Symantec to offer DLP solution for iPads

iPadSymantec  says it’ll offer the world’s first comprehensive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution for tablets in early 2012.

The Symantec Data Loss Prevention for Tablet solution will only be available for Apple iPads initially. It’s designed to monitor and protect the transmission of sensitive corporate data whether the user is connected to a public Wi-Fi or a 3G network. Support for Android-based tablets will be introduced at some point thereafter.

“Symantec has been selling data loss prevention solutions for a number of years now. This is the technology that helps companies prevent inadvertent or even malicious data leaks or breaches,” explained Tim Matthews, senior director of product marketing at Symantec. “The issue now is people are really in love with their iPads; they’re wanting to bring them into work to connect to the corporate network or they’re using them on the road and this simply brings more risk for the company.”

Thus the product enables organizations to support work and personal use concurrently across corporate and personal email, Web communications, and common applications available for the iPad. Current Symantec DLP customers can leverage their existing investment by utilizing the same policies and management infrastructure.

DLP is at the top of the list for security teams, he added; it’s a hot topic for the IT channel.

“The nice thing about it is it provides an immediate view of risk to companies so there’s a quick payback for the investment,” he remarked. “The partner becomes strategic (for the customer) because you’re helping them uncover their greatest areas of risk . . . and there’s ongoing tuning of detection technology in their workflows.”

But Symantec DLP for Tablet doesn’t cover smartphones.

“The reason why tablets are a primary concern is they’re typically used to view sensitive documents and to edit these documents so it was thought to be a higher risk area than mobile phones,” he said. “We’ll keep an eye on the smartphone space but we’re beginning with tablets because they seem to be the bigger risk according to the customers we’ve talked to.”

To that end, the security vendor did its homework before making the announcement. Symantec’s latest “State of Security Survey” found organizations worldwide are grappling with the new security challenges posed by iPads and tablets. Of the survey’s respondents, 47 per cent said mobile computing was making it more difficult to provide online security, and 45 per cent said the “consumerization of IT” was a concern.

There are similarities between Symantec’s DLP for Tablet solution and the concept of mobile device management (MDM), Matthews acknowledged, but what Symantec’s product does that MDM doesn’t is monitor the content mailed, sent, or stored in the cloud from the iPad.

“If that content is sensitive, this product will detect that that information is being sent, and it will either notify the user, block it, or potentially encrypt it. We call it ‘content awareness’ to differentiate between the two,” he said. “Even if you provision and manage your phones and you can zap it if it’s lost, that still leaves you wide open to someone storing a document in the cloud with sensitive customer data or Gmailing [sic] something off of their iPad to somewhere that’s not controlled by the company.

“They’re both related (MDM and DLP) and have to do with putting more work on the IT and security teams by this crush of devices.”

The company also offers encryption solutions ranging from full disk encryption and removable storage to email and server solutions that include the recently announced Symantec PGP Viewer for iOS. Viewer enables employees of organizations with Symantec PGP Universal Server to read encrypted messages on iOS devices including the iPad and iPhone.

Symantec DLP for Tablet will be priced per tablet, the company said. Symantec PGP Viewer for iOS is an Apple iOS application currently available for download from the Apple App Store.