Data security is a top priority for businesses of every size. Whether it’s safeguarding your customers’ personal data, or your organization’s own proprietary data, data loss prevention (DLP) is an essential practice in the digital world. And the legal, financial, and reputational damage that can result from data loss can prove devastating for many businesses.

To make sure your organization is protected against data breaches, you should consider implementing a strategy for data loss prevention. Microsoft customers enjoy the benefits of having world-leading security built into its product ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean the job is done. Managing and monitoring these security systems requires experience and expertise to ensure your security defenses stay one step ahead of the threat.

This blog outlines what to include in a DLP strategy; explores what Microsoft data loss prevention involves; and highlights the importance of optimizing your Microsoft DLP policy options.

What is data loss prevention?

To understand what data loss prevention is, and what should be included in a DLP policy, it is worth thinking about the nature of the threat. To figure out how to best prevent data loss, we need to know what its most common causes are. DLP would be defined as the practices and policies that aim to prevent these from occurring. So, let’s piece it together.

External threats – Cybercriminals are constantly devising new ways to exploit cybersecurity defenses. Meaning however much you invest in cybersecurity technology, there is always the potential for the worst to happen. To minimize the risk and fallout of malicious actors, organizations need to control access to sensitive data and monitor user activity in real-time. You need to have policies in place to catch the exploit while it’s hot, and to act as soon as anomalous behavior is spotted.

Accidental mistakes – Human error is a common cause of data loss and leakage. Whether it’s not recognizing a malicious phishing email or misplacing devices containing sensitive data in public places, organizations need to put measures in place to be as proactive as possible and safeguard data at all times.

Internal actors – Sadly, many data leaks arise from intentional acts or malicious intent from an organization’s own employees. Zero trust policies often form the backbone of data loss prevention, because organizations must protect their data assets from complex and unpredictable scenarios.

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How Microsoft data loss prevention works

For Microsoft customers, DLP works by creating, defining, and assigning Microsoft DLP policies, which automate the identification and monitoring of sensitive data.

Secure apps (and more)

In Microsoft 365, data loss prevention policies work across the entire range of services and solutions, including:

  • Microsoft’s popular productivity solutions and services like Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive
  • Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • A range of operating system endpoints including Windows 10, Windows 11, and macOS
  • Third-party non-Microsoft cloud apps that integrate with Microsoft 365
  • On-premises systems including file shares and on-premises SharePoint.

Microsoft 365 DLP policies monitor user activity that involves interacting with sensitive data. It then automatically takes action to protect these assets and prevent data loss from happening. But what does this look like? Well, it’s determined by what the user activity is and on the controls and conditions programmed by IT admins.

How it works

When a user attempts anything that is prohibited by the DLP policies, one of the following will automatically occur:

  • A pop-up warning that sensitive data is at risk
  • Blocking the ability for the user to share (with or without the ability to override)
  • Locking sensitive data and moving it to a secure location
  • The sensitive information will not be displayed to users

You can read more about Microsoft data loss prevention here.

Availability of Microsoft DLP

Microsoft licenses that include DLP protection are Office 365 E3 and E5, Microsoft 365 E3 and E5, along with F5.

MessageOps, provides solutions and services to help you run your business more efficiently and securely in the cloud. We can help you gain 100% visibility over your Microsoft 365 data with Inscape, the ultimate Microsoft 365 value enhancer.

What’s more, our Microsoft security and data protection experts can help you set up the best security defenses to meet your business’ unique requirements—including ensuring your data loss prevention policies are fit for purpose.


To learn more about Microsoft data loss prevention and how to optimize your DLP policy options, schedule a free consultation with MessageOps today.

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