Email data loss prevention

It’s here! Egress’ 2021 Data Loss Prevention Report

Find out more about accidental and intentional data loss, and why the risk is higher in 2021
by Egress
Published on 23rd Feb 2021

Organizations are experiencing real and measurable problems due to data loss. 95% of IT leaders believe that sensitive client and corporate data is at risk of loss and unauthorized disclosure on email.

The 2021 Data Loss Prevention Report reveals the true scale of the problem, particularly around data loss via email, the impact of remote working, and frustrations with static email DLP technology. We’ve surveyed 3,000 remote workers and 500 IT leaders to give you the most up-to-date insight into the potential risks to your business.

Email is the #1 channel for data loss

People are relying on digital channels more than ever, and anyone who’s been working remotely won’t be surprised to hear that all of them are being used more during the pandemic. Email has seen the biggest increase – even over video-calling and messaging apps.

So why were 85% of employees sending more emails than pre-pandemic? Perhaps in testing times, we prefer to fall back on the channels we know and trust. 46% of remote workers said they felt most productive while using email, so for plenty, it’s still the best way to get things done fast. Email also offers simplicity. It’s the easiest way to transfer longer-form content to multiple people. You can’t share attachments via video call and messaging apps such as Teams aren’t always suitable for external use.

However, the report also revealed a number of statistics that will be of particular concern to IT professionals. For starters, we found that 83% of organizations have experienced data breaches from email. When we learned that 80% of employees share sensitive data with clients and colleagues via email, it became clear this was a major issue.

The impact of email data loss

Most workers will have sat through cybersecurity training and will be at least partially aware of the risks of data loss. Unfortunately, they still might not be aware of just how serious (and easy) it is to leak data via email. We asked IT leaders what impact their organizations had felt during the pandemic.

We discovered that 59% have already seen an increase in data leakage via email since the pandemic started. Therefore it didn’t come as a huge surprise to hear that 64% of IT leaders believe a remote workforce will mean more future email data breaches. Clients are becoming switched on to the issue too – over half of organizations have been asked if they have email DLP tools in place.

When each email breach incident takes around 60 hours to resolve, the implications are serious. Out of the organizations we surveyed, 37% had experienced reputational damage from an email breach and 38% had experienced client churn. This begged a further line of research – why is so much data being lost via email?

Blurred boundaries

Everyone makes mistakes. But we know that tired, stressed people make significantly more. The data shows that one year into remote working, plenty of people are feeling the strain. When we learned that 60% of remote workers still work in domestic spaces with frequent distractions and interruptions, it wasn’t too surprising to learn mistakes leading to data loss are on the rise.

This could be down to blurred work/life boundaries having a tangible impact on some people’s mental health. 34% admitted to feeling more tired due to the pandemic and 39% felt more stressed. On top of that, 73% of remote workers told us that they accessed emails outside of their core working hours – and 46% said they felt pressured to do so.

Employers have noticed this trend too: 25% of IT leaders believe stress and tiredness play a part in data loss, and 64% believe a remote workforce will mean more future email data breaches. So, what can they do about it?

The need for intelligent security

We asked IT leaders how they were defending against data loss and how happy they were with their current solutions. One thing was called out loud and clear: traditional DLP technology isn’t cutting it. In fact, 100% of IT leaders using legacy static email DLP are frustrated by it!

Organizations are finding it too time-consuming to maintain and impractical for everyday use. 37% have had to manually alter rules to make them usable for employees, which has put data at even more risk. Essentially, the survey data shows that traditional static email DLP is fundamentally unable to prevent email data breaches.

That’s why organizations are turning towards intelligent, context-driven human layer security. Human layer security uses contextual machine learning to detect abnormal behaviors and alert users to mistakes as they happen. Put simply – it lets workers get on with being productive while keeping them secure at the same time.

For example, they can let people know in real-time whether they’ve attached the wrong file or accidentally selected the wrong recipient. It can also detect intentionally risky and malicious behaviour to block exfiltration and alert administrators.

Don’t gamble on getting lucky and avoiding a data breach. Understand the risks and bring the latest DLP insights into your organization today: download your copy of our Data Loss Prevention Report.