Firms face growing IT security danger from 'enemy within'

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Global organizations are leaving themselves vulnerable to significant security risks because of widespread failure to take steps against internal threats, industry experts warned today.

The growing danger posed by so-called "enemies within" is being widely ignored by firms that traditionally focus the majority of their security efforts on the external threats posed by viruses, spam, spyware and blended threats, according, IDC has said.

New research from the analyst firm notes that the detection and prevention of outbound content that violates corporate policy and government and industry regulations is critical. This new security market segment, which IDC has termed "outbound content compliance" (OCC), is predicted by the analyst to be generating revenues of $1.9 billion in 2009.

"There is growing demand for solutions that will combat potentially devastating content distribution and violations of government and industry regulations," said Brian Burke, manager of IDC's security products and services research.

He added that these demands are being met through a range of OCC solutions that monitor, secure/encrypt, filter and block outbound content contained in email, instant messaging, P2P, file transfers, web postings and other types of messaging traffic.

"OCC plays a key role in enforcing corporate compliance with both external regulatory requirements and internal corporate policies," Burke said.

Government and industry regulations are also identified as key drivers, as they have placed unprecedented pressure on corporations to secure the use of their electronic communications. "Addressing the insider threat is becoming more complex," added Burke.

"The increasing use of corporate email, web email, instant messaging, peer-to-peer and other channels for distributing data and the proliferation of mobile devices that allow employees to carry sensitive information outside the organization's boundaries make the control of outbound content increasingly difficult."

The growing awareness of outbound content compliance, according to IDC, has been recently catalyzed by a series of corporate scandals in which customer records, confidential information and intellectual property were leaked.

In addition the analyst company predicts that an increasing number of organizations will become concerned about filtering their outbound email stream for threats such as spam, viruses and spyware. Organizations are also increasingly concerned that they will face legal liability and brand reputation damage if their customers or partners get "infected" by messages they generate.

IDC also notes that the threats associated with outbound content compliance apply not only to email, but also to instant messaging, peer-to-peer, file transfers, web postings and other types of messaging traffic.

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