RSA - McAfee enters data loss prevention space

McAfee Data Loss Prevention Host monitors data leaving the network

McAfee on Monday announced its foray into the data loss protection market with software designed to guard sensitive information from unauthorized access and transfer at the network, desktop and notebook levels.

Called the McAfee Data Loss Prevention Host, the new software monitors data leaving the network via e-mail, instant messaging, printed documents, USB drives, CD-ROMs and other methods, says Vimal Solank, senior director of product marketing with McAfee. The software sends up alerts when data deemed sensitive -- such as financial documents, customer information, source code or other intellectual property -- is accessed, copied or sent without authorization.

McAfee says its offering differs from gateway-only products that block data from leaving the corporate network at the edge but can't prevent unauthorized copying from a notebook computer to a USB drive, for example.

"Our strong belief is the solution must reside where the data is," says Solanki. "The solution focuses on preventing data loss at the server, desktop and laptop."

With this new product launch, McAfee enters a young but now-crowded market of data loss protection vendors that includes Vontu, Vericept, Websense (which acquired PortAuthority in January), Oakley Networks and many others. This market is quickly growing because data loss protection, or data leak prevention as some call it, has become a significant concern for enterprises of late, says one analyst.

"Security and compliance challenges around information protection and the insider threat have evolved over the past 24 months," says Jonathan Penn, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, in a December report. "Organizations are increasingly interested in their employees' computer activity and are often more concerned about sensitive information leaving their premises than about people getting viruses through e-mail or using the Internet inappropriately."

McAfee's Data Loss Prevention Host comes with a set of default policies that dictate what data in an organization should be considered sensitive, such as documents marked confidential. These policies also say that, for example, e-mail messages with more than three Social Security numbers in them should be flagged, as should all communications with the organization's competitors, says Solanki. In addition, the software learns what specific information a company deems sensitive, taking into consideration federal, industry and corporate regulations.

Administrators also can set policies that determine what action is taken once sensitive information has been copied or sent out of the organization, Solanki continues. Companies can have the software prevent an action from happening and gather the evidence that an attempt was made, or have a pop-up screen appear that confirms the user wants to perform the task, or simply monitor usage. Policies can vary by employee, he says.

Data Loss Prevention Host is available now. Pricing is set per user; for example, an organization with 5,000 to 10,000 users would pay US$47 per user.

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