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Vontu Buy Puts Symantec At Head Of DLP Field

With its $350 million purchase of Vontu, Symantec jumped to the head of the pack as a digital loss prevention company and now it's looking to build on this purchase to get into the enterprise security market it has long coveted.

The two companies were already on familiar terms. Symantec was a reseller of Vontu's DLP products and Vontu frequently targeted the same customers as Symantec. For Vontu, it's a chance to expand its customer reach, since Symantec has much longer arms.

"We had just started going global, so Symantec gives us a new market to approach and Symantec's government business is an untapped market for us. Also, there are appliances and the mid-sized market is new for us," said Steve Roop, vice president of products and marketing at Vontu, during a conference call Tuesday discussing the deal.

For its part, Symantec said it will be the only vendor to offer security at the endpoint (meaning client computers), the network and storage. The company plans to both integrate Vontu's DLP products with its own, and sell them as standalone offerings for use with other products.

"Overall, our DLP product strategy is a best-of-both-worlds strategy," said Ken Schneider, CTO of Symantec's security and data management group. "We're going to pursue best in class for the standalone DLP products as well as deliver the critical integrations Symantec customers are expecting."

He added that given the growth the company is expecting in DLP, Symantec plans to accelerate the R&D investment in the DLP technology beyond what Vontu would have been able to do on its own.

Loss prevention software seems to be popular these days. Trend Micro recently acquired a DLP company called Provilla and McAfee snapped up SafeBoot, another DLP firm, last month. But they weren't as prominent as Vontu, which makes Symantec an instant leader in the DLP space, according to one analyst.

"As security is less about securing the infrastructure and more about securing the data, Symantec needed something in that space and it not only got a product but they bought leadership with Vontu," Jon Oltsik, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, told InternetNews.com.

"It definitely helps Symantec, it compliments their desktop and gateway products, it gets them into it governance discussions they weren't in before and it gives them another door into the enterprise," Oltsik added.

While all the attention and worry has been over the malicious hacker breaking in to a company to steal vital information, the fact is most employees are the biggest threat a company faces. Lost notebooks, data copied to USB thumb drives or sent out via IM are a much greater threat.

Schneider estimates that 96 percent of data-loss incidents Symantec sees are insider incidents that are the result of accidents, ill-informed employees or people who have violated business processes. Occasionally, it's a malcontent employee out to cause harm. Only four percent of incidents are the result of outsiders breaking into the enterprise network.

The Vontu DLP software allows for automated enforcement of policies by doing things like notifying an employee that they've mailed data to a home account that shouldn't have gone out of the system or copied something to a USB drive that they shouldn't have.

"Companies see these incidents go down 90 percent when they turn DLP on. So there is a way to modify human behavior and educate people not to do foolish things," Kit Robinson, a spokesperson for Vontu, told InternetNews.com.