No More Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside

Carl Weinschenk

Novell's acquisition announced Monday of Senforce and RSA's purchase of last week of Tablus are a nice way of highlighting two priorities to which security forces must pay heed.


Senforce offers technology that secures end points, including mobile devices. The two companies already were tight: Novell previously offered repackaged versions of Senforce's Endpoint Security Suite and Wi-Fi Security Solution.


Meanwhile, RSA -- now a division of storage vendor EMC -- said it is buying Tablus. Dark Reading says Tablus' specialty is filtering outgoing messages for sensitive data that shouldn't be allowed to leave the organization. The company's main product is called Content Alarm. It also offers software for scanning computers, Dark Reading says.


While the demarcation clearly isn't perfect, these deals can be considered bookends because the acquired companies' mandates are activities that primarily flow in opposite directions. Senforce works to guard against malicious folks entering the enterprise, while Tablus makes sure that the crown jewels -- or jewels of any value -- aren't secreted out.


Certainly, both platforms deal with firewall issues. Increasingly, however, it seems that firewalls are more a conceptual structure around which to plan security than a hard and fast barrier that, if working correctly, separates insiders from outsiders and makes sure that neither group is being naughty.


The reason is that everything has changed. Today's corporate networks are widely distributed and both upstream and downstream bandwidth are sufficient to run deep business applications. BlackBerries, iPhones and other powerful devices are being connected by advanced wireless connectivity via 3G, 802.11n and WiMax. This means that sensitive corporate data is everywhere. This E-Commerce News story, for instance, describes NetSuite's porting of customer relationship management (CRM) applications to the iPhone.


Likewise, Web sites are becoming more highly functional and interactive, especially as Web 2.0 approaches take root. Thus, customers, partners, suppliers and others -- with malcontents sprinkled within each group -- are gaining access to the deepest recesses of the corporation. At Gartner's IT Security Summit in Sydney this week, Gartner Vice President and Fellow Joseph Feiman described the security challenges of Web 2.0.


A transition is under way toward a flatter world in which threats are far more equally distributed. Security personnel should start thinking of the landscape in these terms.

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