Data loss prevention urged as security focus

Vendors dispute recent Ovum findings on the state of the data loss prevention industry

Data loss prevention remains a priority security concern for Australian companies, despite reported slowed growth in the area, according to some security experts.

Experts from security firms McAfee and Sophos refuted findings from Ovum global report, Data Loss Prevention, which suggested the uptake of data loss prevention (DLP) technology was growing at a smaller rate than other categories.

The report indicated the DLP technology market was expected to reach global revenues of $US832 million by 2015. As of 2009, the category was worth $458 million, according to the analyst firm. In contrast, network security was expected to reach revenues of $6.5 billion in 2015.

The report attributed slow uptake to IT budget pressures.

McAfee DLP product director, Joel Camissar, told Computerworld Australia that the report did not match the Australian experience in the field.

"Those figures from 2009 to 2015 equal a 15 per cent compound annual growth rate, which is well in excess of most other security technology categories,” he said.

“What we're seeing is growth in Australia in many multiples of what that compound annual growth rate is."

Camissar would not share specific sales data, however.

Sophos Asia Pacific head of security, Paul Ducklin, agreed local companies should be taking a stronger approach to DLP technology investment.

“Everyone is used to the idea that security is about keeping the bad stuff out, which is why malware and antivirus are widespread these days," he said.

"For regulatory reasons, people aren’t worried as much as they ought to about keeping the good stuff in which is what DLP is all about."

Ducklin said there have been a number of international high-profile data spills, such as that of oil giant BP, which lost a laptop containing details of claimants in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

It was revealed that while the laptop was password-protected, it was unencrypted.

"The reason we know about these cases is that in the US and Europe, laws have advanced for consumer protection so that if you lose information about your customer, you have to admit that," Ducklin said.

“Unfortunately in Australia and most of the Pacific, you can sweep that [data loss] under the carpet. Companies are taking a chance thinking that if they lose data and no one notices, then they can get away with it and they don’t need to invest in DLP protection."

McAfee’s Camissar was also supportive of recent comments from the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, on potential changes to legislation that would penalise companies that do not report data breaches.

"If that happens companies will take their compliance obligations a lot more seriously," he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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