In our last post we talked about prepping for deployment- setting expectations, prioritizing, integrating with the infrastructure, and defining workflow. Now it’s time to get out of the lab and get our hands dirty.

Today we’re going to move beyond planning into deployment.

  1. Integrate with your infrastructure: Endpoint DLP tools require integration with a few different infrastructure elements. First, if you are using a full DLP suite, figure out if you need to perform any extra integration before moving to endpoint deployments. Some suites OEM the endpoint agent and you may need some additional components to get up and running. In other cases, you’ll need to plan capacity and possibly deploy additional servers to handle the endpoint load. Next, integrate with your directory infrastructure if you haven’t already. Determine if you need any additional information to tie users to devices (in most cases, this is built into the tool and its directory integration components).
  2. Integrate on the endpoint: In your preparatory steps you should have performed testing to be comfortable that the agent is compatible with your standard images and other workstation configurations. Now you need to add the agent to the production images and prepare deployment packages. Don’t forget to configure the agent before deployment, especially the home server location and how much space and resources to use on the endpoint. Depending on your tool, this may be managed after initial deployment by your management server.
  3. Deploy agents to initial workgroups: You’ll want to start with a limited deployment before rolling out to the larger enterprise. Pick a workgroup where you can test your initial policies.
  4. Build initial policies: For your first deployment, you should start with a small subset of policies, or even a single policy, in alert or content classification/discovery mode (where the tool reports on sensitive data, but doesn’t generate policy violations).
  5. Baseline, then expand deployment: Deploy your initial policies to the starting workgroup. Try to roll the policies out one monitoring/enforcement mode at a time, e.g., start with endpoint discovery, then move to USB blocking, then add network alerting, then blocking, and so on. Once you have a good feel for the effectiveness of the policies, performance, and enterprise integration, you can expand into a wider deployment, covering more of the enterprise. After the first few you’ll have a good understanding of how quickly, and how widely, you can roll out new policies.
  6. Tune policies: Even stable policies may require tuning over time. In some cases it’s to improve effectiveness, in others to reduce false positives, and in still other cases to adapt to evolving business needs. You’ll want to initially tune policies during baselining, but continue to tune them as the deployment expands. Most DLP clients report that they don’t spend much time tuning policies after baselining, but it’s always a good idea to keep your policies current with enterprise needs.
  7. Add enforcement/protection: By this point you should understand the effectiveness of your policies, and have educated users where you’ve found policy violations. You can now start switching to enforcement or protective actions, such as blocking, network filtering, or encryption of files. It’s important to notify users of enforcement actions as they occur, otherwise you might frustrate them u ecessarily. If you’re making a major change to established business process, consider scaling out enforcement options on a business unit by business unit basis (e.g., restricting access to a common content type to meet a new compliance need).

Deploying endpoint DLP isn’t really very difficult; the most common mistake enterprises make is deploying agents and policies too widely, too quickly. When you combine a new endpoint agent with intrusive enforcement actions that interfere (positively or negatively) with people’s work habits, you risk grumpy employees and political backlash. Most organizations find that a staged rollout of agents, followed by first deploying monitoring policies before moving into enforcement, then a staged rollout of policies, is the most effective approach.