RSA Preview: Shutting Down Insiders

With the insider threat on the rise, data leakage technology takes higher profile at show

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:

  • First, McAfee will release a new report that confirms our biggest fear: Employees may pose a bigger threat than malicious attacks from the outside.

    • 8e6 Technologies will discuss plans to roll out a new data leakage appliance in about a month that watches outbound traffic and protects against inadvertent or malicious release of confidential data. It will be priced between $75 and $125 per user.

    • BigFix will debut its new data leak product, BigFix DLP that incorporates Provilla's software.

    • Websense will map out its plans for the market, now that it owns leak-prevention vendor Port Authority.

      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

    • McAfee Inc. (NYSE: MFE)

    • Websense Inc. (Nasdaq: WBSN)

    • Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX)

About the Author(s)

Kelly Jackson Higgins, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Editor-in-Chief of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, Virginia Business magazine, and other major media properties. Jackson Higgins was recently selected as one of the Top 10 Cybersecurity Journalists in the US, and named as one of Folio's 2019 Top Women in Media. She began her career as a sports writer in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and earned her BA at William & Mary. Follow her on Twitter @kjhiggins.

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