Is the Term “DLP” Finally Meaningless?

As most of you know, I’ve been covering DLP for entirely too long. It’s a major area of our research, with an entire section of our site dedicated to it. To be honest, I never really liked the term “Data Loss Prevention”. When this category first appeared, I used the term Content Monitoring and Filtering. The vendors didn’t like it, but since I wrote (with a colleague) the Gartner Magic Quadrant, they sort of rolled with it. The vendors preferred DLP since it sounded better for marketing purposes (I have to admit, it’s sexier than CMF). Once market momentum took over and end users started using DLP more than CMF, I rolled with it and followed the group consensus. I never liked Data Loss Prevention since, in my mind, it could mean pretty much anything that “prevents data loss”. Which is, for the most part, any security tool on the market. My choice was to either jump on the DLP bandwagon, or stick to my guns and use CMF, even though no one would know what I was talking about. Thus I transitioned over, started using DLP, and focused my efforts on providing clear definitions and advice related to the technology. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve come to realize that DLP, as a term for a specific category of technology, is pretty much dead. I’ve been invited to multiple DLP conferences/speaking opportunities, none of which are focused on what I’d consider DLP tools. I’ve been asked to help work on DLP training materials that don’t even have a chapter on DLP tools. I’ve had multiple end-user conversations on DLP… almost always referring to a different technology. The DLP vendors did such a good job of coming up with a sexy name for their technology that the rest of the world decided to use it… even when they had nothing to do with DLP. Thus, any vendor reading this can consider this post my official recommendation that you drop the term DLP, and move to Content Monitoring and Protection (CMP – a term Chris Hoff first suggested that I’ve glommed onto). Or just make something else up. I’ll continue using DLP on this site, but the non-DLP vendors have won and the term is completely diluted and no longer refers to a specific technology. Thus I’ll stop being incredibly anal about it, and you might see me associated with “DLP” when it has nothing to do with pure-play DLP as I’ve historically defined it. That said, when I’m writing about it I still intend to use the term DLP in my personal writing in accordance with my very specific definition (below), and will start using ‘CMP’ more heavily. Data Loss Prevention/Content Monitoring and Protection is: Products that, based on central policies, identify, monitor, and protect data at rest, in motion, and in use through deep content analysis. For the record, I get all uppity about mangled definitions because all too often they’re used to create market confusion, and reduce value to users. People end up buying things that don’t do what they expected. Share:

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Normally, when a company buys software that does not work, the IT staff gets in trouble, they try to get your money back, purchase different software or some other type of corrective action. When a state or local government buys software that does not work, what do they do? Attempt to alter human behavior of course! Taking a page from the TSA playbook, the department of motor vehicles in four states adopt a ‘No Smiles’ policy when taking photos. Why? Because their facial recognition software don’t work none too good: “Neutral facial expressions” are required at departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia. That means you can’t smile, or smile very much. Other states may follow … The serious poses are urged by DMVs that have installed high-tech software that compares a new license photo with others that have already been shot. When a new photo seems to match an existing one, the software sends alarms that someone may be trying to assume another driver’s identity.” Great idea! Hassle people getting their drivers licenses by telling them they cannot smile because a piece of software the DMV bought sucks so bad at facial recognition it cannot tell one person from another. I know those pimply face teenagers can be awfully tricky, but really, did they need to spend the money to catch a couple dozen kids a year? Did someone get embarrassed because they issued a kid a drivers license with the name “McLovin”? Was the DHS grant money burning a hole in their pockets? Seriously, fess up that you bought busted software and move on. There are database cross reference checks that should be able to easily spot identity re-use. Besides, kids will figure out how to trick the software far more easily than someone with half a brain. Admitting failure is the first step to recovery. Share:

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