RealTime IT News

Security Luminaries Start RSA on a Data Tip

Symantec  and McAfee , in their quests to compete for dollars in the market for security technology, are both using the assets they gleaned from acquisitions in key product releases at the RSA Conference 2007 in San Francisco today.

Symantec, whose CEO John Thompson will give a keynote speech at the show tomorrow, has issued new network access control products that dictate who has access to what data on a corporate network.

The company has upgraded its Symantec Network Access Control (SNAC) 5.1 software to include agentless NAC enforcement, Mac OS X agent support and an integrated 802.1X supplicant.

The software runs on the Symantec's Enforcer appliance, which the company purchased when it bought Sygate in 2005, a machine that helps ensure business networks, branch offices and mobile employees comply with security policy when accessing networks from desktops, laptops or handheld computers.

Rich Langston, senior product manager at Symantec, said offering Mac support will give customers more choices with which to protect their corporate assets.

SNAC will be available Feb. 7, 2007, directly and through the network of Symantec's channel partners, and worldwide in mid-to-late March 2007.

Symantec, which recently bid to buy Altiris to boost its IT management holdings, expects to compete with Cisco Systems , Juniper Networks , Extreme Networks and several other vendors in the NAC space.

Microsoft is also expected to come out strong with its NAC vision, which it calls Network Access Protection (NAP), when the Windows Server appears later in 2007.

McAfee meanwhile is no less focused on preventing data from getting into the wrong hands.

The software maker today took the assets from its acquisition of Onigma last year and delivered the McAfee Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Host.

DLP Host, as the name suggests, is host-based, so the agent sits like a security guard on desktops or laptops to stop the leak of confidential data, which happens both through malicious and unintentional mishaps.

Vimal Solanki, senior director of product marketing at McAfee, said the DLP Host prevents data from leaving computers through e-mail, instant messaging, printed documents, USB drives and CD-ROMs.

"We are all data leakers," Solanki said. "When we transmit data, we put it at risk, or when we print something and forget to pick it up, or copy something onto a USB drive and lose it in an airline seat pocket."

Careless copying or transmission of data aren't the only ways data gets compromised; sometimes disgruntled employees or perpetrators are the culprits, copying data to USBs and e-mailing them from a Web e-mail account to competitors.

Protection against such instances, he argued, is something that today's security gateways can't reliably provide from their positions at the edge of a network.

DLP Host doesn't just protect assets in the workplace; the software works for remote users at home or on the road by enforcing data protection policies even when laptops are disconnected from the corporate network.

Moreover, Solanki said the DLP Host also provides granular policies, authorizing whether someone is permitted to exchange data via e-mail, USB devices or Web mail.

Solanki said such features make McAfee like its chances of cracking into the data leakage market versus vendors WebSense, which recently bought PortAuthority for data leakage technology, Tablus and Vontu.

"It's a crowded market, but we believe our solution and our presence and brand is going to be very well received," he said.

Regardless of who is offering what, evidence suggests that the data leakage market will be big; the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse claims more than 100 million data records of U.S. residents have been exposed due to security breaches since February 2005.

These data losses have wreaked havoc of some corporate entities, causing lost revenues, damage to brand reputation and reduced consumer confidence.