Removable devices provide new opportunities for security firms

The popularity of removable network devices such as iPods and USBs has spawned a new market for security firms which are racing to manage such devices and keep networks safe.

This week at the CeBIT trade show in Sydney, Centennial software and GFi will showcase their latest device auditing and monitoring products.

The products are targeted at enterprises to help monitor employee use of the network and minimise misuse and theft of corporate info.

Over the past nine years, Centennial Software has developed a name as an asset management company with its flagship product, Discovery. However, towards the end of 2005, it released DeviceWall, built specifically to treat the problem of auditing removable media devices.

Organisations couldput in firewalls, protect data through email filtering or anti virus, Centennial's APAC regional manager, Howard Waterson, said. But attempts to protect data flow both inwards and outwards on a network could be beaten by employees plugging in a USB key into a desktop and walking out with that data.

Device Wall audits devices such as iPods, CDs, USB keys or cameras. Typically, products which are audited in a company are network devices such as servers, routers, and switches.

After an audit, it tells an organisation who is plugging in the devices. It also provides policy management, allowing IT managers to provide permissions for users and groups.

"It is a percentage gain," Waterson said. "You cut out an area of risk."

GFI, which will showcase its suite of nine security products at CeBIT including GFI MailSecurity and GFI LANguard Network Security Scanner, will promote its latest offering, GFI EndPointSecurity, which was released in March.

EndPointSecurity supported connectable devices through USB/FireWire such as wireless cards, cameras, iPods, PDAs as well as modems, Zip drives and network adaptors, GFi regional manager, Michael Early, said.

In the past GFi had the ability to turn devices 'on' or 'off', he said. Now it could provide more granular access, whichmeant a user could be permitted to read from a USB key on their PC, but not allowed to write to it.

Centennial and GFi compete in a market which is also occupied by vendors such as SmartLine, the maker of DeviceLock and Layton Technology with its DeviceShield product.