Companies worldwide spend billions of dollars on endpoint data loss prevention (DLP) technology, hoping that it will be their answer to intellectual property protection. In theory, it’s a good idea. There’s just one big problem: it doesn’t work.
A lot of the companies we meet are really happy with web and email DLP, but are pretty much fed up with endpoint DLP. Every day, a member of our team meets a company who wants to rip out DLP in frustration after encountering troubled installations, bogged down networks, and hundreds of high-maintenance rules.
So, what’s the answer? More and more, organizations are turning to an alternative: endpoint visibility. You may be surprised to find out that endpoint monitoring and behavioral analytics can give you more effective results for a lot less pain. It sounds unconventional, but in the end, it makes a lot of sense. Here’s why:
1. DLP Lacks Visibility
What files were on a lost laptop? What data did a user take when they resigned? How many people try to use USB devices on a daily basis? Security teams are asked questions like this every day. A lot of times, you 100% need these answers to maintain security effectively – it’s just non negotiable. But it’s surprisingly difficult (and sometimes impossible, depending on your configuration and alerting levels) to get answers to these basic questions from endpoint DLP. Without this information, there’s no way that you can effectively stop the insider threat – or even know what your threats are at all.
…But for Endpoint Visibility, it’s the name of the game
When it comes to endpoint visibility solutions, information is what it’s all about – it’s right there in the name. Without this visibility, you’ll never be able to really know what’s happening within your organization. You won’t be able to fight your threats, or even know what your threats are, if you’re blindfolded.
2. DLP rules are complex
Endpoint DLP deployments require complex rules and policies to be effective. Setting these up is a massive time and money investment, and maintenance is just as demanding. Most organizations just can’t afford the large team it takes to do this configuration and management. Some turn to expensive external vendors, but most simply fall back to a few basic, intrusive rules(like “block all USB devices” or “no usage of Facebook”). Broad, overly-simplified constraints like this render DLP basically useless. Even worse, they cripple employee productivity through heavy restrictions.
…But Endpoint Visibility is Simple
A good endpoint visibility solution will require very little configuration and will come with analytics based on proven human behavioral patterns. It doesn’t require hours upon hours of work to set up, and it’s effectiveness doesn’t depend on constant human intervention. This means that it won’t bog down your IT personnel and will be effective even with minimal time investment.
3. DLP is Heavy
Endpoint DLP uses heavyweight agents that bog down computers and choke networks. On top of that, they require massive server installations. Lots of companies we meet tell us about ripping out DLP even after limited installations fail.
…But Endpoint Visibility is Light
The right endpoint visibility solution is lightweight. You should be able to install it and start getting visibility in a couple of hours. It’ll take up very little space on the endpoint and have a minimal network impact – ideally, your employees won’t even be able to tell once it’s been installed because its performance impact is so miniscule. Plus, its tiny size means painless installations.
4. DLP is Unfair
Endpoint DLP punishes everyone for the crimes of the few, and it treats innocent employees as if they’re guilty. This causes a massive drop in morale – employees who are constantly restricted and questioned are going to get fed up with feeling like criminals. Plus, heavy restrictions actually encourage good employees to find workarounds in order to get their jobs done more efficiently. Oftentimes, these workarounds end up causing even more headaches.
…But Endpoint Visibility is about knowledge, not punishment.
General restriction is never as effective as proactive, targeted response. Endpoint monitoring allows you to employ a “Trust by verify” management style. Instead of punishing everyone in a blind attempt to protect yourself, you can identify specifically who’s intentionally defying security or accidentally making harmful mistakes. This means that you can educate or discipline those specific employees while leaving the rest of your team to do their jobs with minimal interference.
5. DLP Misses a Lot
In nearly every risk assessment we perform, we find DLP systems that aren’t performing as they should be. DLP tells you what it catches, but you have no way of identifying and learning from what it’s missing. Plus, DLP’s complex rules makes it very easy to miss when policies are not configured correctly or when large groups of users simply don’t have DLP installed. That’s a lot to leave up to chance.
…But Endpoint Visibility shows you everything you need.
Some people combat this problem by relying on log files, but log files miss even basic information about what employees do on an endpoint. What if someone prints to a local printer? Or copies a file to a brand new cloud service when they’re off the corporate network? Or even does something simple like renaming files to cover their tracks? A good endpoint visibility solution not only gives you the information that you need about user behavior, but it also acts as a great way to know which security measures are working and which aren’t. It allows you to see the full state of your enterprise.
6. DLP Violates Privacy
Endpoint DLP systems read the contents of files, emails, and websites that your employees use. This means that it captures personal and confidential data that companies really don’t have any business collecting or managing.
…But Endpoint Visibility can be privacy compliant
Employees have a right to privacy. At the same time, there needs to be some level of verification happening, even if you do have faith in your employees. A privacy compliant endpoint monitoring solution aggregates and anonymizes data, providing the best of both worlds: a system that protects both your security and your employees’ privacy.
Ultimately, Endpoint DLP Leaves Gaps.
We’ve established that DLP is a ton of effort, eating up time and money to set up and maintain – and we haven’t even gotten to the worst part. The final nail in the coffin: even after all that, it’s still pretty easy for employees to take data out of the organization. The steady rise of “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies and cloud services have made organizations more porous, not more secure – and rigid endpoint DLP technologies just can’t keep up. Plus, it only takes small configuration mistakes to create gaping holes in your security system. For most of the organizations we’ve spoken to, this puts them over the edge. They couldn’t justify the massive sacrifices in manpower, endpoint speed, and employee morale all for something that didn’t work anyway.
Endpoint DLP does have a place. It’s perfect to use in small, high risk areas of the business, on a targeted basis, to manage known risks. As a whole, though, the industry is trying to use endpoint DLP as a pervasive, blanket control against insider threat, and it’s just not up to the task.
Endpoint Visibility as a Replacement
More and more, enterprises are accepting that endpoint DLP is never going to be the solution that they want it to be. Ultimately, the immense time, effort and money put into managing it becomes more than most organizations can bear.
Now, it’s becoming increasingly accepted that an endpoint visibility solution accomplishes everything that you’re trying to get from an endpoint DLP solution, and does it better. It’s the next generation of data loss prevention – more elegant, less intrusive, easier to manage, and more effective. With visibility and the right behavioral analytics, you can pinpoint suspicious behavior without ever having a need to do company-wide lockdowns. You’ll be making more informed decisions and you’ll be giving your employees a much better – and more productive – working experience. It may be different, but it’s forward-thinking. The future is in knowledge and analytics, not rules and restrictions.
Ready to drop your endpoint DLP in favor of the more elegant solution? We’ll be happy to help you out! Contact us today to try it out in your organization.