New tools aim to help companies protect sensitive data

They allow administrators to enforce security policies, quarantine data

IT managers looking to protect sensitive data from being compromised by external hackers and malicious insiders are getting more tools for their security arsenal.

Tablus Inc., a vendor of content monitoring tools in San Mateo, Calif., and rival Palisade Systems Inc. in Ames, Iowa, have both released updated versions of their products with features designed to give companies better control over sensitive data such as personally identifiable information.

Tablus' new Content Sentinel tool, released today, offers a feature that allows businesses to scan all servers, desktops, storage devices, laptops and other client devices for the presence of sensitive data, according to CEO Jim Pante.

The tool allows administrators to enforce corporate policies on systems containing sensitive data, he said. Administrators can, for example, delete sensitive information from client systems or quarantine it by preventing the data from being accessed by the user, Pante said.

The new features build on network monitoring capabilities offered by previous Tablus products and makes Content Sentinel among the first in the industry to offer an integrated view of sensitive data, both on the network and at the client level, Pante said.

Palisade's latest PacketSure 4.2 product, which was launched last week, allows companies identify the source and the name of a user responsible for sending out sensitive data over a network, according to company CEO Kurt Shedenhelm.

New algorithms have also been added to bolster PacketSure's ability to detect when structured data such as credit card and account numbers is traveling over any unsecured network protocol, including instant messaging, peer-to-peer, FTP and Web-based e-mail, he said.

Such products address growing corporate concerns over data compromise and the inappropriate use of sensitive information by insiders, said Dan Keldsen, an analyst at Delphi Group, a Perot Systems Corp. company in Boston. "There is a lot of content lying around in desktops and laptops and other devices that is effectively unmanaged," he said.

Sensitive data can be located in databases, spreadsheets, Zip files, laptops and network storage devices. But most of the time companies aren't aware of all the places on a network where sensitive data may exist or how it's being used, he said.

In a Delphi survey done in March, nearly 40% of 485 respondents said they had no idea whether sensitive information had been improperly accessed over the past two years. About 20% said that such data had been improperly accessed by both internal and external parties.

"Rather than waiting for a random audit or for someone to download [sensitive data] to a thumb drive, it's better to be proactive" and take steps to protect it, Keldsen said.

Other vendors offering similar content monitoring tools include PortAuthority Technologies Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif., and Vericept Corp. in Denver.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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