Endpoint Data Protection - A Market Update

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Written By: Nigel Stanley
Published: 6th June, 2008
Content Copyright © 2008 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

Bloor Research has just released a Market Update covering Endpoint Data Protection. But what does this mean?

An endpoint is defined as any user device capable of storing electronic data and encompasses traditional PCs through to smart handheld devices, cell phones, memory sticks, CDs and DVDs.

Data protection is now a strategic imperative and the purchase of a solution will increasingly be influenced by business executives. Similarly it is the role of IT security to step up to the mark and support the safe and secure use of these business tools using a strategic approach. This is far more cost effective than tactical endpoint solutions that address the problem piecemeal.

The following technology areas comprise the endpoint protection domain:

  • Hard disk encryption
  • Removable storage encryption
  • Internal and external PC port and device connection control
  • External device control
  • Multi-factor authentication products
  • Mobile device encryption and control
  • File type control

As organisations move from securing their basic IT systems through to managing their ever disappearing perimeters they will quickly realise that the threat of data loss from an insider is probably the biggest security risk they will face.

In the majority of instances this threat is from an incompetent/non-malicious source rather than a competent/malicious source. In other words the threat is due to accident rather than a deliberate criminal act.

Practically the steps that need to be taken to protect an organisation against endpoint data loss are the same whichever threat you are dealing with. What is important is that any technology that is implemented is part of a strategic approach that encompasses user education and policy enforcement. A specific problem that is dealt with by papering over the cracks will soon reveal its weaknesses.

Vendors are starting to look for new and innovative ways to protect data and, where necessary, will partner with or purchase another vendor to bolster their product portfolio. Potential customers need to be aware of this when reviewing products as vendor integration inevitably takes time.

A number of smaller vendors have very compelling point solutions that can be deployed quickly and easily. This is a very attractive way to solve a pressing business problem but care needs to be taken that the solution will fit an organisation's IT security strategy. Medium to long term, a quick tactical fix can end up causing significant problems to later strategic implementations.

Smaller vendors also need to be examined for their stability. Whilst a number offer what appears to be a good solution, their lack of infrastructure and geographical remoteness could be a matter of concern. Having multiple offices is no guarantee of vendor success, but it does give the majority of buyers a better feeling of confidence. Lack of references and public case studies should further concern potential purchasers.

Key management has, and continues to be, a problem for encryption vendors. With today's often transient workforce, key recovery has become a major headache for many organisations who appear, in many cases, to regret taking on system wide encryption in the first instance. Many vendors are looking for new ways of solving the encryption key problem but very few, if any, seem to have solved it to satisfactorily.

Some vendors are entering the endpoint protection market as a result of their skills in remote software management, auditing and deployment. Care needs to be taken with such vendors as they still need to demonstrate an understanding of the security issues rather than the administration issues alone.

The endpoint protection market is set to grow and develop in line with new threat vectors and technological improvements, and both vendors and customers need to monitor the domain regularly to ensure they are not left behind.

Vendors researched for the paper include; PGP, GuardianEdge, Credant Technologies, Checkpoint, Lumension Security, Vontu, McAfee, Utimaco, Symantec, BeCrypt, Microsoft, BigFix, Centennial, Entrust, GFI, DES, Safend, iAnywhere, Information Security Corp, Mobile Armor, TrueCrypt, WinMagic and DeKart.

The paper can be downloaded free of charge from www.BloorAnswers.com.

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