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Data Loss Prevention: How to Protect Your Data from Criminals and Yourself plus a List of the 7 Best DLP tools in the market!

Published: July 20, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

The title image for Data Loss Prevention: How to Protect Your Data from Criminals and Yourself plus a List of the 7 Best DLP tools in the market! showing an eraser removing data

Have you ever wished for a tool that could keep your data safe without your oversight? Or maybe accidentally deleted a client file worth quite a few hours of work and money? You, my friend, need a Data Loss Prevention system or DLP that can save you from just this.

A Data Loss Prevention system or DLP functions to protect and secure the data in your system from malicious attacks, accidental deletion, corruption and even leaks. Data being as valuable as it is today, DLP software is a must-have if you work in a highly data-dependent environment.

In this article, I will walk you through what Data Loss Prevention is, why it is important, and then share a few DLP tools in the market that I feel are the best and most suited for your requirement.

 

7 Best DLP tools


DLP Software Platform Supported Price Rating (Out of 10)
Code42 Windows, macOS & Linux $10/month 10
Digital Guardian Endpoint DLP Windows, macOS, & Linux $110/user 10
SecureTrust DLP Windows, macOS, & Linux Quote from Website 9
Symantec Windows & macOS $96/year 8
Check Point DLP Windows, macOS, & Linux $3,000/year 8
Trend Micro DLP Windows & macOS $24/user 7
McAfee DLP Windows & macOS $94.99 7


Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

In a nutshell, Data Loss Prevention is the process of keeping all your data secure. It involves detecting data breaches, exfiltration of data, and unwanted destruction/deletion of sensitive data. Enterprises and MNCs use DLP software to protect their sensitive data such as employee, client or organisational data.

Permanent deletion of data from a computer

While the organisational applications of DLP software are plenty, I am more bothered about its applications for individuals such as you and me. Individuals are more interested in the protection of data from accidental deletion.

Data Loss is usually classified into two categories, namely – Leakage and Disappearance or Damage.

  1. Leakage is when the data is no longer in control of or is confidential to the owner of the data or anyone authorised by the owner.
  2. Damage or disappearance, on the other hand, is when the authentic data is no longer available for access to the people who require it.

Non-availability or unauthorised data access would be very dangerous, especially when the data is extremely sensitive, like your credit card information, bank credentials, social security data etc. It could also include data such as media for entertainment, work files, and something as simple as photos of your loved ones stored on your computer.

DLP Functional types as implemented by most solutions depicted in an image

Image Source – devicelock.com

A leak of such data would allow malicious parties to be able to impersonate you, gain access to your financials and much more information. On the other hand, the damage or disappearance of such data would lead to you not accessing these resources that you own.


Do I Need a Data Loss Prevention or DLP for My Data?

No matter who you are or what you do, you consume some form of data on a daily basis. Whether you are a data scientist working with artificial intelligence systems, or a simple movie critic watching and writing movie reviews, data is integral in everyone’s day-to-day life.

Different types of data that are used by various data-dependent industries

Image Source – “Technological Architecture Proposal for Open Government Data using CKAN Proposition” scholarly paper [by Walter Hugo Arboleda Mazo & Edwin Montoya]

Any loss or damage to this data is bound to create a lot of trouble, be it financial issues or personal inconveniences. With the level of sophistication in daily technology, such loss of data will not only impact one aspect but will also propagate to other facets of importance.

I have a bunch of statistics explaining the costs and consequences of such data loss, but I don't think that is why you're reading this. So let me just cut it short and explain the core idea.

Basically, a DLP software or the concept itself protects your data from being stolen by a hacker or even accidentally deleted by you or anyone using your computer. It isn't important what sort of data was lost; just the fact that it was lost is of significance.

One part that I would like to stress here is a DLP tool IS NOT a data recovery tool. It CAN NOT recover any data that you deleted; it will only allow you to protect your data from such accidental deletion in the future. To recover deleted data, you would need a 'data recovery tool', which is a whole other article.

Now, allow me to introduce to you some of the best DLP tools in the market, which I personally prefer using.


7 Best Data Loss Prevention Programs for You

  1. Code42
  2. Digital Guardian Endpoint DLP
  3. SecureTrust DLP
  4. Symantec
  5. Check Point DLP
  6. Trend Micro IDLP
  7. McAfee Total Protection for DLP

Data Loss Prevention or DLP software allows you to protect and safeguard your data from leaks or damages that might be malicious or merely accidental. Below are the best 7 tools and software available in the current market that will allow you to do the same with your data.

1. Code42

Recommended for medium scale businesses as well as personal use

The Code42 DLP User Interface

Image Source – code42.com

Unlike many other DLP tools, the Code42 DLP software doesn’t work using a system of policies. Instead, it works like a SIEM tool using various log information collected from a variety of sources in the system/network.

The Code42 system records all activity that takes place in your system and generates an audit file that can be checked in case of leaks. It even gives you access to an analysis utility that can present these data threats and log information in an understandable form.

Why I like the Code42 DLP is this reason exactly, due to its double function as acting like a SIEM, you could literally use it to detect threats and intrusions in the system, which adds an additional layer of security to protect your data.

