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The Real Enterprise Data Protection Problem: CAD files and Other Legacy Apps Data

Written by 
October 7, 2020

Talk to any enterprise CISO and you quickly learn that despite all the DLP and encryption solutions that focus on protecting office files, the real problem that nobody talks about is protecting highly valuable data in non-office file formats:

  • Automotive, manufacturing and industrial enterprises rely heavily on the CAD design data format to store and exchange critical IP
  • Healthcare exchanges data in proprietary billing and patient record formats exported from Electronic Medical Records systems
  • Media and design enterprises put their most valuable IP into MOV and MP4 files, Photoshop PSD files and other media formats
  • Source code used more and more by large enterprises as part of their digital transformation contains valuable IP
  • MS Visio and MS Project formats - even Microsoft offers little to protect these critical forms of IP

Even worse, the majority of large enterprises also rely heavily on line of business ERPs like SAP, as well as their own legacy or home-grown line of business applications at the core of their operations. When data is exported from those applications whether for sharing internally or externally, that is an immediate threat to the business. 

Imagine a legacy CAD tool that produces an enterprise’s key industrial designs, however the editor is no longer supported by the vendor. Or a home-grown content authoring tool that no longer has an in-house development team. These legacy applications are so entrenched in business workflows that changing to another application for security reasons is unrealistic, so the enterprise has no choice to find a data protection solution… or simply operate with no protection. 

Compound this with sharing data between more remote workers and more data sharing with 3rd party vendors, and your most valuable data is simply pouring into the wrong hands at an alarming rate.

Traditional DLP Is Not Enough

Most enterprises have a data loss prevention (DLP) solution in place, but despite this data breaches still happen at an alarming rate. The root cause is simple: DLP lets all data flow by default and attempts to only selectively identify, classify and block sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. But identifying sensitive data to protect is extremely error-prone. A DLP might be able to spot highly structured, pattern-oriented data like credit card numbers and social security numbers (though even that is not always true). But DLP will miss most forms of intellectual property like product designs, manufacturing blueprints, corporate IP, employee personal information, HR information, etc. This is because IP is rarely in a machine-detectable format like a credit card, and it is often housed in non-office formats like CAD, PSD, image files, source code, as well as legacy and proprietary formats that DLP doesn’t handle. 

No wonder half of all manufacturers experienced a data breach in the last year! 

Other traditional data protection technologies attempt to augment DLP to solve the issue, but are clearly ineffective as data leaks are still rampant. Manual classification, for example, puts the identification of IP in the hands of employees. However employees are busy, make error-prone decisions, and may even represent an insider threat.  Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) are dependent on accurate identification of data as well, rendering them as inaccurate as DLP. And none of these solutions have true support for non-office data formats anyway.

Specialized Solutions for Different Forms of IP

There are security solutions marketed specifically for source code, or specifically targeted at protecting CAD designs. This may be the best way to address an urgent use case for a particular type of sensitive data.

Buyer beware, however: 

  • Many of these solutions are marketed as if specialized, however under the hood they simply use the same age-old techniques that have made DLP ineffective.
  • Purchasing solutions that are specialized in one use case may create additional integration and maintenance challenges 
  • There may not be a specialized solution for legacy or home-grown data formats.

DASB Solves the Enterprise Data Protection Problem

SecureCircle's Data Access Security Broker (DASB) is a specialized solution that addresses the unique needs of intellectual property data protection in any data format - CAD, PSD, Visio, MOV, etc. 

DASB achieves this in 3 ways:

  1. DASB’s default is to protect data, rather than allow data to flow. Much like a firewall that protects by default and only allows by exception, DASB protects any specialized IP by default. This is very different from DLP’s heavy and error-prone data classification techniques. 
  2. DASB is completely transparent to the end-user. DASB is able to protect by default because it can do so without the end-user even knowing that it is working behind the scenes. 
  3. DASB protects all types of data. Not just office files, but all formats including source code, specialized CAD, MOV and other formats, even home-grown and legacy data formats. 

DASB achieves this by adding an invisible layer of indirection between the user and the data, just as http became https by adding a layer of security over all exchanges on the web, regardless of the type of content served in your web browser. 

When it comes to legacy and home-grown client/server and web applications, DASB is agnostic to applications. Security is applied with zero change to the application and no impact to existing integrations or workflows.

And when it comes to users creating, copying and importing new data into the enterprise, DASB is data-centric.  DASB follows data as it moves from file to file and application to application to automatically protect derivative work without any user intervention and regardless of format including CAD, images, and health records.

A Specialized Solution, For All Data Types

CISOs who have already invested in DLP but still have a laundry list of unprotected data use cases need not worry. This is the sad norm. DASB is a specialized solution that can immediately solve a specialized data protection use case such as CAD manufacturing designs, media files, images, and homegrown and legacy data formats. DASB is fast to deploy and works in a way that is invisible to users and other security tools, so there is no need for custom integrations or changes to your process. An enterprise that deploys DASB will solve their data use case in days, not years.

But DASB is a paradigm shift that works for any data, allowing it to take on more and more use cases as needed, to evolve with the needs of your data protection strategy, rather than leaving you buying a separate product for every situation that comes up. 

What is your data protection use case? Put specialized DASB to the test. 

The Real Enterprise Data Protection Problem

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