How Data Loss Prevention Improves Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC)

By Sanjay Bhakta, VP & Head of Solutions
Data loss prevention experts discuss governance, risk, and compliance (GRC).

How well a business manages governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) could determine how well a business manages its future. GRC is no longer just a topic that those in the know talk about at conferences and podcasts. It’s on the radar screen of the C-Suite.

That’s because the risks of failing to manage cybersecurity and GRC together can cause catastrophic consequences in an increasingly interconnected global economy, and regulators around the world are imposing new requirements that compel businesses to better manage GRC. Let’s take a closer look, including why data loss prevention (DLP) helps businesses manage GRC.

What Is GRC?

GRC refers to how well organizations ensure they’re managing their operations and meeting all external legal and regulatory requirements, while also managing their internal policies and procedures effectively. Its components are:

  • Governance: the overarching framework of policies, rules, and decision-making processes that guide an organization’s actions to achieve its goals. This includes establishing clear roles and responsibilities for managing security.
  • Risk: the process of identifying, assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating potential threats to an organization’s assets and operations. This involves understanding what could go wrong and determining appropriate countermeasures.
  • Compliance: the adherence to regulations, standards, and laws. In cybersecurity, this means complying with frameworks like HIPAA (healthcare), PCI DSS (payment card data), GDPR (data privacy), and others.

GRC is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. It requires continuous monitoring and risk assessment as technology and threats change—and senior leadership support is crucial. Without it, GRC initiatives may lack authority and resources.

How Does GRC Relate to Cybersecurity?

GRC provides a structured approach to cybersecurity, going beyond technical defenses. For instance, cybersecurity governance defines important elements such as who is responsible for cybersecurity decisions and policies processes for incident reporting and response. Risk management for cybersecurity identifies cybersecurity risks, like vulnerabilities in software and potential consequences of a security breach. Compliance for cybersecurityhelps ensure that the organization meets mandatory regulations and standards designed to protect sensitive data.

The relationship between GRC and cybersecurity has been at the core of many important regulations around the world. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now requires publicly traded businesses to disclose cybersecurity incidents within four business days of determining that the incident is material.

Regulators in other countries have also enacted similar laws.

The Impact of Regional Regulations on GRC and Cybersecurity

Further complicating compliance, cybersecurity disclosure rules vary considerably across different jurisdictions. Some have stricter reporting timelines, while others have broader definitions of what constitutes a reportable incident. But, regardless of any differences among them, the regulations reflect a growing global concern about GRC.

GRC was a major theme in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) recently released Global Risks Report. Of executives surveyed by the WEF in 2024, 39% perceive cyberattacks as a significant crisis worldwide. The increasing regularity and complexity of cyberthreats directly endanger the security and privacy of confidential information, while also compromising efforts to maintain compliance and subjecting organizations to considerable risks.

The WEF report identifies risk interconnection as a primary concern, attributing it to the complex and extensive web of relationships and dependencies among an organization’s risk elements. This complexity means that one risk can significantly affect the likelihood and impact of other risks within the organization’s governance structure.

For example, a cybersecurity incident occurring at a time when your organization is already stretched thin due to economic pressures like staffing challenges can have an inordinate impact on your operations. If bad actors target essential infrastructure or engage in disinformation campaigns while your resources are depleted, your company could be especially vulnerable. Addressing these interconnected risks is vital to prevent a domino effect that could result in extensive systemic failures.

That’s where GRC comes in.

How Does GRC Relate to Data Loss Prevention?

At Centific, we believe that the emergence of GRC as a global priority underlines why businesses need to ensure that they’re being vigilant about cybersecurity. This is where disclosure rules coming from bodies such as the SEC and European Union come into play.

Businesses should look at the disclosure rules as an opportunity to review their cybersecurity practices and improve them. Any business should be adhering to the rigorous cybersecurity practices required by law before being required to disclose them in their annual report.

As part of this assessment, a business needs to examine its approach to data loss prevention (DLP). DLP is a security approach that focuses on identifying and preventing the unauthorized use, disclosure, or destruction of sensitive information. It’s like a security guard for your data, constantly watching for suspicious activity and stopping any attempts to take it out of the walls surrounding your digital estate.

