Dell takes on corporate security with new suite

The Dell Endpoint Security Suite offers a set of interconnected capabilities that secure the data on employee laptops and desktop computers

Dell is getting deeper into the business of securing corporate networks, releasing a new integrated security suite based on encryption technology it acquired when it purchased Credent in 2012.

The Dell Endpoint Security Suite offers a set of interconnected capabilities that secure data on employee laptops and desktop computers, through the use of authentication, encryption, and threat protection technologies.

Organizations can elect to include the suite on the laptops and desktop computers they order from Dell, and the software can work on non-Dell devices as well.

The software package is aimed primarily at mid-size businesses that may not have adequate in-house security staff, said Brett Hansen, executive director of end user computing software and mobility at Dell.

"The number of security professionals available to be hired is limited. They are being gobbled up by larger companies or by security-focused companies," Hansen said.

Until now, Dell has offered a number of standalone security software products, such as ControlPoint access technology, and licensed a few third party products under its own name. This product, though, is Dell's first comprehensive security package for the enterprise.

An integrated suite can ease management because all its components work together, with minimal configuration. Dell surveyed its customers found that 60 percent would prefer a consolidated single provider for its security software products.

Administrators can manage all the devices under their purview within a single console. The console shows how many devices comply with the organization's security settings. It can also generate status and compliance reports.

The Dell software differs from other enterprise security suites in that it encrypts a user's data, rather than the entire hard drive.

Full-disk encryption has issues, Hansen said. If a password is lost, the entire device is essentially useless. Even more problematic is that in full disk encryption, entire programs are encrypted. For a program to be updated, it must be unencrypted first, which is time-consuming.

Dell's data-based encryption, developed by Credent, keeps the data secured even as it is moved to other devices, such as a thumb drive or a portable tablet computer.

"An administrator can control the key regardless of where the data goes," Hansen said. "I can retract that key and all that data remains encrypted."

The authentication component can work with existing Active Directory or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) in-house authentication systems, and add additional authentication methods such as the use of fingerprints or smart cards.

The threat protection component is designed to protect against all Internet attacks, such as virus or malware attacks. Dell licensed this software from another security vendor, though Hansen declined to say which company.

Earlier this year, insurance company Anthem suffered a data breach that exposed records of 78.8 million records.

In November, Sony Pictures Entertainment found that its computers were infiltrated by malicious attackers, who, using malware to breach employee computers, leaked much sensitive company information.

With its entry into enterprise security, Dell is competing with other offerings from the likes of Blue Coat, Check Point, and Trend Micro.

The software costs $100 per user, though discounts can be enjoyed through volume purchasing and bundled packages with hardware.

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