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Why Data Classification is the Perfect Complement to DLP

by Wade Barisoff on Monday July 31, 2023

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Data classification and DLP tools can certainly serve as standalone solutions, but when paired together, organizations can truly benefit from what the solutions have to offer.

In today's data-driven world, protecting sensitive information is paramount for organizations of all sizes. The ever-evolving threat landscape demands robust security measures to safeguard valuable data from falling into the wrong hands. Data loss prevention (DLP) and data classification solutions have emerged as a dynamic duo, providing organizations with an unbeatable combination to fortify their security stacks. Let's delve into why these two solutions complement each other seamlessly and enhance overall data protection.

Understanding the Essentials: Data Classification

What is Data Classification?

In a nutshell, data classification is the process of categorizing information based on its sensitivity, value, context, and potential risks. By tagging data with specific labels, organizations gain a comprehensive understanding of their data assets, enabling them to prioritize security measures and allocate resources more effectively.

I recommend that to ensure you can meet this ever-changing world of new regulations and privacy laws, you use a robust classification tool that also allows additional metadata to be added in the background when a classification label is added or go beyond just a label.


Metadata like country of origin, department, creator can then be used in simple DLP policies to help meet these ever-emerging privacy laws (US based data cannot be sent to offshore countries for example

What Does Data Classification Solve?

Data classification is a toolbox that helps create the information needed when data is in-motion, to help make better sharing decisions. 

Companies for decades have used DLP to look at content and make yes/no decisions on sharing, but the laws and regulations we now need to meet go beyond just inspecting content, source and destination matter more than ever, which is what classification can add to the equation.

Where Does DLP Fit In the Data Protection Equation?

DLP Solutions Detect and Prevent Data Breaches

Data mishandling is one of the leading causes of data breaches. With data classification, DLP systems can utilize data beyond content inspection. The rules we are trying to create now are more complex than “is there PHI or PCI data in this file,” which is what traditional DLP does. Now we can look at content and then look at classification and metadata and make much better decisions.  

By using the label and metadata that a comprehensive data classification solution can provide, organizations can increase the efficiency of their DLP tools (in some cases it can help businesses secure data that needs to be shared vs. just blocking). DLP solutions act as vigilant guardians, continuously monitoring data in use, at rest, and in transit. 

By setting up predefined policies using the information made available by a rich classification environment, DLP solutions can detect and prevent accidental sharing. For three years now, accidental sharing has topped the charts for what concerns an organization the most, and continues to be a top priority for our privacy, legal, and compliance teams. DLP solutions provide an added layer of protection against the negligent employee as well as the malicious, by identifying bad data handling activities and enforcing company policies.

DLP Solutions Preserve Your Organization’s Reputation

Data breaches not only incur financial losses but are also capable of severely damaging an organization's reputation. DLP solutions aid in preserving brand trust by ensuring that sensitive information remains secure, strengthening customer confidence in the process.

The Perfect Pair: Data Classification and DLP

DLP and Data Classification Are Needed As The Term Breach Evolves…

By now you can see that to make a DLP environment more powerful, it needs additional information to make better decisions. The decades long story of inspect for PHI/PCI and block has served us well, but now needs a change as we are responding to more than just sensitive content.  

Our legal world is evolving and will for the next decade plus, until all these privacy and data residency laws take effect. To make your company compliant, you need more information than just “is the content sensitive”.  

With that evolution the definition of a “breach” will also change. Just sending a type of content that may not be deemed sensitive via traditional DLP to an external party could be a violation. Customer rights are at the core of what we will be protecting in the future, ensuring employees are not making simple mistakes that violate those rights and create costly legal battles.

…But They Can Help Your Organization Respond to an Incident as Well

When a data breach occurs, time is of the essence. The combination of data classification and DLP empowers incident response teams with immediate insights into the sensitivity of compromised data, allowing them to prioritize actions accordingly.

Fortra’s DLP and Data Classification Solutions Work Together for Comprehensive Coverage

Data protection is a non-negotiable aspect of modern-day business operations. By leveraging the power of Fortra’s Digital Guardian DLP and Fortra Data Classification solutions, organizations can create a robust security stack that deploys and gathers results quickly, fortifies their defenses against data breaches, and scales as your organization matures. Together, they form an unyielding partnership, empowering organizations to navigate the complex cybersecurity landscape while keeping their users engaged, educated, and productive.

Incorporating our data classification and DLP solutions into your security strategy is a proactive step towards safeguarding your data and fortifying your organization's reputation as a trustworthy custodian of sensitive information. To learn more about our solutions and see them in action, chat with our experts and schedule a personalized demo today.

Tags:  Data Protection DLP Data Classification Data Centric Security

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