McAfee DLP review and four best alternatives

McAfee Total Protection for Data Loss Prevention (McAfee Total Protection for DLP) is one of the most prominent data protection systems on the market

This system is a good option for protecting personally identifiable information (PII), subject to stringent legal protection in most developed economies. However, you could benefit from this tool even if your business doesn’t hold the personal information of individuals because it is also a good tool for protecting intellectual property and trade secrets, such as price lists, supplier agreements, and manufacturing specifications.

McAfee is a leading name in the field of cybersecurity. The founder, the eccentric John McAfee, invented the concept of anti-virus. The company began operations in 1987, and John McAfee left the company and sold off the remainder of his holdings in 1994. So, this business has been around for a long time and has been through many transformations over the years.

The business today is partly owned by Intel Corporation but operates as an independent enterprise. The company operates from its headquarters in San Jose, California, and has offices around the world and a prominent presence on the World Wide Web. The company, officially called McAfee Corp., is listed on Nasdaq and, as of August 2021, has a market valuation of $12.8 billion.

What does McAfee Total Protection for DLP do?

McAfee Total Protection for Data Loss Prevention runs on your site and observes activities on your network and all endpoints. There is a central server system for the appliance, and this needs to be set up for the SLP to function. Much of this setup is automated and constantly revised during the system’s operating life.

There are four units to McAfee Total Protection for DLP:

  • McAfee DLP Discover
  • McAfee DLP Prevent
  • McAfee DLP Endpoint
  • McAfee DLP Monitor

The system can cover cloud resources as well as on-site systems. On installation, it can search for records of past data access events. It will offer analysis that will inform you of security weaknesses and feed into the automated setup processes of the DLP.

The set-up processes involve examining user accounts, creating security policies, and the discovery and classification of data. Once all of these steps have been undertaken, the system can start to monitor data access and movements according to the specifications of the security policies.

Here is more information about the three units of McAfee Total Protection for DLP and how they interact.

McAfee DLP Discover

McAfee DLP Discover operates through endpoint agents to locate all data stores. It then examines each instance and field of data to assess its sensitivity. There is a built-in data classification system in the McAfee DLP solution. However, it requires a degree of manual involvement, which businesses with a lot of data to sift through might find burdensome. However, it is possible to associate an automated third-party classification system of your choice to take care of that problem.

The central dashboard controls all of the activities of the endpoint agents to interpret the security policies. In addition, you should set up before triggering the data discovery search. These policies can be organized to meet the requirements of data security standards.

McAfee defines its data management strategy in three steps:

  • Inventory Locates data stores
  • Categorization Identifies which data instances are high priority sensitive data
  • Remediation Indexes and maps sensitive data instances

The Inventory step can search through files, databases, and cloud platforms. It can also scan through images of documents, pictures, screenshots, and forms, using OCR.

The Categorization service can identify related fields. These might not constitute PII in isolation but will represent a breach if released together. The Discover service conducts fingerprinting to identify these high-priority field combinations. Fingerprinting moves into the Remediation step, which produces a definitive landscape to which the security policies should be applied.

McAfee DLP Prevent

McAfee DLP Prevent applies the security policies over access controls you set up in the dashboard to the Discover module’s sensitive data. This system monitors all data movement utilities that are launched from endpoints, including email and messaging systems. The module also extends to the monitoring of data accessing applications that are resident on cloud servers.

DLP Prevent offers a range of remediation actions, including encryption, redirection, blocking, and quarantining. In addition, security policies can apply different actions to different sensitivity levels and user types.

Other McAfee DLP Prevent package facilities include performance and event analysis that can also examine logs of data breaches that occurred before the McAfee system was installed. Information gleaned from these studies can help you adjust your security policies, prove conformance with data security standards, or assess SLA goal achievement.

McAfee DLP Endpoint

All of the actions initiated in the Discover and Prevent modules are implemented by endpoint agents, which are installations of McAfee DLP Endpoint. These agents collect data, including sensitive data locations for transfer to the Discover and Prevent services’ server systems and display in the system dashboard, which McAfee ePO implements.

McAfee MVISION Cloud manages cloud resources. Linking the cloud service and the endpoint system together in the ePO-provided dashboard of the DLP system provides a unified view of all data locations used by the enterprise. Additionally, you can link a third-party user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) system to identify account takeover and insider threats.

