Man preventing data loss using desktop computer
4 min

What Is Data Loss Prevention? Starter Guide To Email DLP

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a term used to refer to a range of tools that help protect sensitive data including credit card numbers and personal information. Generally speaking, DLP aims to stop the loss of valuable data, either through human error or interception, before it's too late.

Data loss prevention is the process of identifying, monitoring and protecting sensitive data from threats.

Data loss prevention (DLP) tools are a subset of cyber security technologies that help to protect one of your organisation's most sensitive assets: information.

While there are many different types of data security technologies, DLP is unique in that it focuses on protecting information based on its sensitivity.

This can include anything from customer contact details held in an on-premise server to ID verification documents sent by email.

Why Is DLP Important?

Data Loss Can Be Costly

The average cost of a data breach is USD $4.45 million (GBP £3.53m) according to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach Report.

Data Loss Can Be Embarrassing

How would you feel if your company lost all its customer records? Or if it was subjected to fines because one of your employees had accidentally sent a file containing client information over email? Data breaches can be a source of anxiety and stress, impacting employee wellbeing.

Women made an email mistake on laptop

Data Loss Can Be Damaging

If someone steals customer details or your company's intellectual property, they likely intend to use it for their benefit — and that could mean serious legal trouble as well as major losses in revenue if those customers are negatively affected and take their business elsewhere.

What Are Some Good Ways To Prevent Data Loss?

Develop A Robust Security Policy

Data security policies govern the use of company devices and networks to ensure robust data security and prevent data breaches. It can include remote wipe protocols, regular backups, and sign-in and out policies for particularly data sensitive devices.

Encrypt Sensitive Data (At Rest And In Transit!)

Encryption is vital for ensuring your sensitive data can't be accessed by anyone who picks up one of your devices or intercepts communications. It disguises data with secret "keys" so that only authorised individuals, apps, and networks can gain access.

Use Enterprise Cybersecurity Software

Not all cybersecurity products are created alike — consumer cybersecurity software might not cut it when you're responsible for hundreds, if not thousands of data points. Using business-grade cybersecurity software will keep your security in line with the latest regulatory guidance for businesses dealing with customer information.

Make Sure Devices Are Regularly Updated

Regularly updating and backing up software and devices is essential to maintain good data security hygiene. Updating operating systems and apps with the latest patches will help you get protection against the latest attack strategies used by cyber threat actors.

Utilise Identity Authentication When Necessary

In some business communications, it might be necessary to establish that you are dealing with the right people, especially when transferring sensitive documents. Using communications software and processes that give you the power to identify, or 'authenticate', customers can prevent you from communicating the wrong information to the wrong people.

What Is Email Data Loss Prevention?

Email data loss prevention (DLP) is a catch-all term for security solutions that help to protect business and personal information by preventing the accidental or intentional release of confidential data.

Colleagues looking at secure email solution

Email DLP can be used to protect both business and personal email accounts, on all types of devices. It works by recognising sensitive information (such as phone numbers, credit card numbers, banking details) wherever it appears in an email message.

Different email DLP solutions may block an email from sending or surface additional checks for the sender to verify they are sure they want to send their email. Mailock, our secure email service, gives you the option to automatically encrypt emails containing particular information or take the sender through such additional checks.

Prevent Email Data Loss

Here are some steps you can take to prevent email data loss:

Use Secure Email

If there's a possibility that people may use email to transfer sensitive information or documents, you need to make sure you have a secure email solution in place to protect that data. A secure email solution like Mailock can be deployed easily and integrated into your email workflow.

Use Authentication

Make sure that your email is encrypted and protected with authentication. If you're sending something highly sensitive, you'll want to make sure it can only be accessed by the person you intend to receive it. Secure email solutions like Mailock give you the ability to verify recipient ID in various way, such as a code sent to a device or a question and answer.

Don't Email!

If you aren't using secure email, it's better to communicate with colleagues and clients over video call instead of email when dealing with sensitive information; this reduces exposure from hacking attempts since video calls don't leave behind as many digital footprints.

Signing Off

There are ways to easily prevent data loss in email. You should choose a prevention method based on the needs of your organisation and the resources available to implement it effectively. If not, you shouldn't be using email for sensitive information at all.

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Originally posted on 13 06 22
Last updated on December 21, 2023

Posted by: Sabrina McClune

Sabrina McClune is an expert researcher with an MA in Digital Marketing. She was a finalist in the Women In Tech Awards 2022. Sabrina has worked extensively with B2B technology companies conducting and compiling thorough academically driven research to produce online and offline media. She loves to read fantasy novels and collect special edition books.

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