I. Background of Data Leakage Prevention

Data leakage refers to unauthorised transmission of data from within an organisation to an external destination or recipient. The transmission can be done both electronically and physically and the types of data leaked usually include:

  • Confidential / Sensitive Information
  • Intellectual property
  • Customer / Student Data
  • Health Records

Given today's strict regulatory and legal compliance requirement on intellectual and personal data protection, organisations, including universities, have invested a great deal of time and resources in safeguarding their information from potential unauthorised access and disclosure. Security vendors and researchers also developed various counter measures to fight against data leakage issues, which are collectively known as Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) solutions. A key distinguishing feature of DLP that contrasts with non-DLP security tools, such as data encryption, is deep content analysis based on pre-defined security policies.

In general, DLP refers to any systems or tools that identify, monitor, and protect the following type of data:

  • Data in Motion - Any data that is moving through the network to the outside via the Internet. This feature applies to all data transmitted on wire or wirelessly. E.g. Examination results sent to students over the Internet.
  • Data in Use - Data at the endpoints of the network (e.g. data on USB devices, external drivers, MP3 players, laptops, and other highly-mobile devices). E.g. Patent information stored on portable hard disks.
  • Data at Rest - Data that resides in files system, databases and other storage methods. E.g. A university's financial data stored on the financial application server.

In response to the above types of data having exposure to potential leakage problem, specific DLP systems / tools have been engineered to mitigate the risks or detect any security violations:

KPMG Publication - Data Leakage Prevention
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