On discovering an unauthorized or inappropriate attempt to access, change, copy, or move data, the McAfee DLP Endpoint system alerts the DLP Incident Manager in the ePO dashboard.

McAfee DLP Monitor

McAfee DLP Monitor provides live scanning of network traffic that adds extra security to the controls provided by MacAfee DLP Endpoint. The behavior of this service is controlled by the security policies that you specify in the dashboard. In addition, this monitor contributes to the data pool used by the performance analysis service in the DLP. This acts like a SIEM.

McAfee Total Protection for DLP deployment options

McAfee DLP Prevent and McAfee DLP Monitor are available as physical or virtual appliances. The ePO software installs on Windows Server, and the McAfee DLP Endpoint system is available for Windows and macOS.

McAfee Total Protection for DLP pros and cons

We examined the functionality of McAfee Total Protection for DLP and identified its strengths and weaknesses.


  • Performs an automated and continuous discovery and classification cycle
  • Includes analytical functions that act as a SIEM
  • Options to encrypt files to enforce security
  • Unifies the monitoring of data on-site and in the Cloud
  • Delivered as a physical or virtual appliance


  • No endpoint agent for Linux

Alternatives to McAfee Total Protection for DLP

The absence in McAfee Total Protection for DLP of endpoint agents for Linux is a big problem. If you have devices that run Linux, you can’t afford to just leave them out of your data protection program. Therefore, you will need to know about some alternative data loss prevention systems.

Our methodology for selecting a McAfee Total Protection for DLP alternative

We reviewed the market for data loss prevention systems and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • The ability to monitor devices running Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • The option to combine monitoring for on-site and cloud resources
  • Sensitive data discovery and classification service
  • File integrity management
  • Nice to have an integrated intrusion detection system
  • A cost-free assessment opportunity in the form of a free trial or a demo system
  • Value for money, represented by a fair price for the breadth of services offered

With these selection criteria, we have formulated a range of options.

Here is our list of the four best alternatives to McAfee Total Protection for DLP:

  1. ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus EDITOR’S CHOICE This on-premises software for Windows Server provides protection for sensitive data with a discovery and classification service and file protection. The system also monitors user activity and controls the movement of protected data. Get a 30-day free trial.
  2. Endpoint Protector This system combines a cloud-based server with endpoint resident agents to provide constant protection that can continue online and an instantly updated threat protection system on the cloud.
  3. Digital Guardian DLP This data loss prevention platform monitors endpoints and networks to control and block data movements. This is a cloud-based system with endpoint agents for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
  4. Teramind DLP A cloud-based data loss prevention system that includes user and entity behavior analytics and insider threat assessments.

You can read more about each of these options in the following sections.

1. ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus (FREE TRIAL)

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus can be tailored to support a specific data protection standard through the use of templates. The settings menu of the service includes a library of templates and each accounts for a set of data protection requirements. The system can be tailored to implement PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, and many other data privacy specifications.

Key Features:

  • Quick Security Policy Setup: Select from a library of templates
  • Containerization of Files: Adds an extra layer of access authentication
  • Data Movement Controls: Looks at email, cloud upload, and peripheral devices
  • Compliance Reporting: GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA
  • On-Premises System: Runs on Windows Server

Why do we recommend it?

ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus includes a data discovery and categorization service that can be tailored to data protection standards, including GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA. This system then protects those locations by containerizing the files that hold the data. An administrator defines authorized applications that are able to access the files.

The data discovery process in Endpoint DLP Plus searches through all of your endpoints for instances of the protected data types. These are then classified for importance and the files that contain those sensitive data instances are then protected.

File protection is implemented through containerization. This blocks all access attempts directly to file contents. Instead, access is granted to authorized, trusted software packages – you set up a list of these in the console for Endpoint DLP Plus. It should be assumed that only applications that themselves require credentials for use should be designated as trusted. This mechanism means that you consolidate your access rights management to combine both software and data.

Within the access granted to those trusted applications is a logging mechanism, so each access attempt is recorded and attributed to a specific user account. Suspicious access events can trigger further scrutiny of that particular user account. This is an insider threat monitoring system that also looks for account takeover.

