Effective Data Loss Prevention in an SSL World

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Today, businesses are increasingly moving to SSL-encrypted traffic on their network for greater security and data protection.

Today, businesses are increasingly moving to SSL-encrypted traffic on their network for greater security and data protection.

In fact, in 2007, Enterprise Strategy Group estimated that SSL-encrypted application deployments had increased by 50 to 55 percent. However, more SSL traffic on the network, inhibits the effectiveness of a data loss prevention solution.

In response to this new application profile that favours SSL traffic, organisations need a layered data leak protection (DLP) strategy that can monitor not just email and IM traffic but also the encrypted traffic that is increasingly finding its way onto the corporate network.

With an integrated data leak prevention and secure web gateway solution, enterprises can both monitor network activity and data usage and prevent users from transmitting or copying data in violation of company policies.

So, what does each solution bring to the table? A secure Web gateway can include Web request and content filtering, prevention of malware and other malicious mobile code, content and certificates validation, encrypted SSL traffic inspection and control over IM, P2P and streaming traffic. Data leak protection solutions monitor networks and user endpoints to identify and protect confidential data from distribution.

Essentially, the secure Web gateway terminates and decrypts SSL connections, passing the decrypted content to the DLP solution for monitoring. By making encrypted traffic visible to DLP solutions, a secure Web gateway broadens the coverage of DLP security to all encrypted and unencrypted traffic, ensuring that valuable data assets never leave the WAN surreptitiously. Without the visibility into SSL-encrypted traffic, the enterprise leaves a back door unmonitored and exposes itself to potential losses from data leaks.

A secure Web gateway not only provides visibility into an increasingly larger portion of traffic on the corporate network, but it also enables enterprises to apply security and control measures to SSL-encrypted traffic. This is particularly important in industries such as health care and financial services that have stringent data protection regulations with which they must comply and also heavily rely on SSL-encrypted applications.

Additionally, the secure Web gateway serves as a DLP enforcement point. Using a wide range of attributes such as user, application, location, destination, content and others, organisations can set and enforce access privileges to align security policies with corporate priorities.

This integrated, layered approach to preventing the leak of sensitive data provides protection for data in motion (on the networks), at rest (on servers and at endpoints) and in use (at endpoints and media).

Wayne Neich is the Director of Strategic Accounts for Blue Coat Systems, Australia and New Zealand.
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