As far as usability goes, I personally feel like the tool could work well in a small business or even for personal uses, that is, as long as you're ready to learn using it, it does have quite the steep learning curve.

The price is a bit high, to be honest, but for the dual functionality offered by Code42 to also function as a SIEM, I'd say it is well worth the price and is very cost-efficient.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$10/month

Windows, macOS & Linux

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Continuously keeps monitoring any and all changes to data
  • Allows multiple data backups using a single user account
  • Cloud backup available
  • Protect confidential information through quarantine
  • The steep learning curve for new users

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Email alerts for any known issues to the data in the system
  • Provides ransomware protection
  • Doubles as a SIEM (Security Information & Event Management) software

2. Digital Guardian Endpoint DLP

Recommended for personal and enterprise use

The Digital Guardian policy violation reports

Image Source – digitalguardian.com

The Digital Guardian Endpoint DLP is an endpoint protection software that is suitable for intellectual property protection as well as personal information. It has the ability to classify all data based on the user, content and context of the data.

Being a Software as a Service or SaaS application, it can be deployed quickly and with adaptable, on-demand scalability.

As always, the one aspect of the software that I enjoyed was the highly granular control that the software provides over the data, with restrictions that can be imposed on the size and type of data being manipulated. The software can even assign access controls and encryption to removable and peripheral data devices or media.

While some might say that the Digital Guardian DLP is the suite for a corporate setting, I would say that you can even use it for your personal needs. Like mentioned before, being a SaaS application, it offers good customer support as well as quick deployment.

The only issue I found was the bit more than few false positives that were reported by the software, which at times becomes quite annoying.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$110/user

Windows, macOS & Linux

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Allows granular control over all data in the system
  • Works even when offline
  • Advanced data classification system
  • Excessive number of false positives
  • Issues with plugins

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Supports cross-platform, browser-based applications, and native applications
  • Risk policy informs on the flow of sensitive data
  • Data can be classified based on user, content, and context

3. SecureTrust DLP

Recommended for small to large scale businesses with low DLP experience

The Data discovery tool in the SecureTrust DLP

Image Source – securetrust.com

The SecureTrust DLP is one of those DLPs that gives attention to details; it monitors all web-based documents, including email attachments, social media posts, media for entertainment etc., in the incoming data stream for any policy violations or non-compliance.

Personally, I have felt that the SecureTrust DLP might make a perfect choice if you don’t have much experience or expertise in DLP. The software comes pre-installed with over 70 different preset policies that can put to use right away. You can simply read the description provided under these policies to understand what they do.

Another interesting feature of the software is the Intelligent Content Control Engine, which can help you or your security team discover sensitive data. This allows you to take necessary precautions and draft policies accordingly to protect this data.

While not ideally meant for personal use, it would be quite a comprehensive tool for small to large scale businesses that do not have a lot of experience in DLP.

The tool could, however, use quite some work to be put into the UI/UX department. The software is quite clunky and jittery, especially when it comes to reporting systems. It also isn't the best out there in terms of user-friendliness either.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

Quote from Website

Windows, macOS & Linux

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Over 70 different policies available that can be used right away
  • Can work and integrate with the Clearswift SIEM tool to improve security capabilities
  • Advanced Content Control, Investigation Management, and Real-Time identity match
  • A reporting system is a bit clunky during customisations
  • Data visualisations are fairly limited, and UI is not very user-friendly

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Intelligent Content Control Engine that can allow the security team to discover sensitive data and potential threats
  • Can block HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP traffic if they violate policies
  • Can scan multiple channels for any unauthorised or inappropriate data access

4. Symantec

Best for enterprise or organisation level systems

The User Interface of the Symantec DLP

Image Source – help.symantec.com

Symantec’s DLP tool uses data risk controls and monitors user activity to manage data protection. This means that the Symantec tool will keep transferred logs of your activity and data to ensure that your data isn't leaked and/or damaged.

It also gives you complete control over your data, with logs stored of all accesses made to the data as well as the accounts that accessed it.

The Symantec DLP is an endpoint protection system that detects any intrusions or malware in your system that could compromise the data. It can also block, quarantine and alert about anything that might lead to data compromise in real-time.

The bottom line is that I would recommend you purchasing this with second thoughts. The tool will guarantee to protect your data from any and all threats and ensure it doesn't leak or get damaged by anything.

But one thing I would add is that you should consider purchasing this only if the data you're trying to protect is valuable and important in some way; just don't use it to protect random files. The tool is, at the end of the day, meant for an enterprise environment.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$96/year

Windows & macOS

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Confidential information is protected by putting it in quarantine
  • While confidential data is transmitted over the network, the network traffic is carefully monitored for threats
  • Requires learning Symantec DLP's scripting language for Custom Scripts
  • Tight integration with Symantec products making it difficult to work with other products

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Prevents the transmission of sensitive data to locations outside the approved area
  • Automatically enforce data security and encryption policies
  • Network Monitor Server monitors the traffic on your network.

