Data-leakage defence tailored to catch Australian personal data

Extensive localisation has ensured that a data loss prevention (DLP) solution designed to trap specific types of personal information will be equally applicable to the Australian market as it is to overseas companies, the local head of security vendor Watchguard Technologies has promised.

Scanning incoming data streams has been a focus of security solutions for decades, but growing attention to the problem of advanced persistent threats (APTs) – which quietly infiltrate company networks and exfiltrate all kinds of personally identifiable data – has given rise to solutions that also monitor outgoing network traffic flows for suspicious data.

WatchGuard’s DLP solution, an add-on for the company’s unified threat management (UTM) platform, will ship in September and has been extensively adapted to be able to spot Australian personal information including tax file numbers, credit cards, Medicare numbers, Australian driver-license numbers, postal addresses, health information, phone numbers, banking details and more.

The Australian fields are among 200 rules included in the system, which cover 18 countries’ most common personally identifiable information. Rules are regularly updated to ensure they follow changes in format and emergence of new data types.

“There are maybe one or two categories that don’t apply to this region,” ANZ country manager Pat Devlin told CSO Australia, “but otherwise for the bulk of the data we’re scanning for it has been easy for us take a mature set of scanning signatures and put those online. The whole platform is built on this concept of extensibility, and even with obfuscation the system is pretty good at working out what’s a credit card or driver’s license number.”

Better control over personal data leakage will be essential for Australian companies and government agencies as the country’s privacy laws are overhauled in a major revamp to take effect next March. Recent survey findings suggested that 59% of Australian companies still don’t understand the impact of those new laws or their data-protection responsibilities under the revised legislation.

The ability to trap sensitive data on its way out the door will become crucial to meeting those requirements. And while content filtering has typically been done on outgoing email by dedicated applications from the likes of Mimecast, but integrating the tailor-made scanning capability into perimeter firewalls allows inspection of a broader range of outgoing data streams.

It also represented an effort to make the technology more accessible to those that didn’t want or couldn’t afford to manage an entirely separate platform, Devlin said.

“SMBs typically do some very broad-brush stuff, but rarely have their own inhouse solutions,” he explained. “For us, it’s a way of making that style of scanning more accessible to businesses that would normally just opt out of it altogether.”

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