Endpoint DLP Plus controls data movements, it doesn’t block them. This is an important feature because you don’t want the work of authorized users to be slowed down or prevented. Instead, certain users are allowed to perform certain actions. This can be narrowed down to specific file movement utilities on specific categories of data that are held in a specific location. So, a user might be able to copy one file but not another. It might be allowed to upload a file to a cloud platform but not to attach it to an email, while another user might be allowed to email a different file.

Data movement controls are implemented over email systems, cloud upload mechanisms, and attached devices, such as USB sticks. It is also possible to prevent data from being printed out.

Who is it recommended for?

This system implements granular controls that allow some users to access specific data stores through approved applications. The service includes activity logging for compliance auditing. This is an on-premises package that runs on Windows Server and there is a Free edition that will manage data on 25 endpoints.


  • Automated Data Management: Sensitive data discovery and classification
  • Granular Controls: Rules that combine user authorization with data sensitivity levels
  • Data Access Controls: Files locked with access allowed to trusted applications
  • Automated Activity Monitoring: Includes a system of alerts
  • Free Edition: Watches up to 25 endpoints


  • Focused on Endpoints: Doesn’t provide network scanning

Endpoint DLP Plus runs on Windows Server. A Free edition is available for small businesses to monitor up to 25 computers. The paid edition, called Professional is available for a 30-day free trial.


ManageEngine Endpoint DLP Plus is our top pick for a McAfee DLP alternative because it uses a library of templates to quickly apply all of the regulations stipulated in specific data protection standards. The tool uses your existing access rights management system for applications by attaching access to sensitive data stores to specific software packages. The service also applies granular data movement controls to email systems, cloud upload mechanisms, printers, and USB sticks. This is a good package for enforcing the controls laid down in PCI DSS and HIPAA, GDPR, and other data protection standards.

Official Site:

OS: Windows Server

2. Endpoint Protector

Endpoint Protector

Endpoint Protector has endpoint agents for Windows, macOS, and Linux, coordinated from a cloud-based server. In addition, the controller includes a dashboard where you set up your security policies for supervision through the DLP service.

Key Features:

  • Data Management: Sensitive data discovery and classification service
  • Insider Threat Detection: Looks for anomalous behavior
  • Scans Multiple Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Device Controls: Approves USB sticks by serial number

Why do we recommend it?

Endpoint Protector is an allowlisting system that blocks all software from running. This prevents malware from running and it also stops employees from installing their own insecure utilities on company computers. An administrator sets up an access rights manager that combines data targets and applications with user permissions.

The endpoint agents offer all data protection functionality, so they continue to operate effectively even when the device is disconnected from the network. The cloud service gathers event data from endpoint agents and searches for combined threats. This is a lot like a SIEM configuration.

When beginning operations, you have to enroll devices in the program. However, those devices do not all need to be on the same network, and it is also possible to include cloud resources in the monitoring service.

On starting service, the server will scan and assess your access rights management system, producing suggestions of changes that can be made to tighten security. After installing endpoint agents, the server sends out instructions to starts a sensitive data discovery sweep. The types of data that the endpoint agents look for are modified according to the security policies that you create.

The discovery scan identifies all data and then classifies those instances to work out sensitive data that needs to be protected. The discoverer will then grade the sensitivity of each piece of data and apply the level of protection that is specified in the security policies.

Steps that can be taken to enforce security include the encryption of files to regulate access. The DLP also controls data movement onto printers and removable storage and through emails and file transfers.

The endpoint agents implement user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA). This profiles each user’s behavior and the activity of system processes. With this intelligence, the DLP can establish a baseline of regular activity. Deviations from this standard raise an alert.

Endpoint Protector is a great pick as an alternative to McAfee Total Protection for Data Loss Prevention because it has endpoint agents for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There is also a mobile operating system version, and the service can include the supervision of all platforms plus cloud resources in a unified security monitoring system. In addition, this data protection system includes controls over data exfiltration channels and performs UEBA to identify threats.

Who is it recommended for?

This package is suitable for any business and it will particularly appeal to companies that have no cybersecurity experts on the payroll. You don’t need any special knowledge to run this system. Its procedures are similar to account management processes that are familiar to any system administrator.


