Data Leakage Prevention

by Tony Richardson CISSP


Data Leakage Prevention – also known as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) – is a big topic these days and in the context of cybersecurity. The globe is powered by services these days, the “knowledge” economy truly does rule the roost and as a result of this, entire cohorts of cybercriminals scramble for invaluable business data. You – as the business owner – have a lot to lose if the wrong things end up in the wrong hands.

In this day and age, data is one of the most valuable commodities a business can possess. The loss of even a small amount of data can be crippling. So, it’s no wonder that businesses go to great lengths to protect their information from being stolen or leaked out. But what is data leakage, and how exactly can it hurt a business? 

1. What is data leakage 

Data leaks occur when – usually sensitive – data is transmitted without authorisation. These transmissions can be either electronic or physical and may come from any number of sources including the web, email messages, mobile devices like USB keys and laptops. It’s the digital equivalent of a company insurgent stealing top files from a filing cabinet. 

Data theft is a huge problem for organisations of all sizes, and the damage caused can be serious. If left unchecked it could result in declining revenue or even legal action that spells the end for that business. Yes…another one bites the dust. 

2. Why it’s a big deal 

Data leakage is a huge deal. The information that’s being leaked can include personal details, financial transactions and more. A lot of people may not realise the extent to which all sorts of data is useful to all kinds of cybercriminals, bad actors that can also strike from virtually anywhere on the planet.

This means that confidential information such as bank account numbers, social security numbers and more may be compromised because of system vulnerabilities or human errors. Access a lot of the time is given inadvertently or through insecure practices like leaving computers unlocked or accepting files from strangers via email without verification of identity–allowing them in where you didn’t want anyone else going. Next thing you know they have their fingertips on juicy company information. Ouch!

What are the consequences of it

The financial impact is a major concern for business leaders in the wake of data leaks. This can vary depending on what type of leak, but usually victims have to deal with costs stemming from damage control such as increased security measures and investigation into their breach or potential losses caused by reactive steps taken during an attack like containing it effectively.

There might also be compensation offered such as paying back customers who were negatively impacted. 

The thought of reaching a wider audience based entirely upon recent data breaches is daunting. These events can have devastating effects on both the company and its customers, employees may feel targeted with negative press that goes beyond their abilities to control, especially those not even in the concerned department. 

The ramifications of a data breach can be felt for years and the costliest mistake an organization ever made. With everyone looking at you, it’s critical to ensure each step following is handled correctly so as not only avoid further harm but also keep your customers where they need to be – by giving them what they want. 

A data leak is a major disruption to business operations. The entire mission changes within minutes, and it takes time for things to return or continue as normal after the investigation concludes. Operations may need to be completely shut down while this happens which can take anywhere from days weeks depending on how bad of an attack was launched against you

I hope my opinion helped in some way!

There are strict regulations regarding data protection, and even organizations with good intentions can get into trouble. When personal information is leaked it often leads to class-action lawsuits that demand compensation from the company involved in order for them to make up for any damages caused by their negligence of practices. When it comes to data protection, regulations have no mercy. 

What are the Causes of Data leakage and loss

Six of the most common causes of data leakage are:

  • Bad software settings
  • Recycled passwords
  • Default Passwords
  • Social engineering
  • Physical Theft
  • Vulnerability of software

How Data Leakage Prevention works

Data loss prevention (DLP), per Gartner, may be defined as technologies which perform both content inspection and contextual analysis of data sent via messaging applications such as email or instant messages. These solutions execute responses based on the type of information that would indicate potential security threats.

The task of identifying sensitive data can be tricky, as different pieces may exist in your infrastructure:

-Data In Use: Active memory modules containing current application state or user input; these are often found stored locally on client machines so they don’t have to travel over networks when polled by the server

Data at Rest:  Data stored in databases, on file systems or backup storage infrastructure.

Data in motion: The data that is being transmitted via a network can be either internal and secure or across the public internet.

What IT can do to mitigate problems with data leakage

To keep your personal information safe, you have to store it in a secure place where no one can get access without being asked for authorisation. You should make sure the passwords on all of our devices are strong and that we use up-to date software programs so nothing goes missing or gets hacked. 

Have a clear desk policy to help minimise the risk of sensitive information being left unattended.

Remote staff must understand the manner in which personal data should be handled when working off-site. If using mobile devices, put technical measures into place to secure them such as two factor authentication (2FA).

If you name your documents the same way every time, it makes them easier to find and less likely that someone will attach a wrong one.

One of the most common ways that personal data is compromised in a breach is when an employee leaves their position and takes sensitive information with them. Protect yourself by including restrictive covenant clauses about soliciting or dealing with customers during employment, which will stop ex-workers from using what they learned at your company against you later on.

Who should care about Data Leakage Prevention

It is no secret that cyber security challenges face small business owners and managers every day. A recent survey found that only 15% of IT decision makers “completely agree” their employees have a good understanding about how to stay safe online, while 20 percent think they don’t care at all. 

Up-down, sideways, diagonally. Whichever way your organisational hierarchy is set up, teams across the board should be vigilant and have adequate knowledge to deal with cybercrime and attacks. It’s simply too important an issue to leave to chance. Everyone should care about data leakage prevention. 


Data leakage is a big deal. It’s not just about protecting yourself from hackers, but also keeping your customer data safe and secure. There are many steps you can take to protect the sensitive information on your company servers and devices, as well as what customers provide you with when they visit your site or fill out an order form. Take action now and make sure that all of this personal information isn’t vulnerable for exploitation by those who would do it harm.  Which security measures have you taken?