5. Check Point DLP

Best suited for large businesses and enterprises

The User Interface of the Check Point DLP

Image Source – checkpoint.com

Check Point, being one of the largest cybersecurity providers in the world, also has one of the most utility-based DLP software. The reason why I quite enjoy using the Check Point DLP is for the simple fact that it educates a user about the risks involved in data loss.

A feature this basic and simple has a powerful impact on the information security of a system. If a user can be made aware of how data can be leaked, lost or be damaged, they can themselves take evasive actions and precautions against these. Furthermore, improving awareness about data security always comes in handy in the long run in a data-dependent environment.

As a DLP, the CheckPoint software provides a great deal of support to deploy the data protection scheme, as it has a wide array of preset policies available that can be deployed right away.

One feature I found quite peculiar was that the Check Point DLP software, in case of a policy violation, rather than alerting the security team in charge, sends a warning directly to the user about the aforementioned violation.

While this might seem like a neat feature at first, on further thought, it is quite troublesome. If in case a hacker is trying to gain access to my data and is violating the policies that I have set in place to protect it, I don’t want my DLP to send the hacker a warning. I would instead want it to block access to the data and alert me about this policy violation.

If this detail doesn’t matter to you, I would say, definitely go for the Check Point DLP, but only if you are a large business as the software might not be very suitable for personal use or small businesses due to its price.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$3,000/year

Windows, macOS & Linux

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Email scanning and restriction to prevent accidental data leaks
  • Supports all major compliance standards
  • Increases user awareness about data loss risks
  • Policies are difficult to customise
  • User Interface quite cluttered and difficult to follow
  • Directly sends a warning to a user, which might be not required by a sysadmin if present.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Scans and secures SSL/TLS traffic
  • Tracks all DLP events
  • Mitigates incidents in real-time

6.Trend Micro DLP

Best suited for personal or small-scale businesses

The Trend Micro DLP User Interface showing a list of restrictions to USB devices

Image Source – trendmicro.com

The TrendMicro DLP software is a lightweight tool that allows you to control and protect your data to prevent data loss through USBs, Email, cloud storage, mobile devices, or even SaaS applications. It can basically restrict the functionality of such devices by limiting what they can be used for in the system in question.

In simple terms, you, as the owner of data, can decide how such peripheral devices and applications can interact with and manipulate your data.

The Trend Micro DLP tool basically consists of two parts – a management server and a piece of endpoint software.

  • Management Server: Provides central control and deals with enforcement of protection policies for the data
  • Endpoint Software: Manages the communication with the policy server and also enforces it on the endpoint system

I found especially attractive about Trend Micro DLP because it makes the creation of new policies relatively easy and straightforward, allowing anyone with basic knowledge to do it. It also comes with a few ready-made templates for compliance policies allowing instant deployment right after installation.

I would say it is quite a good option if you are looking for an easy-to-use solution that can be deployed with ease.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$24/user

Windows & macOS

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Immediate deployment and easy use
  • Implement controls for compliance with policies
  • Can detect improper data usage by logging the keywords, regular expressions and file attributes used
  • Can’t remote reboot
  • Bad user interface and not user friendly
  • Consumes high resources

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • Allows automation of responses to policy violations
  • Can log, bypass, lock, encrypt, alert, modify, quarantine, or delete in case of a data breach

7. McAfee Total Protection for DLP

Best for small businesses and personal use

The McAfee DLP user Interface showing the About details of the deployed software

Image Source – mcafee.com

The McAfee Total Protection DLP is a comprehensive tool in the market that offers complete control over data allowing you to view all data manipulations or leaks. It also has a centralised system that allows you to manage all reports, policy violations and even creates new system policies for the DLP.

It can protect data stored in various sources such as networks, cloud storage as well as endpoint systems/devices.

What I found interesting about the tool is the ‘Discovery mode’ offered by the tool. The discovery mode can scan all the resources, such as applications or storage, in the system to find any sensitive data that can be compromised and any potential risks in the system.

I personally felt this feature works kind of like a SIEM, without any log scanning, to detect and avoid any potential leaks, compromise, and damage to the data.

Being a one-time payment, I believe the McAfee DLP is quite suitable for personal uses as well as small to medium-sized businesses since it has almost all the functionalities that you'd need in a DLP. It does have more than a few false positive hits, but it can be avoided by creating better policies.


$$$ PRICE

PLATFORM

$94.99

Windows & macOS

+++ PROS

--- CONS

  • Allows to see a movement of data and how it is used/leaked
  • Data transmissions that violate policies can be blocked, redirected, quarantined or encrypted
  • Good reporting capabilities
  • Consumes too many resources and is heavy on the RAM
  • Steep learning curve
  • Too many false positives

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • A centralised system to manage all violations and reports as well as create new policies
  • Automated reporting
  • Handy ‘discovery mode’ that can scan various resources for sensitive data and potential risks


Conclusion

In the above article, we explored the concept of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and its importance in day-to-day life. Finally, we went on to look at the 7 DLP tools in the market that I thought would be best suited for your needs.

I can't stress enough the importance of data and why keeping it safe should be the primary goal of any system or individual that consumes or produces data. DLP software aims to do just this by making the lives of the users and owners of the data much more effortless and limiting the manual labour and hours spent to keep data safe.

Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

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