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SenSage Gets SIM Patent

Security information management vendor receives patent for its method of handling security data

SenSage Inc. has received a U.S. patent for its method of optimizing the storage and analysis of security event logs, according to company officials.

In an announcement scheduled for June 6, SenSage will report that it has obtained U.S. Patent #7,024,414, which describes a way to store voluminous event log data in a compressed fashion so it can be analyzed more quickly and stored less expensively.

IT organizations collect a massive amount of information each day from system and network logs that show changes in configuration or performance of a particular device. These logs provide the "clues" that IT detectives need to identify unauthorized access to data, either for security reasons, or to ensure regulatory compliance.

But many enterprises now find they are swimming in log data collected by security applications as well as the systems and network devices themselves. And because some regulations require enterprises to store log data for as long as five years, IT departments now face the question of where to store it and how to analyze it once it has been stored.

"When you think about it, event log data goes against the traditional advantages of a relational database because it's never deleted, and the records are never changed," notes Peter Christy, principal and co-founder of the Internet Research Group consultancy. "That's why a traditional RDBMS isn't the greatest platform for managing event data."

Vendors of security information management (SIM) tools, which collect and analyze event data to help enterprises find and fix security problems quickly and efficiently, have been developing proprietary database technology for some time, as evidenced in current offerings from companies such as Intellitactics and eIQ Networks. However, SenSage is the first company to successfully patent its method of storing and managing event data.

SenSage's patent centers around its method of data compression, which allows enterprises to pull event data together in a smaller footprint than is done in other SIM repositories. The SenSage method lets users analyze event data approximately 40 times faster than would be possible in a traditional RDBMS, which means they can isolate and repair potential trouble spots more quickly.

"We've looked at some of the other systems out there, but we're about three to five times faster than the closest competitor we've found so far," says Adam Sah, a founder of SenSage and the architect of the patented technology.

The compression technology also means that IT organizations can store up to 90 percent less data while still meeting regulatory guidelines for maintaining event data, officials say.

"SenSage has an interesting approach to compliance," says Christy. "Most vendors try to show that the whole business system is in compliance, which is next to impossible. SenSage follows closely what auditors do manually, which is to show that there's no evidence that anything is out of compliance, and that can be a lot faster and less complex."

On the security side, the SenSage compression technology can help enterprises conduct an investigation of a particular exploit, such as phishing on a particular group of servers or clients more swiftly, officials say.

SenSage's advantage may be short-term, as SIM vendors are developing new, proprietary repository technologies at a rapid pace, observers noted. "But [the patent] may now discourage investors from putting money into competitors that use methods close to ours, for fear of problems with infringement," Sah says.

The SenSage technology is available now at prices of $100,000 to $350,000, depending on configuration.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Organizations mentioned in this story

  • eIQnetworks Inc.
  • Intellitactics Inc.
  • Internet Research Group
  • SenSage Inc.