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11/30/2011
02:44 PM
Adrian Lane
Adrian Lane
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DAM Is Morphing

DAM may not be DAM much longer.

The database activity monitoring (DAM) market has changed over the last 18 months, specifically in the ways DAM is augmenting base functionality to solve a broader range of security threats.

The changes include both the incorporation of existing security technologies into DAM platforms along with the seamless linking of other -- external -- security services. This deserves mention both because the integration is tighter than we have seen with other security products like IDS or SIEM, and because the DAM vendors are coupling technologies to fit different visions of how customers want to manage security and compliance.

Why is this important? DAM may not be DAM much longer. It's morphing into something -- maybe more than one thing -- entirely different.

Here I am going to describe one such adaptation of DAM, one of four trends that I have been monitoring. I'll go over the others in subsequent posts.

The first trend I see is the applying DAM features generically to many back-office applications. Data operations -- such as a a file read, MS Sharepoint request or SAP transaction -- are treated just like a database query. The structure of the user request is different but DAM parses each request for critical attributes and make sure the call complies with security policies. As before, if the analysis shows a rule was violated, a security response is triggered.

The beauty of this adaptation from the user perspective is that the deployment model is unchanged. Events are collected through same basic OS layer agents as before, and sent to a central server for analysis and storage. The agents are modified to collect and understand many different types of application events, and the policy management engine is tweaked to accommodate non-database rules.

Note that DAM does more than alerting and blocking -- it will also leverage masking, encryption and labeling technologies to address security and compliance requirements. This model relies heavily on discovery to help administrators locate data and define usage policies in advance.

You'll notice there is a little overlap with SIEM, but the types of events being monitored are much more focused on the application layer, and the responses are intended to be real time. There is also some overlap with DLP, but DAM approach lacks the endpoint capabilities and full content awareness.

To be honest, I don't know what to call this yet. It's application monitoring, but focused on data usage. The architecture is one that mimics the business processing systems, acting as underlying sensors for each data exchange. For now, I am describing this as an "Business Activity Monitoring," for lack of a better term. I am sure this name will change several times during the course of the research project and as I delve into the other models in more detail.

Adrian Lane is an analyst/CTO with Securosis LLC, an independent security consulting practice. Special to Dark Reading. Adrian Lane is a Security Strategist and brings over 25 years of industry experience to the Securosis team, much of it at the executive level. Adrian specializes in database security, data security, and secure software development. With experience at Ingres, Oracle, and ... View Full Bio

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