  • Data Access Controls: Allows specified users to access a particular type of data
  • Control of Exfiltration Channels: Emails, cloud uploads, chat apps, printers, and USB sticks
  • Threat Hunting: Focuses on insider threats
  • Unifies Cloud and Site Security Monitoring: Protects data stores


  • Not Offered as an Appliance: SaS, cloud installation of virtual appliance

There are several deployment options for the server of Endpoint Protector. It is offered as a hosted SaaS platform, and it can also be accessed in the Marketplace of AWS, GCP, and Azure. The code can also be run on-site over a VM. Experience Endpoint Protector for free by accessing a demo.

3. Digital Guardian DLP

Digital Guardian DLP

Digital Guardian DLP runs from a cloud platform through on-device agents. It can monitor activities on any device anywhere, unify multi-site and home-based devices into one monitoring service, and include cloud resources. In addition, each device agent operates independently, ensuring continuity of protection if the endpoint gets disconnected from the network.

Key Features:

  • SaaS Platform: A managed service option is also available
  • Data Exfiltration Controls: Scans network traffic for data movements
  • Endpoint Agents: Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Why do we recommend it?

Fortra Digital Guardian DLP is an endpoint agent coordinator. This includes a data discovery and classification service but you can also choose to use a third-party tool for that task. The tool relies on external threat detection systems. It feeds activity data into a SIEM and then returns remediation instructions back to those agents for implementation.

The service is controlled from the cloud server, and all actions are performed on endpoints. Administration tasks, such as creating security policies, are performed through the system dashboard, which is accessed through any standard Web browser. In addition, the device agents upload activity reports for endpoints and networks, and these get processed into threat detection and activity reports on the server.

The server will reorganize your access rights management system and kick off a system scan run by the device agents. That sweep discovers all sensitive data locations and categorizes personally identifiable information (PII) and intellectual property. These data locations are then subjected to access monitoring.

Who is it recommended for?

This package is recommended for businesses that already have a suitable security package in operation and also have a sensitive data and discovery package. The Fortra system extends those third-party tools for endpoint monitoring. The system is available as a SaaS platform and as a managed security service.


  • Cloud-Based Hub: Offers threat detection as well as data protection
  • Operates Through Endpoint Agents: Can unify the security monitoring of data on any device anywhere
  • Applies Security Policies: Operates through an improved access rights management structure


  • Doesn’t Include Data Discovery or Classification: Relies on third-party tools for a data catalog

This service combines threat detection with data loss prevention. The device agents run on Windows, macOS, and Linux. They control USB ports, printers, emails, and file transfer systems. You check out Digital Guardian DLP with a demo account.

4. Teramind DLP

Teramind DLP

Teramind DLP is a SaaS platform with onsite modules for monitoring and remediation. This system is offered in versions for the health care industry and the financial sector and a general DLP service. In addition, it provides security policy templates for GDPR, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS.

Key Features:

  • Insider Threat Detection: Scans use activity
  • Remote User Monitoring: Accounts for lax data security in employees’ homes
  • Fraud Prevention: Looks for unusual data access

Why do we recommend it?

Teramind DLP is part of a user tracking system and there are lower plans that only provide that service. The DLP edition adds on sensitive data discovery and classification. When tied into the user tracking system, that data identification system for a data loss prevention package.

The endpoint agents scan devices for data locations and then categorize all data instances to focus on sensitive data. Those data instances of interest then get graded further into bands of severity. This discovery service is continuous. The data discoverer will search through files, databases, and cloud storage, and it can find data in pictures and images of documents through the use of OCR.

Teramind DLP performs a risk assessment and an analysis of data access events to help you fine-tune your security policies. The system is able to identify anomalous behavior that could indicate insider threats, account takeover, or intrusion.

Who is it recommended for?

This system focuses on data misuse as well as data protection. That is, it allows users to get access to data but only for the use intended by the business and understood by the data subject. This system provides compliance management for GDPR, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS.


  • Sensitive Data Protection: Implements threat detection and data loss prevention
  • System Hardening: Assesses the system to reduce risks
  • Preset Controls for Specific Data Privacy Standards: GDPR, HIPAA, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS


  • No On-Premises Option: This is a SaaS package

Teramind DLP is available for a 14-day free trial.