PortAuthority Revamps Data Leakage System

The company promises more protection for data being used in a wider range of applications, along with new features for safeguarding information and expanded product integration.

PortAuthority Technologies introduced an update to its information security appliance lineup on Oct. 30, rolling out the newest version of its flagship device for protecting sensitive corporate data.

Dubbed PortAuthority 5.0, the security appliance boasts more extensive protection for proprietary data, whether the information is stored on an endpoint device, being used in a messaging application or any number of other scenarios.

Pitched as an ILP (information leakage prevention) technology, the hardware is meant to help companies combat intentional or accidental data loss, and to help avoid public embarrassment related to the reporting of such incidents.

The content monitoring and filtering technology claims new abilities for scouring data both incoming to corporate networks and information flowing out of users desktop applications.

In addition to new tools for searching for information saved on individual computers or other devices, the appliance offers expanded features for filtering data traveling over internal mail systems, or even flowing through networked printers and other peripherals.

The PortAuthority 5.0 release promises to integrate with over 370 file formats, including so-called unstructured data such as information in instant messaging services, along with text and graphics and CAD (computer aided design) documents.

The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., also claims to prevent unauthorized copying of confidential documents to various forms of portable storage devices such as USB drives or CD-ROMs.

Other significant upgrades include a revamped user interface with centralized management and reporting tools, as well as new regulatory compliance settings, over 150 pre-built security policies and reports, and automated data classification and protection.

The appliance has also been tailored to allow for faster implementation, company officials said.

"Companies continue to struggle with the problem of having too many points for information to leak out and with using technologies that require a tremendous amount of effort to manage the issue," said Raj Dhingra, vice president of products at PortAuthority.

"People have been talking about using unified threat management systems to solve this issue for years, but that hasnt materialized for most end users. Right now the pain point on this topic is so sharp that companies are looking for technologies like this that can help them immediately."

While technologies such as encryption tools can allow data to be protected on a stolen laptop, and messaging security applications scan e-mail or IM for inappropriate data use, companies need integrated platforms such as PortAuthoritys to help protect against all of those issues and many others Dhingra said.

He estimates that the ILP industry alone will grow to roughly $1 billion by 2009, approximately doubling its size compared to today.

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PortAuthority 5.0 appliances are available in two different models, with a base version priced starting at $25,000 and an enterprise iteration for companies with over 10,000 users starting at $50,000. For existing users of the companies products, the new features will be made available as a software upgrade.

Dhingra said that most companies prefer the hardware format over comparable ILP applications as the all-in-one-box approach allows for simplified installation and support.

"Appliances allow for better integration with third party proxies, which makes it easier to build interoperability with existing infrastructure; its the same evolution the industry underwent with firewalls," he said.

At least one analyst said that the future looks bright for providers of data leakage prevention technology such as PortAuthority, as users scramble for methods to prevent the types of high-profile incidents that could land their name in national headlines.

More than battling threats such as worms and spyware, keeping a lock on sensitive corporate data has become a top priority in securing IT assets, said Natalie Lambert, analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

"Talking to IT managers, weve asked them what their concerns are, and the threats they most worried about arent viruses, spyware and hackers, its the handling of data," she said. "Along with encryption, we think a lot of companies are considering these leak prevention technologies to help address those concerns."

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