EMC-RSA Acquires Data Loss Prevention Specialist Tablus

The acquisition of Tablus gives RSA the ability to identify and protect sensitive data.

RSA revealed its intent Aug. 9 to acquire Tablus, a data loss prevention vendor adding to RSAs security portfolio the ability to identify sensitive data and find it in places where it shouldnt be stored.

Neither party would disclose details of the deal, but executives expected RSAs acquisition of Tablus, which is based in San Mateo, to be complete by October or November.

The purchase and software acquisition adds to RSA and parent company EMCs stack of content storage and security and place them ahead of the pack with a product that finds data even when it is out of place, said executives and industry analysts.

"The hard reality of information security is that you cannot secure what you cannot manage, and you cannot manage what you cannot find," said Art Coviello, executive vice president at EMC and president of RSA. "Once completed, this acquisition will significantly expand our ability to help organizations of all sizes truly secure their data—and accelerate our mission to bring information-centric security to life."

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RSA will combine Tablus products with its Infoscape intelligent information management software to create a common "platform" that is engineered to enable organizations to discover, classify and take policy-based action on all of their data, Coviello said.

Missing Security Piece

Tabluss software finds and identifies so-called "sensitive" company data—sales, marketing, and human resources reports, for example—and prevents that data from leaking outside the organization. It also manages data security through policy-driven controls, something industry analysts called a missing piece for EMC and RSA.

"Tablus brings the ability to track data in flow and also when its at rest in repositories where its not supposed to be resting," said Trent Henry, an analyst at Burton Group.

EMC and RSA certainly have repository expertise and products, Henry said, but not necessarily the ability to track where all the data is at all times. "Thats what Tablus brings that fills a need," Henry said.

"IBM has a good lead on this in the mainframe world, but everybody else is chasing EMC-RSA at this point [in the open systems market]" said Robert Gray, a former IDC analyst, now of Robert Gray Direct, in Newton Center, Mass. "Eventually, all data will have to be managed and secured, perhaps encrypted—and who has custody of it all? We all do," Gray said. "Its a pain, but were all going to have to do all this, in order to protect our valuable data.

"There will come a time when we wont be able to download our MP3s onto corporate machines. Companies wont want to take responsibility for those personal files. Users will have to store their personal data into separate, identified personal folders, that the company can isolate and not have to worry about," Gray said.

Information security has clearly become an information management problem; today, many organizations struggle to establish exactly what data they have and where it all is -- let alone how sensitive it is, Coviello said.

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Sensitive data exists in three different forms (database records; messages, such as email; and various loose files) and in three different contexts (at-rest on datacenter storage; in-motion through the network; or in-use on laptops, mobile devices and portable storage), Coviello said. Comprehensive data discovery and classification must solve this complexity, he said.

Spending Spree

Tablus is the 35th acquisition by EMC since 2001, piecing together a content storage and security bundle unrivaled by other vendors.

RSA was itself acquired in June 2006 by storage giant EMC and operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hopkinton, Mass.-based corporation.

It was the second EMC acquisition in the security space in two months. The company acquired enhanced security software maker Venid in June.

Tablus, founded in 2002, is privately held and has 60 employees.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...