Tag Archives: DRM

DRM versus DLP

A common question for a large company that needs to protect intellectual property from theft and abuse is choosing the right balance of technology, process and procedure. It has  been said that the Americans are very rules-based in their approach to security and compliance where the the Europeans are more principles-based.

This article presents a systematic method for selecting and cost-justifying data security technology to protect  intellectual property theft and abuse.

The original presentation was given at the October 2, 2009 DLP-Expert Russia meeting in Istra (just outside of Moscow)

Click here to download the presentation

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Secure collaboration, agile collaboration

One of the biggest challenges in global multi-center clinical trials (after enrollment of patients) is collaboration between multi-center clinical trial teams: CRAs, investigators, regulatory, marketing, manufacturing, market research, data managers, statisticians and site administrators.

In a complex global environment, pharma do not have control of computer platforms that local sites use – yet there is an expectation that file and information sharing should be easy yet there are three areas where current systems break down:

1. People forget what files had been shared and with whom they have been shared

2. People have difficulty sharing files with colleagues in a way that is accessible to everyone – firewalls, VPNs, enterprise content management, DRM, corporate data security policy, end point security, file size – these are all daunting challenges when all you want to do is share a file with a colleague in Berlin when you are working in a hospital in Washington.

3. Notifications – how do you know when new information has been added or updated? Not having timely notifications on updates can be a big source of frustration resulting in team members pinging other members over and over again with emails.

Over the past 10 years a generation of complex enterprise content management software systems have grown up – they are bloated, expensive, difficult to implement, not available to the entire multi-center team and in many cases written by English speaking software vendors who cannot conceive that there are people in the world who feel more comfortable communicating in their native tongue of French, German, Hebrew or Finnish!

We are developing (currently in beta with a Tier 1 bio-pharma in EMEA)  a Web-based, agile collaboration system with a light-weight, easy to use, simple architecture, that saves time and reduces IT and travel costs – and literally gets everyone on the same page.

The system resolves the 3 breakdowns above while recording all user activities in a detailed audit trail in order to meet internal control and FDA regulatory requirements.

The system also provides significant cost benefits in addition to improving information collaboration:

• Reduces travel costs: Using online events, integrated media and file sharing and discussions, the clinical trial team and investigators can conduct program reviews, education activities and special events.

• Eliminates proprietary IT: No proprietary software or hardware and no IT integration. No extra investments in information technologies, CRM, sales force integration and data mining.

If this interests you – drop me a line!

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Business unit strategy for data security

At a recent seminar on information security management, I heard that FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is dead, that ROI is dead and that the insurance model is dead. Information security needs to give business value. Hmm.

This sounds like a terrific idea, but the lecturer was unable to provide a concrete example similar to purchasing justifications that companies use like: “Yes, we will buy this machine because it makes twice as many diamond rings per hour and we’ll be able corner the Valentine’s Day market in North America.”

The seminar left me with a feeling of frustration of a reality far removed from management theory. Intel co-founder Andy Grove said, “A little fear in an organization is a good thing.” So FUD apparently isn’t dead.

This post will help guide readers from a current state of reaction and acquisition to a target state of business value and justification for information security, providing both food for thought and practical ideas for implementation.

Most companies don’t run their data security operation like a business unit with a tightly focused strategy on customers, market and competitors. Most security professionals and software developers don’t have quotas and compensation for making their numbers.

Information security works on a cycle of threat, reaction and acquisition. It needs to operate continuously and proactively within a well-defined, standards-based threat model that can be benchmarked against the best players in your industry, just like companies benchmark earnings per share.

In his classic Harvard Business Review article, What Is Strategy?, Michael Porter writes how “the essence of strategy is what not to choose … a strong completive position requires clear tradeoffs and choices and a system of interlocking business activities that fit well and sustain the business.” The security of your business information also requires a strategy.

Improvement requires a well-defined strategy and performance measures, and improvement is what our customers want. With measurable improvement, we’ll be able to prove the business value of spending on security.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is your information asset protection spending driven by regulation?
  2. Are Gartner white papers your main input for purchasing decisions?
  3. Does the information security group work without security win/loss scores?
  4. Does your chief security officer meet three to five vendors each day?
  5. Is your purchasing cycle for a new product longer than six months?
  6. Is your team short on head count, and not implementing new technologies?
  7. Has the chief technology officer never personally sold or installed any of the company’s products?

If you answered yes to four of the seven questions, then you definitely need a business strategy with operational metrics for your information security operation.

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Information security: Is psychology more important than technology?

I believe that 3 psychological reasons are the root cause of why many organizations worldwide do not take a leadership position in enterprise information protection.

  1. Preventing information security events is an admission of weakness. Why spend money on technology when the first step is admitting that you’re vulnerable?
  2. We live in an age of instant gratification. Need music – go to Deezer. Need security – go to Checkpoint. Strong security is hard work.
  3. Walk on the safe side, not on the wild side. Why be an early adopter and / or spend 6-7 figures on several point solutions that requires a risk assessment from someone who isn’t your accountant, a complex policy implementation by people who need to learn your business, integration with internal procedures and processes with employees who could care less, and buyin from a CEO who is scrappling for survival with the board during the biggest financial crisis in 80 years?

I posted this question  on the LinkedIn Information Security Community forum about 6 weeks ago. It was an experiment in collaborative writing;  I’ve collected the comments and edited them (hopefully faithfully), attributing credit to each contributor.

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The role of DLP in IP protection

A common conversation I have with my technology clients  touches on patent protection as a  security countermeasure against abuse of intellectual property. The short answer is that if you’re not DuPont or Roche, then patent protection is not going to help you very much. If you develop software , you are probably infringing  someone’s patents as we speak.

Outside the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, the cost of litigation far exceeds the benefits of patent protection. (See “Patent Failure, How judges, bureaucrats and lawyers put innovators at risk”, Bessen and Maurer, Princeton University Press, 2008 pages 130-156, “The cost of dispute”)

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Choosing a data loss prevention solution

Data security, Disaster recovery planning

Data security is not one-size fits all.

For example, if the threat scenario is an attack on your customer self-service Web application – obfuscating or encrypting fields in database tables is not an effective security countermeasure;  you need a network DLP solution to prevent leaks of clear text data and a software security assessment that will help you get rid of the bugs that make your Web application vulnerable.  On the other hand, if the threat scenario is sales representatives working in stores in shopping malls using unmanaged PCs and leaking customer data; you need an agent DLP solution.

How do you decide what is the DLP solution for your business?

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Preventing intellectual property abuse

One of my pet peeves with security vendors like Symantec, Vontu, Websense and Checkpoint is marketing collateral that totally disregards the basics of security – it’s like they hired an English major straight out of school and told them to start writing. Sensitive assets, confidential assets, proprietary assets – you can make a total mishmash as long as you mention compliance, SOX and HIPPA at least 3 times in the article.

Since the business situation, corporate culture and IT infrastructure of every company is different, we believe that it is incorrect to choose security countermeasures on the basis of product features – especially when vendors provide pseudo-risk-management justification for their offering – read Andrew Jaquith on the hamster wheel of pain

We submit that selection of security countermeasures requires measuring their effectiveness against a particular threat. Read  more about this revolutionary idea on Preventing intellectual property abuse and you’ll see exactly how to choose a security product using a practical threat model – visit Practical Threat Analysis and download the free software.

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