Cybersecurity has become a significant concern in the modern world as businesses and organizations move their operations online, and their data are transferred, stored, and used across extremely distributed physical and cloud infrastructures, favored by the new hybrid working models. With the rise of cyber threats and attacks predicted to reach a 15% yearly growth rate, and the annual costs of the damage will rise to $10.5 trillion by 2025, data loss has become a critical common problem that companies must face and address.
Data loss can be caused by a variety of internal and external reasons, including, but not limited to, cyber-attacks, system malfunctions, and employee errors. A data loss incident can lead to significant financial, legal, and reputational consequences for an organization, as it causes a plastic distortion to its cyber posture, reputation, and revenue.
Data security deals with physical controls, authentication methods, and access mechanisms. Besides security, data protection is a key compliance requirement across many regulatory frameworks, policies, and standards. Security and compliance must walk together, hand in hand; organizations must implement data loss prevention (DLP) measures to protect their data and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.
DLP is regulations’ dependent
DLP assists businesses in detecting, identifying, and responding subsequently to potential cyber threats. Although commonly referred to as a single method, it is a bouquet of tools and procedures. DLP solutions alert, encrypt, and take all necessary action to ensure that a business’s data is not misused and becomes accessible without authorization, thus preventing its exfiltration and exploitation.
DLP monitors and controls data at rest, in motion, and in use, at every endpoint, corporate network, and in the cloud. Additionally, a DLP solution identifies weaknesses and provides analytics and reports to further feed forensics and incident response.
DLP by itself is not a standalone solution for the wide cybersecurity problem. High-skilled cybercriminals and negligent and malicious insiders will continue to exist and threaten organizations’ data. For that reason, DLP is an essential requirement across many regulations, and businesses must put all their efforts into implementing a robust DLP solution that complies with the existing conditions. DLP software categorizes regulated, sensitive, and business-critical data and detects policy breaches set by businesses or prompted by regulatory compliance standards like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI-DSS.
DLP across existing regulations
For an adequate and successful defense against cyber threats, a robust and regulatory-compliant DLP solution must be appreciated and implemented. Today, advanced solutions ensure, apart from their efficacy in detecting potential threats, their compliance with existing regulations. DLP and compliance relationship can be summarized as follows:
1. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):
To ensure compliance with GDPR, the cornerstone privacy regulation, global businesses must be transparent about collecting and processing EU citizens’ data. DLP solutions discover, identify, classify, and protect all GDPR-related data, no matter their state, at rest, in use, or in transit.
2. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS):
A set of 12 requirements, from a firewall to network security testing, which regulates the handling of customers’ credit and debit card data. Companies doing business online are responsible for employing adequate DLP solutions to comply with the Standard and not compromise customers’ data.
3. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA):
A US federal law that governs how the healthcare industry protects the sensitive and cybercriminals’ lucrative personal health information (PHI) of patients. As the healthcare sector was one of the three most attacked industries in 2022, all healthcare-related industries must comply with HIPAA requirements for networked, physical, and procedural security measures. With adequate DLP solutions, the patients’ PHI and personally identifiable information (PII) is protected, and the need for accessibility and data security is well balanced.
4. International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR):
A regulation that controls defense technologies’ export to provide security to the USA. Any ITAR violation results in civil and criminal penalties. It restricts and controls the exporting of technologies associated with the military sector. ITAR data must always be visible, classified, and protected, which is achievable through a successful DLP program.
6. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA):
The so-called “California’s GDPR,” amended by the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) at the beginning of 2023, is considered the most demanding legislation in recent history. Strict criteria define who can apply; if a company is accepted, it must build and develop extensive data security programs, access management, and DLP solutions.
7. Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX):
Mainly focused on reporting rather than protecting public sector companies’ financial data. It specifies what financial data needs to be retained for how long. A robust DLP solution and tools to automate workflows can help meet SOX’s compliance requirements, as it manages and monitors data flows and ensures data integrity.
Compliance through adequate DLP
DLP can guarantee an organization’s regulations compliance and minimizes the risks of penalties and legal consequences, apart from data leak and data loss incidents. Under the umbrella of employees’ security awareness and cyber hygiene training, DLP and regulations must work together for optimum results. Regulations spell out what kind of data needs protection, while adequate DLP solutions simplify the monitoring and control management of regulated data wherever they exist, delivering accurate alerting with a low false alarm rate.
Preventing data is critical to compliance with data protection regulations and an organization’s data security. By implementing various measures, including encryption, access controls, DLP solutions, and training, businesses can protect their sensitive data, such as PII, PHI, and PCI DSS, reduce the risk of financial and legal consequences, and maintain their reputation among their customers and stakeholders.