Map Your Environment

No matter which DLP process you select, before you can begin the actual implementation you need to map out your network, storage infrastructure, and/or endpoints. You will use the map to determine where to push out the DLP components.

  1. Network: You don’t need a complete and detailed topographical map of your network, but you do need to identify a few key components.
    1. All egress points. These are where you will connect DLP monitors to a SPAN or mirror port, or install DLP inline.
    2. Email servers and MTAs (Mail Transport Agents). Most DLP tools include their own MTA which you simply add as a hop in your mail chain, so you need to understand that chain.
    3. Web proxies/gateways. If you plan on sniffing at the web gateway you’ll need to know where these are and how they are configured. DLP typically uses the ICAP protocol to integrate. Also, if your web proxy doesn’t intercept SSL… buy a different proxy. Monitoring web traffic without SSL is nearly worthless these days.
    4. Any other proxies you might integrate with, such as instant messaging gateways.
  2. Storage: Put together a list of all storage repositories you want to scan. The list should include the operating system type, file shares / connection types, owners, and login credentials for remote scanning. If you plan to install agents test compatibility on test/development systems.
  3. Endpoints: This one can be more time consuming. You need to compile a list of endpoint architectures and deployments – preferably from whatever endpoint management tool you already use for things like configuration and software updates. Mapping machine groups to user and business groups makes it easier to deploy endpoint DLP by business units. You need system configuration information for compatibility and testing. As an example, as of this writing no DLP tool supports Macs so you might have to rely on network DLP or exposing local file shares to monitor and scan them.

You don’t need to map out every piece of every component unless you’re doing your entire DLP deployment at once. Focus on the locations and infrastructure needed to support the project priorities you established earlier.

Test and Proof of Concept

Many of you perform extensive testing or a full proof of concept during the selection process, but even if you did it’s still important to push down a layer deeper, now that you have more detailed deployment requirements and priorities.

Include the following in your testing:

  • For all architectures: Test a variety of policies that resemble the kinds you expect to deploy, even if you start with dummy data. This is very important for testing performance – there are massive differences between using something like a regular expression to look for credit card numbers vs. database matching against hashes of 10 million real credit card numbers. And test mixes of policies to see how your tool supports multiple policies simultaneously, and to verify which policies each component supports – for example, endpoint DLP is generally far more limited in the types and sizes of policies it supports. If you have completed directory server integration, test it to ensure policy violations tie back to real users. Finally, practice with the user interface and workflow before you start trying to investigate live incidents.
  • Network: Integrate out-of-band and confirm your DLP tool is watching the right ports and protocols, and can keep up with traffic. Test integration – including email, web gateways, and any other proxies. Even if you plan to deploy inline (common in SMB) start by testing out-of-band.
  • Storage: If you plan to use any agents on servers or integrated with NAS or a document management system, test them in a lab environment first for performance impact. If you will use network scanning, test for performance and network impact.
  • Endpoint: Endpoints often require the most testing due to the diversity of configurations in most organizations, the more-limited resources available to the DLP engine, and all the normal complexities of mucking with user’s workstations. The focus here is on performance and compatibility, along with confirming which content analysis techniques really work on endpoints (the typical sales exec is often a bit … obtuse … about this). If you will use policies that change based on which network the endpoint is on, also test that.

Finally, if you are deploying multiple DLP components – such as multiple network monitors and endpoint agents – it’s wise to verify they can all communicate. We have talked with some organizations that found limitations here and had to adjust their architectures.