At this point all planning should be complete. You have determined your incident handling process, started (or finished) cleaning up directory servers, defined your initial data protection priorities, figured out which high-level implementation process to start with, mapped our the environment so you know where to integrate, and performed initial testing and perhaps a proof of concept.

Now it’s time to integrate the DLP tool into your environment. You won’t be turning on any policies yet – the initial focus is on integrating the technical components and preparing to flip the switch.

Define a Deployment Architecture

Earlier you determined your deployment priorities and mapped out your environment. Now you will use them to define your deployment architecture.

DLP Component Overview

We have covered the DLP components a bit as we went along, but it’s important to know all the technical pieces you can integrate depending on your deployment priorities. This is just a high-level overview, and we go into much more detail in our Understanding and Selecting a Data Loss Prevention Solution paper.

This list includes many different possible components, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy a lot of different boxes. Small and mid-sized organizations might be able to get everything except the endpoint agents on a single appliance or server.

  • Network DLP consists of three major components and a few smaller optional ones:
    1. Network monitor or bridge/proxy – this is typically an appliance or dedicated server placed inline or passively off a SPAN or mirror port. It’s the core component for network monitoring.
    2. Mail Transport Agent – few DLP tools integrate directly into a mail server; instead they insert their own MTA as a hop in the email chain.
    3. Web gateway integration – many web gateways support the ICAP protocol, which DLP tools use to integrate and analyze proxy traffic. This enables more effective blocking and provides the ability to monitor SSL encrypted traffic if the gateway includes SSL intercept capabilities.
    4. Other proxy integration – the only other proxies we see with any regularity are for instant messaging portals, which can also be integrated with your DLP tool to support monitoring of encrypted communications and blocking before data leaves the organization.
    5. Email server integration – the email server is often separate from the MTA, and internal communications may never pass through the MTA which only has access to mail going to or coming from the Internet. Integrating directly into the mail server (message store) allows monitoring of internal communications. This feature is surprisingly uncommon.
  • Storage DLP includes four possible components:
    1. Remote/network file scanner – the easiest way to scan storage is to connect to a file share over the network and scan remotely. This component can be positioned close to the file repository to increase performance and reduce network saturation.
    2. Storage server agent – depending on the storage server, local monitoring software may be available. This reduces network overhead, runs faster, and often provides additional metadata, but may affect local performance because it uses CPU cycles on the storage server.
    3. Document management system integration or agent – document management systems combine file storage with an application layer and may support direct integration or the addition of a software agent on the server/device. This provides better performance and additional context, because the DLP tool gains access to management system metadata.
    4. Database connection – a few DLP tools support ODBC connections to scan inside databases for sensitive content.
  • Endpoint DLP primarily relies on software agents, although you can also scan endpoint storage using administrative file shares and the same remote scanning techniques used for file repositories. There is huge variation in the types of policies and activities which can be monitored by endpoint agents, so it’s critical to understand what your tool offers.

There are a few other components which aren’t directly involved with monitoring or blocking but impact integration planning:

  • Directory server agent/connection – required to correlate user activity with user accounts.
  • DHCP server agent/connection – to associate an assigned IP address with a user, which is required for accurate identification of users when observing network traffic. This must work directly with your directory server integration because the DHCP servers themselves are generally blind to user accounts.
  • SIEM connection – while DLP tools include their own alerting and workflow engines, some organizations want to push incidents to their Security Information and Event Management tools.

In our next post I will post a chart that maps priorities directly to technical components.