Cloud Data Loss Prevention: Benefits, Best Practices, Features



Jan 23, 2024

cloud data loss prevetnion

Gartner forecast user spending on cloud services to jump by 20.7% in a year – from 2022 to 2023. Given that cloud helps to drive faster time to market, increases flexibility, and reduces operational costs, this number is not unexpected. However, cloud computing is not free from challenges like data loss. Thankfully, cloud data loss prevention techniques help you avoid it. 

What is cloud data loss prevention?

Cloud data loss prevention is a cybersecurity strategy that protects sensitive or business critical data from malicious attacks, accidental disclosure, or unauthorized transfer.

Cloud DLP solutions help to maintain data confidentiality and comply with security regulations like HIPAA, GDPR, and NIST.

How does cloud data loss prevention work?

Cloud data loss prevention solutions work by detecting and classifying sensitive content in cloud repositories like files, applications, images, or codes. It scans data at rest, in use, or in transit and prevents data loss using protection controls. It provides org-wide visibility and protects live traffic using a library of predefined or custom data to identify data leakage. 

DLP cloud solutions help identify structured and unstructured data hosted on your cloud. Then it transforms it using obfuscation and de-identification techniques like masking, encryption, and tokenization to reduce data risks. 

Cloud DLP also helps you re-identify de-identified data. By running re-identification analysis, you gain deep insight into data privacy risks. Lets understand with an example. 

If you run a healthcare business in the United States or provide a service to one, HIPAA is mandatory as your employee’s process or transmit patient’s personal data. 

This data qualifies as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) if it can be used in itself or in combination to identify an individual. 

If the PII includes identifiers such as zip code, street name, or age. While a single identifier cannot be used to identify an individual, a combination can narrow it down to a person. This puts that individual at risk of being identified.

Why do you need cloud-based data loss prevention?

Cloud data loss prevention is crucial to protect sensitive customer information or business critical data, minimize insider attacks, and avoid data loss due to accidental or unintentional leakage. 

More businesses are moving their infrastructure to the cloud, thanks to higher scalability, enhanced flexibility, and higher accessibility. 

However, this process shift is not all pros – threats like non-compliance, loss of critical data, unauthorized activities, and malicious attacks lurk the cloud. 

Cloud based DLP solutions help IT teams combat these threats by offering: 

Data security

Cloud data loss prevention solutions prevent all types of data loss using predefined security policies. You can configure the policies to determine who can access data, where it should be stored, rules for using it, and the security controls around it. 

Another way cloud DLP solutions protect data is by using de-identification techniques like encryption. This protects sensitive data in transition, at rest, and in use by allowing only authorized users to access it. 

More visibility

Security teams can ensure that users comply with your defined policies through continuous visibility across system data flow. Cloud data loss prevention solutions automate key functions to enhance visibility like identifying sensitive data, providing insight into who accesses an authorized or unauthorized system, tracking user logs, and even blocking unprivileged access. 

Continuous compliance

If your system processes or manages sensitive customer data or business intellectual property, one or more compulsory data protection regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, CCPA, or GDPR may apply. 

Even if no mandatory regulatory framework applies to your business, many CISOs adopt good to have frameworks like ISO 27001 or SOC 2 to gain a competitive edge. 

Some common requirements of security frameworks include data encryption, access management, and data risk management. DLP solutions scan systems to help you identify data that are prone to risks or not compliant so you can take appropriate actions to secure them.

Sprinto helps you achieve continuous compliance against selected security standards by automatically connecting with your cloud and monitoring controls 24*7 to identify non compliant behavior.

Cloud data loss prevention best practices

Cloud data loss prevention techniques work on a combination of five major best practices. These include: 

Triage data

First things first, identify the types of data in your infrastructure based on its level of sensitivity, who has access, who created it, where it is used, and the type. 

This will help you understand and estimate the impact of its loss and thereby prioritize the most critical data to minimize loss during a compromise. 

Implement protection techniques

Once you have identified, triaged, and prioritized the data, protect them using various security measures and controls. 

The most common protection technique in cloud DLP is data encryption. It involves scrambling data into an unreadable code that can be unscrambled using a decryption key. 

Data encryption protects sensitive information from unauthorized access. Moreover, it is a requirement by many regulations like PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA (recommended if a risk analysis shows it is an appropriate measure to fix a gap). 

Train your employees

The post pandemic world introduced an unprecedented number of security complexities and risks in the digital world. Internal threats like malicious insider attacks, access control mismanagement, data transfer over insecure networks, and data loss to human error add to the existing security risks. 

You can combat and minimize these risks by training your employees. Each internal user and stakeholder should familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions for handling sensitive information. 

Conduct sessions to help them understand security best practices, company policies, and the applicable compliance requirements. 

Access control

Access control management is a critical security component that helps maintain the right balance between privilege misuse and accessibility. By defining who can access what, how much, and change which data, you can limit access privilege misuse. 

Malicious actors can exploit your sensitive data to their advantage only when they gain unauthorized access. You can block or limit access using security measures like Multi Factor Authentication (MFA), password protection, and regularity monitoring log attempts. 

Implement incident response systems

Preventive and defensive security measures and controls are not a guarantee against breach attempts. These have limitations and breaches can occur no matter how strong your posture is. This necessitates the need to have incident response systems in place, to handle what if situations. 

Incident response solutions help you contain breaches before they infect connected systems. Once it identifies a breach attempt, it notifies the system administrator, aids you in conducting forensic investigations, and remediates to prevent future incidents.

Get A Real Time View Of Risk

Important features of cloud data loss prevention solutions

Cloud data loss prevention solutions are designed to protect the data hosted on your cloud from unauthorized access or unintentional leakage. Such systems come baked with these capabilities:

Data intelligence: As you continuously feed large volumes of data into the cloud storage, the risk exposure necessitates security assessments to identify malicious activity and policy violations.

Data intelligence helps you reduce false positives, prioritize threats, identify suspicious activities or anomalous behavior, and conduct investigations.

Data discovery and triage: As we discussed before, data classification is the first step to protecting the cloud environment of your entire organization. 

It gives you complete visibility over the sensitive files, security posture, and compliance progress to help you create custom enterprise policies. 

Data de-identification: Data masking or encryption techniques helps you block unauthorized users and minimize insider threats by rendering the data unreadable. 

DLP tools like Google Cloud security services help you implement dynamic masking policies to secure PII like credit cards.  


How does cloud storage prevent data loss?

Cloud storage practices like regular backups, data encryption, privileged access, and incident response systems, and disaster recovery plans help to detect suspicious behavior, block phishing attacks, and avoid security risks.  

What are the DLP rules in Google cloud?

DLP rules in Google cloud work by implementing pre-defined policies that prevent unauthorized users from accessing, disclosing, or transmitting sensitive data. 

What is the difference between data loss prevention and data leakage prevention?

While the terms data loss prevention and data leakage prevention are often used interchangeably, a subtle difference is that while the former focuses on managing active internal and external threats, the latter involves managing data flow within the organization’s perimeter. 



Anwita is a cybersecurity enthusiast and veteran blogger all rolled into one. Her love for everything cybersecurity started her journey into the world compliance. With multiple certifications on cybersecurity under her belt, she aims to simplify complex security related topics for all audiences. She loves to read nonfiction, listen to progressive rock, and watches sitcoms on the weekends.

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