Data leakage prevention

I've observed an increase in discussion around data leakage prevention - finally. This discussion is overdue, given the fact that data leaks are common in most corporations. Internal documents, eMails, blueprints aren't under control in most cases.

The need for data leakage prevention automatically leads to two topics: Information Rights Management (IRM) and Identity and Access Management (IAM). Both are tightly coupled. Identity Management is about managing the identities. Access Management is about controlling access, but mainly to defined "information silos". Information Rights Management is about controlling access to information in the flow. But, in fact, IRM is nothing else than a specific for of Access Management - isn't it?

If you look at Microsoft's advances in IRM with Windows Server 2008, the central role Identity Management has for IRM becomes obvious. The most important improvement is the integration of Identity Federation and IRM, with the result of Federated Rights Management Services. This isn't surprising, because IRM requires the knowledge of the users, groups, and roles which shall have access to information. That is easy within an enterprise, but it becomes a quite complex issue in the communication with more or less tightly coupled business partners. Federation is the obvious answer to this.

Thus, IAM and IRM will grow together over time, with IRM as a specific application of IAM. Companies which face the data leakage problem - virtually every company - have to define their strategy for IRM in the context of IAM. This context is necessary because IRM requires reliable identity information and because IRM is just another form of Access Management. And a major topic at our European Identity Conference.

The good news is that this dependency is seen by some vendors as well. The bad news for Data Leakage Prevention is that there are neither standards nor implementation which will cover the entire breadth of (electronic) corporate information, e.g. from Microsoft Word to CATIA to Lotus Notes. But the growing demand for solutions might change this over the next two or three years.


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