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6/17/2008
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Encryption: DLP's Newest Ingredient

Major vendors increasingly add encryption offerings to their data loss prevention packages

If you're thinking about implementing data loss prevention technology in your enterprise, you'd better be ready to talk about your encryption strategy.

DLP, once seen as a quick-fix solution for reducing data breaches, is rapidly being recast as a core strategy for discovering sensitive information in the enterprise and controlling access to it. As that evolution occurs, DLP is increasingly becoming the spark that restarts previously stagnant data encryption projects.

"Every major DLP vendor has, or is developing, encryption capabilities or partnerships," says Rich Mogull, founder and principal analyst at Securosis, a security consultancy. "File/folder encryption and DLP should be integrated."

That point was brought home earlier today, when encryption pioneer RSA rolled out a new release of its File Security Manager, which has been recast as a key element of the EMC subsidiary's RSA Data Security System, a comprehensive data protection strategy that includes DLP.

"For a lot of years, security has been about physical controls, but I think we're now seeing that that was sort of the tail wagging the dog," says Tom Corn, vice president of product management and marketing for RSA's data security group.

DLP provides a discovery mechanism that helps enterprises identify the sensitive data in the organization, so that they can make intelligent choices on what to encrypt and how to encrypt it, Corn explains. "The dirty little secret of security is that we build all of these careful protections around applications and files, and then the users go in and make copies of the data and put it in email or on shared file servers that no one knows about," he says. "You have to discover the data before you can apply policies and access controls."

RSA File Security Manager 2.2 is designed to work closely with the company's DLP and other tools, offering transparent encryption and role-based access control for sensitive files and folders on Windows and Linux servers, the company says. By providing an extra layer of access control above and beyond what is offered via the operating system, the RSA File Security Manager solution is engineered to enable a “separation of duties” between security and systems administration, as well as restricting full access to files to authorized users only.

Other large security vendors are also linking DLP and encryption. McAfee, for example, has integrated encryption and DLP offerings at the end point, notes Chris Parkerson, the company's group solutions marketing manager for data protection.

"Initially, there was a mad scramble to protect the company from the loss of physical devices, like laptops and portable hard drives," Parkerson says. "What companies are now discovering is that there are a whole range of threats they've got to address, and no one product is going to solve all of them. DLP and encryption are among a whole range of tools that will be needed."

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    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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