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Understanding DLP Governance

The backbone supporting the effectiveness of many cybersecurity strategies is a well-structured governance framework. DLP governance ensures that every element of a data loss protection program—from policies and procedures to technologies and training—works in concert to protect sensitive information effectively. Here’s an overview of DLP governance, including the successful components of a DLP governance program, best practices, and more.

Understanding DLP Governance

DLP governance refers to the strategies, policies, and measures your company implements to prevent unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, or destruction of sensitive data. DLP governance is all about how to cohesively prevent data loss and breaches by focusing on the security aspect of data management and how that’s directed at your company. General data governance, on the other hand, has a broader focus that includes aspects like data quality, data lifecycle management, and data architecture.

DLP plays a central role in supporting data security and compliance with regulations by:

  • Identifying sensitive data across your networks, endpoints, and cloud environments. Once identified, you can apply DLP policies and technologies to protect this data from unauthorized access or exfiltration.
  • Providing visibility into how data is being accessed, used, and transferred within and outside your IT ecosystem. This monitoring allows you to control data movement according to predefined policies, which helps prevent potential data breaches or leaks.
  • Reducing the risk of financial loss, reputational damage, and legal consequences associated with data breaches.
  • Enforcing compliance policies automatically helps you stick to the rules of different regulations. For example, DLP can block unauthorized attempts to send sensitive information via email, download it to flash drives, or upload it to external cloud storage.
  • Classifying and mapping your data, which is often a requirement under data protection regulations. Knowing where sensitive data resides and how it flows through your IT environment is critical for demonstrating compliance with data protection principles—it’s hard to prove compliance if you don’t even know where your sensitive data is.

The Importance of DLP Governance for CISOs and IT Managers

For CISOs and IT managers tasked with protecting data assets, DLP governance puts a framework in place to direct overall business actions and decisions towards best protecting these assets. By defining what data is considered sensitive and establishing policies, practices, and tools for its handling, DLP governance programs reduce the risk of data breaches. DLP governance includes the implementation of encryption and other remediation measures to protect sensitive data, even in scenarios where unauthorized users access it.

DLP governance frameworks typically include mechanisms for generating reports and maintaining audit trails of data handling and breaches. These capabilities are essential for demonstrating compliance with regulatory bodies during audits and investigations. And on a broader risk management point, effective DLP governance provides strategic risk mitigation by aligning DLP policies with your organization’s overall risk management strategy. CISOs and IT Managers can therefore ensure a strategic approach to mitigating data-related risks.

Key Components of a Successful DLP Governance Program

There are four main components for a successful DLP governance program: 1) Policy Development, 2) Technology Implementation, 3) User Education and Training, and 4) Monitoring and Reporting. Here’s a deeper look at these areas.

Policy Development

Governance starts with establishing clear, comprehensive policies that define what constitutes sensitive data and outline how it should be handled by anyone with access to it. Policy development should involve engaging with stakeholders from various departments (IT, legal, HR, etc.) to ensure the DLP policies align with your business objectives, legal requirements, and operational practices. Don’t forget to establish a schedule for regular policy reviews and updates to adapt to evolving data protection landscapes and business needs.

Technology Implementation

A huge factor in a successful DLP governance program is selecting the right DLP solutions that align with your specific data protection needs and policy requirements. For example, if you have endpoint devices in place with different operating systems, you’ll want to consider a tool that covers Windows, Linux, and macOS so that you prevent data loss across your endpoint inventory.

Choose DLP solutions that best fit your IT environment (on-premises, cloud, hybrid) and offer scalability, ease of integration, and full coverage for data at rest, in motion, and in use. Configuring the DLP tools based on the developed policies and continuously fine-tuning the settings is also important.

User Education and Training

Educating employees about DLP policies, tools, and practices is essential in a DLP governance program. Without employees being properly directed about safe behavior in sensitive data protection, there are likely to be breaches, leaks, and other incidents that are preventable with good education and training.

As part of this learning, offer tailored training sessions for different roles within your company that focuses on specific responsibilities and guidelines related to data handling. Also, develop and roll out awareness programs highlighting the importance of data protection and the potential risks of data loss, perhaps through things like newsletters and flyers.

Monitoring and Reporting

Regularly assess your DLP program’s effectiveness by analyzing incident logs, response times, and any other information that can inform you. Develop clear reporting mechanisms to document compliance with internal policies and regulatory requirements. Part of this reporting must entail incident response plans that help swiftly and specifically deal with any data loss incidents.

Best Practices for DLP Governance

Quite apart from the essential components of effective DLP governance, there are also some best practices worth bearing in mind when you attempt to oversee the direction of your DLP strategy:

  • Establish a regular schedule for reviewing your DLP policies to ensure they remain relevant in the face of changing business practices, technological advancements, and regulatory requirements.
  • Involve key stakeholders from IT, legal, compliance, and business units in the review process to ensure you consider all perspectives; only listening to one department can lead to frustration or even non-compliance with internal DLP practices and policies.
  • Use a well-structured change management process for updating any policies or processes to ensure you clearly communicate, document, and roll out changes in a controlled way.
  • Look for tools with the capability to automatically scan and identify sensitive information across your organization’s digital footprint. This takes much of the groundwork away in getting full protection against loss and leaks.
  • Develop clear criteria for classifying data based on sensitivity levels, bearing in mind both regulatory requirements and how valuable that data is.
  • Conduct regular simulation exercises to test and refine your incident response plan so that you can better recover from data loss incidents.
  • After an incident, perform a thorough analysis to identify root causes, assess the effectiveness of the response, and implement improvements to prevent similar future issues.


A DLP governance program sets the direction for safeguarding sensitive information to help with both regulatory compliance and general data security. This governance structure aligns data protection efforts with your organization’s goals and establishes clear policies and procedures for data management.

Endpoint DLP tools play a crucial role within a DLP governance framework by extending data protection directly to the devices where most data access and use occur (and also where most data loss incidents stem from). Tools that work at the endpoint level provide visibility into and control over how data is transferred from endpoint devices, help you enforce policies locally regardless of network connection status, and facilitate compliance/reporting.

Endpoint Protector is a DLP solution that provides multi-OS data loss prevention. eDiscovery helps you find sensitive data, and content-aware protection scans data in motion to help block file transfers effortlessly. You also get enforced encryption, device control, and data movement restrictions to help bolster compliance with data protection regulations.


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