Verdasys MSIP Hosted Service Brings Data-Loss Prevention to the Cloud

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2013-01-18

Verdasys MSIP Hosted Service Brings Data-Loss Prevention to the Cloud

Called Verdasys Managed Service for Information Protection (MSIP), the service combines the essential elements for DLP and data governance into an easy-to-deploy, managed-service offering that centralizes data security administration.

MSIP combines many of the company's signature technologies, such as Verdasys' Digital Guardian platform of data protection technologies, encryption services and content inspection capabilities to create what Verdasys calls a fully managed "all-inclusive [software as a service] for information protection."

While that terminology rings of marketing mumbo-jumbo, Verdasys is striving to prove that MSIP can become the sole solution that enterprises need to gain control of their data, wherever it is stored, used or put in motion.

I dove into Verdasys MSIP to identify the service's strengths and weaknesses. The company provided me with a pilot management account, instruction and extensive support. First and foremost, I found the MSIP service very easy to deploy and manage, despite the overall complexity of the technology. This complexity is a natural result of the range of capabilities that Verdasys offers, which covers the gamut from data encryption for removable devices to examining data in motion for policy violations.

Obviously, as a service, there are a few prerequisites that must be in place to make MSIP work effectively. One of the first steps is to determine what must be protected. Of course, most enterprises have an inventory of IT systems, lists of applications and databases as well as user lists.

However, those lists and inventories are usually not up-to-date, and often miss critical systems, new applications or different categories of users. Simply put, it's vitally important to know what must be protected, otherwise data can slip through chinks in the armor, putting critical information at risk.

The solution to this dilemma is to perform a comprehensive discovery and risk assessment across the enterprise, and Verdasys provides the tools to make that happen. In short, MSIP can monitor machines and the network, all its users and all the data to determine what lives where and what needs to be administered. What's more, the risk assessment and discovery process has the added value of uncovering security holes, failed patches, unauthorized systems and data usage that escapes current policy controls.

Verdasys relies on its Digital Guardian technology to process discovery chores through a host agent that is installed on each subject system. The same Agents monitor data events and show data usage activities building out the risk-assessment results.

Verdasys MSP Hosted Service Brings Data Loss Prevention to the Cloud

Digital Guardian Host Agents are available for several different platforms, giving full forensic details on where data resides, who accesses it and how it is transacted. The Digital Guardian Host Agents are the cornerstone of the MSIP service and are responsible for everything, from forensic analysis to policy enforcement and data encryption.

One of the primary strengths of MSIP is comprehensive reporting, MSIP customers can access their real-time risk intelligence through a configurable reporting dashboard where they can filter and drill into reports by policy rule, file name, type, data sensitivity, user, alert and event. All MSIP reports and alerts are "live" and built on encrypted event metadata continuously captured by agents and automatically uploaded to Verdasys' secured hosting facilities for analysis.

Digital Guardian metadata are sound enough to serve as evidence in a legal action, and able to recreate any chain of events in complete context with forensic accuracy without requiring any actual sensitive content to be recorded, stored or transmitted.

That customizability makes MSIP a very powerful tool for forensics purposes, as well as compliance auditing. Not only can MSIP enforce compliance, it can also report on it and remediate problems, as well.

As a managed service, MSIP's real-world advantages include the following:

• No hardware, software or dedicated staff is required.

• It has rapid deployment and time-to-value.

• It has minimal operational impact.

• It is a subscription-based service (OPEX).

Those advantages, combined with the data-governance capabilities, policy-based enforcement and extensive forensics capabilities make MSIP a must for enterprises that are struggling with DLP and compliance issues.

Securing data and data-loss prevention can be complex endeavors. MSIP attempts to reduce the complexity of those chores by offering extensive support. Verdasys' own experts are on hand to manage, monitor, deploy and support MSIP, taking much of the burden away from customer IT departments.

Of course, those services come at a price and are bundled in with the overall cost of the service. The cost varies greatly and is based on the number of systems protected and several other factors. To determine cost, you will have to contact Verdasys and work through the details. While Verdasys' technicians take on the arduous chores of DLP and Data Governance, there is still plenty for in-house IT to do. But the hope is their focus will be on high-value activities related to defining and expanding the data protection program across the company instead of on the technology deployment and operational success.

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