Heading to San Francisco

It’s a bit last minute, but I’ll be out in San Francisco next week for a panel at Oracle OpenWorld. I’m still working on my plans, but the panel is on Wednesday the 14th. I’m trying to decide how long to stay, so if you’re interested in meeting drop me a line… Share:

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Understanding And Selecting A DLP Solution: Part 7, The Selection Process

Welcome to the last part of our series on understanding and selecting a data loss prevention/content monitoring and filtering solution. Over the past 6 entries we’ve focused on the different components of solutions and the technologies that underlie them. Today, we’ll close the series with recommendations on how to run the selection process and pick the right solution for your organization. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 As we’ve discussed, DLP solutions can protect a wide range of data under a wide variety of circumstances, which makes DLP a particularly dangerous technology to acquire without the proper preparation. While there’s somewhat of a feature consensus among major players, how these features are implemented varies widely from vendor to vendor. I’ve also seen some organizations jump on the DLP bandwagon without having any idea how they’d like to use their new solution. In other cases, I’ve talked to clients complaining about high false positives while failing to turn on features in the product they’ve already bought that could materially improve accuracy. I’ve probably talked to over 100 organizations that have evaluated and deployed DLP, and based on their experiences I recommend a three phase selection process. Most of this is no different than the average procurement process, but there are a few extra recommendations specific to DLP- especially in the first phase. This process is skewed for larger organizations, so small to mid-size enterprises will need to scale back and adjust to match your resources. Define Needs and Prepare Your Organization Before you start looking at any tools, you need to understand why you need DLP, how you plan on using it, and the business processes around creating policies and managing incidents. Identify business units that need to be involved and create a selection committee: We tend to include two kinds of business units in the DLP selection process- content owners with sensitive data to protect, and content protectors with the responsibility for enforcing controls over the data. Content owners include those business units that hold and use the data. Content protectors tend to include departments like human resources, IT security, corporate legal, compliance, and risk management. Once you identify the major stakeholders, you’ll want to bring them together for the next few steps. Define what you want to protect: Start by listing out the kinds of data, as specifically as possible, that you plan on using DLP to protect. We typically break content out into three categories- personally identifiable information (PII, including healthcare, financial, and other data), corporate financial data, and intellectual property. The first two tend to be more structured and will drive you towards certain solutions, while IP tends to be less structured, bringing different content analysis requirements. Even if you want to protect all kinds of content, use this process to specify and prioritize, preferably on paper. Decide how you want to protect it and set expectations: In this step you will answer two key questions. First, in what channels/phases do you want to protect the data? This is where you decide if you just want basic email monitoring, or if you want comprehensive data-in-motion, data-at-rest, and data-in-use protection. I suggest you be extremely specific, listing out major network channels, data stores, and endpoint requirements. The second question is what kind of enforcement do you plan on implementing? Monitoring and alerting only? Email filtering? Automatic encryption? You’ll get a little more specific in the formalized requirements later, but you should have a good idea of your expectations at this point. Also, don’t forget that needs may change over time, and I recommend you break requirements into short term (within 6 months of deployment), mid-term (12-18 months after deployment), and long-term (up to 3 years after deployment). Roughly outline process workflow: One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a successful DLP deployment is failure to prepare the enterprise. In this stage you define your expected workflows for creating new protection policies and handling incidents involving insiders and external attackers. Which business units are allowed to request data to protect? Who is responsible for building the policies? When a policy is violated, what’s the workflow to remediate? When is HR notified? Corporate legal? Who handles day to day policy violations? Is it a technical security role, or non-technical, like a compliance officer? The answers to these kinds of questions will guide you towards different solutions that best meet your workflow needs. By the completion of this phase you will have defined key stakeholders, convened a selection team, prioritized the data you want to protect, determined where you want to protect it, and roughed out workflow requirements for building policies and remediating incidents. Formalize Requirements This phase can be performed by a smaller team working under a mandate from the selection committee. Here, the generic requirements determined in phase 1 are translated into specific technical requirements, while any additional requirements are considered. For example, any requirements for directory integration, gateway integration, data storage, hierarchical deployments, endpoint integration, and so on. Hopefully this series gives you a good idea of what to look for, and you can always refine these requirements after you proceed in the selection process and get a better feel for how the products work. At the conclusion of this stage you develop a formal RFI (Request For Information) to release to the vendors, and a rough RFP (Request For Proposals) that you’ll clean up and formally issue in the evaluation phase. Evaluate Products As with any products it’s sometimes difficult to cut through the marketing hype to figure out if a product really meets your needs. The following steps should minimize your risk and help you feel fully confident in your final decision: Issue the RFI: This is the procurement equivalent of pulling the trigger on a starting gun at the start of an Olympic 100 meter dash. Be prepared for all the sales calls. If you’re a smaller organization, start by sending your RFI to a trusted VAR and email

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It’s Official- Symantec Really Buying Vontu

From the press release: CUPERTINO, Calif. – November 5, 2007 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Vontu, the leader in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions, for $350 million, which will be paid in cash and assumed options. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, subject to receiving regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. I’ll post some analysis of all the M&A activity in DLP tomorrow; for now, I need to go off and finish my last post in the DLP series. Congrats to the Vontu team, and it will be really interesting to see if all the recent acquisitions finally give the DLP market a boost. Share:

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TidBITS Article on Leopard Up

You Apple geeks may have noticed I’ve been writing more over at TidBITS, that’s where I tend to put my less-technical Mac articles, especially those that aren’t about security. This week it’s more on the Leopard firewall. It’s less technical than my summary here, but goes into a little more depth. Overall I think it’s been blown a bit out of proportion- I don’t consider the firewall enough of an obstacle that you shouldn’t upgrade, but you do need to understand how it works and we all need to keep the pressure on Apple to clean it up. Share:

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