Solving the data loss prevention (DLP) puzzle and using IRM for encryption
By Simon Thorpe on Jan 06, 2010
An interesting strategy guide was published recently from InfoWorld. Titled "Strategies for endpoint security", it addresses concerns and challenges businesses have regarding the protection of endpoints, namely laptops and desktop computers.
One section of the guide which caught my eye was "Five technologies that will help solve the DLP puzzle." The article discusses the following areas where "before embarking on a data loss prevention program, enterprises must first determine the essential technical ingredients.".
The first subject tackled is that of classifying information in the first place. DLPs most valuable functionality is the ability to monitor many points in the enterprise and detect the storage or movement of documents, emails and websites that contain sensitive or classified data. However one problem with DLP is how do you configure it to reflect a well designed and understood information classification policy? William Pfeifer states that "You cannot protect everything, Therefore methodology, technology, policy and training is involved in this stage to isolate the asset (or assets) that one is protecting and then making that asset the focus of the protection." Nick Selby, former research director for enterprise security at The 451 Group and CEO/co-founder of Cambridge Infosec Associates, then goes onto say the key is to develop a data classification system that has a fighting chance of working. To that end, lumping data into too few or too many buckets is a recipe for failure. "The magic number tends to be three or four buckets--public, internal use only, classified, and so on," he says.
So the recommendation is that DLP should be configured with a simple and easy to understand set of classifications. Keeping things simple in the complex world of security dramatically reduces chance of human error and increases usability. Oracle IRM is a technology that has had this message designed within its core from day one, it has a very powerful and yet simple to configure and deploy classification system. This is what makes the union of IRM and DLP such a compelling story when it comes to a comprehensive data loss prevention solution that can actually be deployed and used at an enterprise scale.
The second subject approached in the article is encryption. It's worth repeating the full statement here...
"This is a tricky one [encryption], as some security pros will tell you encryption does not equal DLP. And that's true to a point. As former Gartner analyst and Securosis founder Rich Mogull puts it, encryption is often sold as a DLP product, but it doesn't do the entire job by itself. Those polled don't disagree with that statement. But they do believe encryption is a necessary part of DLP. "The only thing [encryption doesn't cover] is taking screen shots and printing them out or smuggling them out on a thumb drive. Not sure I have a solution to that one."
No worries Rich, Oracle and Symantec have exactly the solution you are looking for. DLP detects that a document or email contains sensitive information and IRM encrypts and secures it. IRM not only encrypts the content, but it can limit the ability to take screenshots, stop printing, manage who can edit the content, who can see formulae in Excel spreadsheets, even allow for users to search across hard disks and content systems for information inside encrypted documents to which they have legitimate access...
The article continues, "Stiennon says that while all encryption vendors are not DLP vendors, applying encryption is a critical component to DLP. "It could be as simple as enforcing a policy," he says. "When you see spreadsheets as attachments, encrypt them."
Or more specifically, when you see any sensitive document or email, seal them with Oracle IRM! For more information on how IRM and DLP technologies can work together, have a read of this.