IBM wants to stop rogue staff using Dropbox to steal customer databases

Got a problem with workers using their own file-sharing apps like Google Docs, Dropbox and Box to take corporate data to rival employers?

IBM’s answer is a new cloud security service dubbed Cloud Security Enforcer that could offer an answer to insider threats who use cloud apps to move data beyond the view of in-house corporate security tools that are monitored for potential leaks.

Cloud Security Enforcer offers to help business enforce rules around the use of consumer cloud apps at work on the desktop and mobile devices.

Announced on Tuesday, the service aims to tackle the practice of employees bringing cloud accounts like Box, Dropbox, Google Docs to work. As IBM points out, file-sharing apps pose a security risk through employees using their personal account credentials with weak passwords or re-used corporate log-in credentials.

But as the company illustrates in a scenario it claims Enforcer will resolve, its enforcement tool could be the perfect way to prevent the loss of data when a fickle employee spots an opportunity with a rival firm.

That employee could use her personal email to set up an account on an outside file-sharing app, allowing her to upload her team’s sales contacts to her smartphone, which could pose a problem downstream if she decided to leave her employer for a rival, IBM notes.

“While this unapproved use would give her flexible access to this data, it presents a major challenge if she took a position at a competitor. Although she would no longer have access to the data and networks monitored by her former employer’s IT team, she would still have visibility into the data uploaded into that app – presenting a potential problem from both a competitive and security perspective,” IBM says.

The announcement comes days after a former Morgan Stanley employee pleaded guilty to downloading confidential information on 730,000 customer accounts of which details of 900 accounts were published to Pastebin. The accused, who was said to be seeking employment at a different firm, had allegedly uploaded the data to a personal server at his home.

The service is hosted from data centres owned by IBM’s subsidiary Soft Layer, and offers security and IT administrators a dashboard overview of all the cloud apps in use by employees on the corporate network and who’s using them.

IBM promises to discover the total number of outsider cloud apps being accessed from with the network and provides a summary of risky apps and policy violations. The scan for cloud app usage also encompasses apps accessed from employees’ mobile devices.

IBM is combining its cloud-based identity and access management, discovery, user analytics, and threat prevention products to deliver the service.

IBM says it’s built connectors for the service into Box, as well as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, salesforce.com and claims the app connectors are expanding to other services. The service also provides check that relief on IBM’s X-Force security service.

The pitch to prospective customers is that Cloud Security Enforce will reduce the tension between IT security and business by bridging the gap between policies that prevent the use of so-called “shadow IT” and the fact that users are drawn to these because they’re easier to use and offer productivity benefits over in-house systems.

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Tags Google Docssecurity riskdropboxIBMIBM’s X-Force securityCloud Security Enforcercloud securityPastebinCSO Australiacustomer databasesMorgan Stanley

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