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PortAuthority Takes Aim at Data Leaks

It happens all the time: employees transfer information outside of the enterprise that isn't ever supposed to leave. Sometimes it's e-mail, other times it's via a blog and, on occasion, it's just simply printed.

How do you stop the data leaks? PortAuthority Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., thinks it has the solution.

The recently released PortAuthority Version 4 claims to be able to protect enterprises against electronic data leakage -- regardless of whether the transmission medium is via the Web, e-mail or a network based printer.

At the heart of the PortAuthority solution is a technology that is transparent to the end user. It does not require the content to be tagged by a user or that some kind of software agent is even required on the end user's PC.

How it's supposed to work is that all network traffic is passed through an Internet Content Adaptation Protocol compliant Web proxy. Such proxies are in use by many enterprises today and are offered by vendors such as BlueCoat, NetApp and Cisco. The popular open source Squid Web proxy is also ICAP compliant.

PortAuthority 4.0 scans all outgoing traffic, be it over the Web, e-mail or a network printer against a granular policy filter that determines whether the content may be sent.

PortAuthority's PreciseID technology, which is baked into the solution, is supposed to automatically fingerprint content and provide deep scanning capability to help ensure that confidential information does not leave the enterprise.

In addition to a software-based deployment, PortAuthority now is also offering its technology for version 4.0 in a Linux-based appliance form factor as well.

Raj Dhingra, VP of PortAuthority's Marketing & Business Development, explained that deployment of the technology has no noticeable performance implications.

"There is a negligible impact on throughput of milliseconds or less," Dhingra said.

Dhingra noted that when it comes to data leakage, many times people just don't know how big the problem is and how they solve it. However, in the last several years, Dhingra noted that media reports of various large-scale confidential information leaks have helped to raise awareness of the issue.

"IT security has been worrying about how to keep the bad stuff out and what we've seen is now a focus on keeping the good stuff in," he said.