesses.  One reason traditional DLP tools are becoming less effective, and in some instances more time-consuming, is due to the  considerably high number of false positives that security teams have to spend time investigating.  While there are many types of DLP tools with varying features and capabilities such as data discovery and classification, file monitoring and user behavior monitoring that’s worthy of discussion, and while it’s also interesting that DLP tools include solutions that provide coverage across networks, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and endpoints (e.g., mobile devices and laptops), or enterprise coverage, this blog will focus on three core benefits of DLP tools.

Greater Visibility into Sensitive and High-Risk Data

There are many types of data (e.g., customer data, employee data, proprietary data, financial data, health information, etc.).  Some types of data are more sensitive than others.  Some types of data are heavily regulated.  A  clear understanding of what data are classified as sensitive and why, as well as the location of the data, is necessary to understand the applicable laws, regulations, security controls and industry standards.  DLP tools help organizations gain visibility into their more sensitive data by identifying and classifying the data.  You can only protect data that you can identify and locate.  Further, visibility into the organization’s data types supports incident response activities in the event of a data breach, as well as compliance activities related to such things as data retention and disposal, as well as data backups.

Prevents Data Leakage and Exfiltration of Data 

DLP solutions mitigate the risks associated with data leaks.  A data leak occurs when sensitive data is accidentally exposed.  Often times, the exposure is due to employee mistake or error.  As an example, in 2021, UpGuard discovered that at least 47 organizations were unknowingly leaking data through a misconfiguration in Microsoft's PowerApp solutions.  This “oversight” resulted in the exposure of tens of millions of private records.  In these types of situations where data was accidentally leaked, cybercriminals will take advantage of the error and use the leaked data to commit cybercrimes.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Standards (NIST), exfiltration is the unauthorized transfer of information from a system.  Cybercriminals may use a ransomware attack to exfiltrate data and then threaten to leak, destroy or keep the data if an organization does not pay a ransom.  DLP tools detect instances of data leaks and exfiltration, and minimize the loss of data by blocking the data from leaving the organization’s boundary.

In addition to the DLP solution’s technology, it is also important that the workforce understands how critical it is to maintain security awareness and participate in regular information security trainings.  The combination of the DLP solution and the organizations commitment to security awareness and training will mitigate the human element risk that is often times associated with data leaks.

Enables Strong Incident Response  

Another benefit to deploying a DLP solution is that doing so enables incident response teams to confidently tackle the requirements in each phase required to respond to an incident (i.e., preparation, detection and analysis, containment, eradication and recovery and post-incident activities).  Ideally, the preparation phase is when organizations should acquire the necessary DLP tools.  A DLP solution should be able to quickly detect an incident and mitigate the loss or destruction of data.  The right DLP solution will generate reports that help security teams discuss the technical details of the incident response, as well as answer many of the questions that will arise after a breach is declared.


Organizations are using more and more data to conduct business, and they want to protect their most sensitive, high-risk data.  As a result, and in order to meet the challenges associated with protecting the many types of data that most modern businesses collect, a modern DLP solution is necessary.

Ambler Ambler is an attorney with an extensive background in corporate governance, regulatory compliance, and privacy law.  She currently consults on governance, risk and compliance, enterprise data management, and data privacy and security matters in Washington, DC. She also writes with Bora Design about today’s most important cybersecurity and regulatory compliance issues.

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