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Data loss prevention

01 Aug 2008

The reality is that too many organisations are leaving themselves open to data loss incidents in one form or another — whether it be a malicious attempt to leak confidential information or simple human error.

Alarmingly, research conducted in the US, UK and Australia has shown that between 15 and 20% of organisations have suffered data loss in the last 12 to 18 months, and around half of those have suffered more than one incident.

The global research also indicated that, on the whole, organisations are still not locking down the transfer of sensitive information appropriately. Email is the most popular method of transferring confidential data and yet businesses still admit to losing data via this medium. No doubt, these global trends are also evident in the New Zealand market.

Without current security breach legislation in place, it’s up to security vendors and their partners to educate the business community about responsible content security practices. For many organisations the concept of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is a daunting one. It may be on their agenda, but perhaps they don’t know where to start in terms of assessing and addressing their specific requirements. Do they need to protect themselves at the endpoint or the gateway – or both? How do they go about it? How much of the IT budget will it eat up?

Worse still, some organisations make the assumption that DLP is simply about ensuring no one in the company looses a laptop. Just as common is the perception that content security is only about blocking out the bad — preventing spam, viruses and the like, from entering an organisation. But, what about protecting the good, and often confidential, content from leaving the organisation? What about guarding valuable IP?  If you think about it, restricted information falling into the wrong hands has the potential to cause far more damage than spam sitting in an inbox.

What’s the answer?

Best practice content security demands a two-pronged approach: comprehensive content security technology and a commitment to ongoing policy enforcement.

There’s no doubt that there are a lot of IT security solutions out there and, unfortunately, a limited understanding when it comes to just how they compare. As technology distributors and resellers, you’re probably well aware of this already. It becomes hard to differentiate between offerings — to establish which will address an organisation’s needs and represent the best value for money.

It’s really quite logical. The only way an organisation can achieve effective content security is to implement a solution that offers both inbound and outbound protection using deep content inspection. To protect just one of these means only half the job is being done.

For any content security solution to be effective, the related policies must be enforced across the organisation. This process begins with policy education at all layers of an organisation and continues with a dedication to governance and control.

With an increasing number of high profile security breaches being reported in the news, businesses must expect to be put under the spotlight. Legislation or no legislation, businesses are going to be put under increasing scrutiny by key stakeholders, including employees, partners, customers, shareholders, industry bodies and consumers, to ensure they are managing and protecting data responsibly. 

What does this all mean for you, the technology channel? The challenge is set to help educate businesses on how they can make their spam budgets work harder to deliver complete content security that blocks the bad, protects the good and prevents abuse.     

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