Tool Provides a Grip on Loose Unix Data

Unstructured data — those Word docs, video files, e-mails and text messages not tethered to a database — can cause a bucket load of worry for IT teams.

Unauthorized access to loose files can lead to data theft. Not knowing who’s accessing what data — as well as when and why — can put intellectual and proprietary information at serious risk.

In addition, storage budgets can be squandered if noncritical data is stored on expensive arrays.

Juniper Networks has those concerns, as well as the ability to see data access and ascertain data use patterns, in mind with latest version of Varonis DatAdvantage 3.5, now in beta-testing. The last update to the application occurred in April 2007.

The big allure for the network infrastructure provider was that the new version announced today incorporates Unix compatibility along with the previous Windows server functionality.

Juniper’s IT security manager, James Nelson, told he was already familiar with DatAdvantage, having deployed the data governance tool to gain control of 10 terabytes of unstructured data on corporate Windows environment. Nelson had just been waiting patiently for Varonis to bring Unix capability into the mix.

[cob:Related_Articles]We have a very collaborative environment, and a big chunk of our engineering data was on NTSF shares so we’ve been waiting for this,” Nelson said. The security leader was already well aware of the benefits when he initiated Unix beta use about six months ago.

“There are file shares everyone’s accessing, and you’re hoping everyone is doing the right thing, but the reality is that people always ask for access but no one ever asks to be removed,” he said. “Over time you’ve lost track of who’s got access, who doesn’t need it and what’s being accessed and why.”

With DatAdvantage 3.5, Nelson’s team now knows the answers to all those questions on both the Unix and Windows environments, as well as achieving storage-space efficiency.

“We know who owns the data, and who’s hitting it and when. We can determine if it’s not active and archive it. It’s a valuable technology as we’re a growing data environment,” he said.

The Unix environment support fills a necessary tool gap, according to Johnnie Konstantas, Varonis’ VP of marketing. “With Unix environments there are enormous applications running and no solution to truly audit and assess file-sharing protocols,” she told “These are robust computing data–intensive environments.”

Varonis is currently running two other beta pilots along with the Juniper Network trial.

DatAdvantage provides visibility into users, groups, and data permissions on all Unix platforms, including AIX, HP-UX, Solaris and Linux. The auditing capabilities (which include monitoring all file access, identifying business owners and making recommendations about access) are available on SPARC-based Solaris servers and Network Appliance filers with this release, with support for additional Unix versions (AIX, HP-UX, Linux) in the future.

According to Varonis, DatAdvantage complements network access control (NAC) solutions, which control what devices are allowed to connect to a network but do not provide visibility or control over data — that is, file and folder permissions.

The new version provides a single user interface for both operating system environments, and provides automated and scalable data access controls that lets data managers determine access privileges based on usage patterns and business need. Reporting capabilities provide granular data audit details down to the file level.

Varonis believes its potential Unix customer base includes a wide range of enterprises across a broad scope of industries, from financial services to pharmaceutical environments.

Research reports estimate 80 to 90 percent of a company’s intellectual and confidential information is currently in unstructured formats, so the ability to manage and better secure that data is invaluable, said Konstantas. She added that unstructured data tends to grow at twice to three times the rate of database information.

“A good portion of this data is created in Unix environments where rich media, engineering, software development and other similar applications are generating content at vigorous rates,” said Bill Lundell, research analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), in a statement. “Given the criticality of this information, it is imperative that organizations find a means to control and audit access to these files,” he added. ESG expected unstructured data to approach 20 petabytes by 2010.

Pricing is based on the number of data users. Licenses for 1 to 250 users start at $25,000.

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