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6/15/2009
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Report: What Enterprises Want From DLP, And What It Really Costs

New InformationWeek Analytics report calculates a 904.5 percent ROI for DLP when the technology prevents a single breach

Enterprises worry most about the cost of operating and purchasing data leakage prevention (DLP) technology, and they want DLP products to include features that alert and prevent security policy violations, according to a new report.

"Risk Intolerant: Defense in Depth And the Rise of Data Loss Prevention," an InformationWeek Analytics report that includes data from a survey of 218 IT decision-makers in North America, also estimates the return on investment when a DLP product prevents just one data breach should alleviate some of the pricing concerns: The report estimates an ROI of 904.5 percent.

The ROI is based on data for a 200-employee retailer with 10,000 customer records (worth $202 apiece). With DLP's total cost of ownership during five years at $182,884 -- including training, installation, and product pricing -- if the DLP product stopped just one data breach, then it would save the company $1,837,116, according to the report's calculations.

But adopting DLP is not exactly a no-brainer for most organizations. According to the report, IT is still struggling to begin focusing on data security versus the tradition of defending desktops, and is facing end-user resistance when it comes to privacy and performance concerns about DLP technology.

"The Achilles' heel of DLP is that the people with access to the most sensitive data are also the people who are powerful enough to exempt themselves from enforcement tools and policies," an IT manager at an engineering and development services firm said in the InformationWeek survey. "Senior managers and sales staff often give short shrift to advice and education about data security. So even in organizations with strict policies, the overall risk is often not reduced sufficiently to justify the expense of DLP or the inconvenience to production employees."

At the top of IT's concerns about DLP are its cost of running and monitoring (67 percent of the respondents) and its price tag (65 percent). Around 40 percent worry about the possible negative impact on their business processes, and 32 percent don't think the technology is mature enough yet to use. Just less than 30 percent are concerned with DLP products generating false positives, and 18 percent with false negatives.

Given that regulatory and compliance requirements are the main factors driving DLP adoption and interest, it's no surprise some of the main features IT wants in these tools have to do with security policy enforcement. Around 64 percent want the tools to alert them on any user actions that violate policy, and 59 percent want the tools to prevent actions that violate policies, such as emailing a sensitive document outside the organization. More than 35 percent are looking for DLP to automatically discover where sensitive information sits on the network and on which machines, and 36 percent want it to report a data breach and match it to a specific regulation or business rule it violates.

Aside from other research data gathered in the IT survey, the report also provides a model strategy for deploying DLP from the network to the endpoint.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor 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 ... View Full Bio

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