It's no secret the real enemy now lies within your network, whether the offending user is a disgruntled employee, the unsuspecting victim of a targeted attack, or just plain clueless. Either way, data can be sent or stolen from your enterprise and be a potential nightmare of lost and compromised intellectual property, and personal and sensitive information.
Data leakage tools to protect against this insider threat, whether it's malicious or inadvertent, will be headlining next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco:
It all boils down to the fact that security is not about the network perimeter anymore. Estimates range from 50- to 70 percent of all exploits are either initiated by, or somehow related to a user who bypasses perimeter security via email, the Internet, instant messaging, or other peer-to-peer venues, says Paul Myer, president and COO of 8e6 Technologies.
"You've got to get a handle on data in any format that comes out and quarantine it before it leaves your network," Myer says. "And that doesn't have to be data you mark as confidential. You can also include data that's a specific format to make sure it doesn't go out electronically."
Then there's the oh-so-convenient but oh-so-vulnerable USB ports and other movable media that can lift data from the organization or infect it. That's where a client product comes into the data leakage picture, which Myers says is the next frontier for 8e6. "Short of supergluing your USB ports, you need to really lock them down. That's what we're looking at in the future -- either [doing it] ourselves or through a strategic partnership."
Dennis Szerszen, senior vice president for SecureWave, which sells whitelisting software that spells out exactly what devices and applications user can access, says securing USB sticks and other removable media is key. He says attackers have begun launching "deliverable" attacks where they steal and infect USB sticks with Trojans, for instance, to gather data or for other hacking purposes.
The PC or endpoint on a stick -- where you plug your USB stick into a monitor at Starbucks, for instance -- will also pose some serious risks in the future, notes Szerszen, who will participate on an RSA panel that discusses that issue.
But what about those "it won't happen to me" organizations that think they don't have much of value to lose? "It's a big error to think you don't have anything valuable," says Dave Drab, a principal for Xerox Global Services and former FBI agent who used to investigate the U.S. mafia, and later, terrorist cases.
Drab, who is giving a presentation at RSA on securing trade secrets, says such information requires an additional layer of protection. And it's a matter of both locking them down with technology, as well as educating users on their defense. "Trade secrets are the final frontier of the information security evolution," he says. "They are an enormous part of a company's value. Look at the Googles of the world who live and thrive on their ideas."
He suggests that enterprises create internal trade-secret councils made up of security and departmental representatives that can build a cohesive security strategy for their intellectual property.
What's next for data leakage technology? Devin Redmond, director of Websense's security products group, says to watch for more holistic methods for dealing with data leakage.
"Look for a more unified approach in protecting data and users, where you look for the data," he says. "Some vendors look at data in motion, some at the endpoint, and some at the data at rest.
"A lot of the announcements and conversations will be around unifying those... and looking at data in use," he says.
And beware. Once insider threat is better contained, attackers are likely to move up a level -- planting malware in the enterprise applications themselves, for instance, says Jason Anderson, vice president of engineering at Lancope.
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading