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Why do you need an endpoint DLP for macOS?

Companies continue to see an increase in the diversity of operating systems used to connect to their IT environments, with a particular growth in macOS. As financially motivated threat actors increasingly focus their efforts on finding and stealing sensitive data, protecting users and their devices against data loss/theft across a range of operating systems is pivotal. Here’s why you need endpoint DLP for macOS.

Increased macOS Endpoint Threats?

Partly, the growth of macOS devices in business contexts stems from hybrid work and BYOD arrangements that see employees connecting to corporate apps via Apple laptops. Businesses also favor more macOS adoption on endpoints like employee workstations because of their suitability for corporate environments. In fact, the most recent stat found macOS had a 23 percent share in enterprise environments.

However, with this growth comes increased macOS endpoint threats. While macOS laptops and workstations have a solid reputation for robust security features, the cybersecurity threats faced on these devices include:

  • macOS-specific malware to exploit vulnerabilities within the system or deceive users into granting administrative privileges (leading to data access and potential theft). Examples include threats like OSX/Shlayer and OSX/MaMi. Ransomware, such as KeRanger, can encrypt user files and demand ransom for decryption keys.
  • macOS users are targets of phishing attacks aimed at stealing credentials, financial details, or other sensitive information. These attacks occur through emails, malicious websites, or other social engineering techniques, and they often serve as the entry point for more severe attacks, including data breaches.
  • macOS, like any other operating system, can be affected by zero-day vulnerabilities—unknown exploits in the operating system’s code that the vendor (Apple) has not yet patched because they don’t know about it. These vulnerabilities are highly sought-after on the dark web and are often exploited by attackers to steal valuable data or spy on communications.
  • With the rise in data breaches, attackers often attempt to reuse stolen credentials on various platforms, including macOS services like iCloud. Brute force attacks also target weak or default user credentials to gain unauthorized access to other sensitive data.

Why Endpoint DLP for macOS?

With many modern cyber attacks focused on accessing and stealing sensitive data, it makes sense to have a dedicated solution in place that can protect your data. While Apple obviously takes security seriously, sophisticated threat actors and high volumes of attacks make it hard just for the vendor to stop all data-focused attacks. Here’s why endpoint DLP is necessary if your company has macOS endpoints connected to apps and data.

File system protection

Endpoint DLP systems integrate deeply with the macOS file system to monitor and control file access and transfers. This includes tracking when your users create, modify, copy, and delete files. Ideally, get a DLp that applies rules based on file types, content, and metadata to prevent unauthorized disclosure of sensitive info.

Content inspection and context awareness

DLP solutions use sophisticated content inspection techniques to analyze the data within files and communications in real-time. This includes regular expressions, keyword matching, and more advanced techniques like machine learning to detect sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or proprietary business data. The context-aware capabilities of DLP also allow it to understand the context in which your employees use or share data. This contextual awareness makes control measures more precise and reduces false positives for security teams who are often already overworked with other tasks.

Network traffic control

Endpoint DLP solutions monitor and control data in motion on macOS devices. This monitoring includes data being transmitted across your network, whether through email, cloud services, or other communication channels. DLP tools can block or encrypt network requests carrying sensitive data, enforce safe browsing practices, and restrict unauthorized data transmission. These capabilities are critical for those dangerous user actions that perhaps unintentionally put sensitive or regulated data at risk.

Removable storage control

macOS supports various forms of removable storage, like any other operating system. It’s also worth noting that the inclusion of USB-C and Thunderbolt ports in modern Macs makes data transfer rates are significantly high, which increases the risk of rapid data exfiltration. Endpoint DLP for macOS can enforce encryption on-the-fly for any data transferred to external devices, and can also completely block access to mountable volumes depending on the policy settings. An endpoint DLP that works on macOS can control data transfer to devices such as USB drives, external hard drives, and other removable media. You can configure custom policies to block transfers, allow only read access, or require encryption of data before transfers.

Encryption and remediation actions

Endpoint DLP solutions can enforce encryption policies directly on macOS devices. This ensures that any sensitive data stored on the device or transmitted from the device is encrypted according to your IT policies. In the case of a policy violation, the DLP can also take remedial actions, such as quarantining data or alerting admins.

Compliance benefits

On a related policy note,  endpoint DLP for macOS helps you comply with regulatory frameworks such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS by enforcing policies that protect sensitive information and by logging and reporting on data access and transfer activities. These logs are crucial for auditing and compliance verification when the authorities come looking for proof.

Application control

macOS is known for its rich app ecosystem. DLP solutions can integrate with macOS’s System Extensions and Network Extensions frameworks to monitor application behaviors and control interactions with sensitive data. This includes preventing unauthorized applications from accessing or processing sensitive information and ensuring that applications adhere to any data handling policies you have in place.

Protect your macOS suite with Endpoint Protector

Endpoint Protector is a robust endpoint DLP solution that works on macOS to not only protect sensitive data against loss or theft but also help your business better adapt to an evolving security landscape where mobility, remote work, and mixed-use devices are common. The technical integration and policy enforcement capabilities of Endpoint Protector maintain the integrity and confidentiality of corporate data on any macOS systems connected to your environment.

Learn more here about macOS-specific features.


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