As regulations and corporate standards place increasing demands on IT to ensure safe data handling, deploying necessary protective solutions can seem daunting. In this article, we’ll cover what a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution includes and what you need to consider when choosing the right DLP solution for your organization.

What is a DLP solution?

This may sound like an easy question, but the fact that it’s not unusual to see DLP features in a variety of technologies (email security for example) can make it somewhat difficult to define what DLP is and isn’t. A comprehensive DLP solution is a dedicated suite of products that identifies, monitors, and protects your organization’s business critical data while it’s in use (at the endpoint), in motion (on the network), and at rest (in storage) by using technologies such as classification, fingerprinting, and exact data matching. DLP solutions will also include centralized management, policy creation, and enforcement capabilities.

Some data loss prevention solutions can require substantial effort to deploy, which can also mean large ongoing maintenance costs. To be sure you select the solution that’s right for your organization’s data protection needs, here are some key things to consider as you evaluate options.

What data do you need to protect?

Understanding what types of data you have and what level of protection each type requires is a critical first step. You also need to understand where that data resides, how and where it’s used, and by whom. Not sure what you have or where it goes? A comprehensive DLP solution should have capabilities that will automatically discover and classify data across your network—from device to cloud. It should also help you gain visibility into where your data goes and who is using it, which will in turn help you better understand what protection you need and where as well as identify any gaps that might exist in your current processes.

What protections do you need and where do you need them?

With a multitude of ways data can leave your organization—whether through malicious actions or inadvertently—it’s important to understand which protocols a DLP solution can analyze and act against. Can it control USB ports so that sensitive data can’t be downloaded onto a thumb drive or other external device? Does it cover which applications users can or can’t use on specific devices? An effective DLP solution should be able to enforce policies for information leaving the network across a wide range of protocols—email, webmail, instant messaging, wikis, blogs, FTP, cloud services, and more.

What resources will be required to deploy and manage the DLP solution?

You can’t afford to wait months for your data protection solution to start to do its job. Some DLP solutions require lengthy and complex deployments that demand highly specialized skills to build, tweak, and tune. Be sure that you know what a typical deployment timeframe is for each DLP solution you are evaluating as well as what professional services will be required to get your solution up and running. You also need to understand the ongoing, operational resources that will be needed to manage the solution—how easy is it to make policy changes as needed, what kind of training will be required for your team and end users, and does it meet your reporting needs?

Understanding what your organization’s needs are in these key areas and what potential DLP solutions can deliver will help you identify the solution that best fits your environment and resources available.

Visit our data protection solutions page to learn more about how McAfee can help you protect your sensitive data and choose the right DLP solution for your needs.

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