Effective DLP works by:

  • Classifying sensitive data effectively
  • Monitoring all channels and devices for suspicious behavior
  • Detecting unauthorized activity
  • Taking proactive action to prevent data loss

The Role of DLP Within a GRC Framework

DLP plays a significant role across all core components of GRC frameworks.


DLP aligns with an organization’s governance framework by actively enforcing data security policies. It monitors data movements and user actions, ensuring they adhere to established rules and preventing unauthorized access or misuse. DLP also often assists in the crucial governance task of classifying sensitive data. This classification provides clarity on what data requires the most stringent protection and should become the focus of DLP safeguards.

Risk Management

DLP contributes to risk management by providing visibility into where sensitive data exists across the organization’s systems (both on-premises and cloud). This visibility is key to assessing risks associated with potential data leakage.

DLP solutions track user behaviors and alert administrators to risky activities like transfers to unauthorized locations, use of insecure communication channels, or atypical data usage patterns that could suggest a threat. DLP also helps quantify the potential financial and reputational damage of a breach, allowing organizations to prioritize resource allocation for mitigation efforts.


DLP supports compliance efforts. Regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS frequently require controls to prevent sensitive data loss. DLP serves as the technological mechanism to enforce these controls. It offers thorough reporting and logging, providing vital evidence that data protection policies are being followed as mandated by regulations.

In the unfortunate event of a data breach, DLP logs play a crucial role in forensic investigations, helping determine the incident’s scope and streamlining the process of meeting any legal breach notification requirements.

An Example of DLP Supporting GRC

Picture a retail bank that’s recently adopted a cloud-based storage solution for its customer data. With this move, the bank’s IT team used a DLP solution to gain critical visibility into where sensitive customer information, like account numbers and Social Security numbers (SSN), now resides. This visibility allows the bank to assess the risks of both accidental exposure (like an employee mistakenly saving data to an unsecure cloud folder) and malicious activity (such as an external hacker attempting to exfiltrate data).

The bank’s DLP system also monitors how employees interact with this sensitive data. It can flag actions like sending financial details over unencrypted email or transferring customer records to a personal USB drive. These alerts help the IT security team intervene quickly to prevent leaks. Furthermore, by analyzing overall data usage patterns, the DLP system might even detect subtle changes that could point to an early-stage breach.

The DLP’s ability to track data and potential leaks helps the bank build a case for increased cybersecurity investment. If the system reveals a high number of near misses or risky user behavior patterns, the bank can use these insights to justify stronger controls or additional staff training, reducing its overall financial and reputational risk in the long run.

How Our Hypothetical Bank Uses DLP to Support GRC

  • Governance: The bank has strict policies about how customer data can be handled (for example, permissible storage locations, encryption requirements, etc.). The DLP solution directly enforces these policies by blocking the movement of sensitive data to unauthorized locations and preventing the transmission of customer information through insecure channels. This ensures the bank’s actions align with internal data security rules.
  • Risk management: DLP provides essential visibility into where sensitive data lives and how it’s used. This facilitates risk assessment by exposing potential areas of vulnerability or non-compliance with those data policies. The system’s ability to track risky behavior further adds to the risk management picture.
  • Compliance: Banks must adhere to regulations like PCI DSS (for credit card data) and potentially others depending on their region of operation. These regulations often have specific mandates regarding data transmission, storage, and monitoring. DLP’s technical enforcement of data handling policies directly supports adherence to these regulations. Additionally, the DLP framework’s logging function provides the bank with records and evidence to demonstrate compliance during audits.

Adopt a 360-Degree Approach to DLP

A rigorous, 360-degree approach to DLP with integrated generative AI (GenAI) is the key to staying ahead of bad actors looking for every conceivable edge in their quest to breach corporate data and commit acts of fraud. Implementing the necessary security improvements can take time and money—but repairing after a catastrophic data breach will always take more.

Learn more about Centific’s approach to GRC.