The Growing Importance of Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Your company’s data contains the most sensitive information about your operations. Unfortunately, the digital-first work landscape has made it easier than ever for your data to be lost, misused or even exploited by malicious actors. The rise of remote and hybrid work, for example, has increased network vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Allowing sensitive data to fall into the wrong hands can cripple any organization. Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions can help your business ensure your data is safe.

To better understand the importance of DLP, you’ll first need to understand how it works, why it’s necessary, and strategies and technology to reduce data loss incidents.

What is DLP?

Microsoft defines data loss prevention as, “a security solution that identifies and helps prevent unsafe or inappropriate sharing, transfer or use of sensitive data.” DLP protects data by gaining insights into where, why and how that data is used.
A comprehensive DLP solution involves people, processes and technology that come together to act as safeguards around sensitive data.

A DLP solution:

  • Classifies and monitors sensitive data
  • Detects and blocks suspicious activity
  • Automates data classification
  • Monitors data access and usage
  • Improves visibility and control
  • Maintains regulatory compliance

A crucial component of DLP is ensuring users are not able to share sensitive information outside of an organization’s network either intentionally or in error.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Data Loss?

DLP solutions combat the most frequent threats to an organization’s sensitive information, including:


A cyberattack is an intentional attempt to gain unauthorized access to systems to steal, modify or destroy data. The most common examples of cyberattacks include ransomware, spyware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Malware and phishing are also cyberattacks designed to trick people into revealing sensitive data or release a virus onto a company’s network.

In 2022, cyberattacks were the most common cause of data loss events, according to Databarracks. 2022 was the first year that cyberattacks overtook human error as the leading cause of data loss events.

DLP solutions guard against cyberattacks by monitoring, protecting and restricting the use of sensitive data on a network, ultimately preventing unauthorized access.

Unintentional exposure

Unintentional exposure of data is the result of a mistake made by an authorized network user. In many cases, an unintentional exposure incident will be the result of a network user falling for a phishing attack.

A comprehensive DLP strategy guards against this by ensuring all network users are fully up to date on cybersecurity policies, and also by limiting which users have access to what data.

Insider Risks

Another common cause of data loss is the intentional misuse or exploitation of data by approved users of a network. Insider risks are employees or internal members of an organization who intentionally share, steal or otherwise misuse sensitive data with the intention of doing damage to an organization.

Are Remote Organizations at Increased Risk for Data Loss Incidents?

In short, yes. Data loss incidents have been consistently on the rise since the beginning of the work from home boom in 2020. In addition to high-profile data loss incidents that hurt millions of people around the globe, a record total of data breaches occurred in 2021 for companies in the United States.

But as threats have increased, so too has investment in DLP solutions. This means organizations are beginning to get ahead by taking preventative measures and securing their information.

How Can Your Organization Prevent Data Loss?

If you don’t take action to prevent data loss incidents, your business risks:

  • The high cost of resolving a data loss incident. The average cost of a data breach exceeds $4.2 million, according to IBM.
  • Downtime can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars for a small company, and hundreds of thousands for a larger one.
  • Lost revenue due to lost trust. Data loss incidents can hurt brand reputation, which also costs time and money to repair.

For best results, your organization should connect with a team of professionals that specialize in understanding how to implement a DLP solution.

Our team of experts at Sikich are dedicated to helping your organization implement a data loss prevention solution that works for your needs.

Contact our experts today to learn more.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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