Analysis: The security industry moves into data protection

With McAfee purchasing Reconnex for $46 million (23 million), it marked another significant investment in data protection by a major security vendor, following the likes of Symantec, Trend Micro and EMC which made similar purchases in 2007.

It showed McAfee's plan to define its own identity in data protection, which has become a major concern for business and chief information officers through 2007 and much of last year.

IT PRO has covered many data loss incidents and have usually been outside the traditional security remit invariably it involved organisational and business process failure rather than the malware threat that vendors have traditionally focused on

According to IDC, high profile incidents in which customer records, confidential information and intellectual property were leaked, lost or stolen have created an explosive demand for solutions that protect against this.

And according to IDC security research analyst Brian Burke, McAfee's acquisition of Reconnex is major step in which it can take a major piece of the data loss prevention pie.

He said: "IDC forecasts worldwide revenue for the information protection and control (IPC) market to grow from $765 million in 2006 to $3.2 billion in 2011, representing a 33 per cent compound annual growth rate."

McAfee already has data protection products, but the purchase of Reconnex marks a significant investment in what has been referred to as learning technology' which has been referred to as having a Google-like indexing approach'.

The learning application that Reconnex has created is said to allow businesses to identify sensitive data and processes without having upfront knowledge of what it contained, a problem which current data loss prevention products have marked down as a problem.

The learning technology should allow McAfee to implement new products which would index, classify and understand the context of all content as it leaves an organisation. It's claimed that the knowledge mining' capability would help businesses tackle the fear of the unknown.

The security industry's move into data protection was inevitable and McAfee's acquisition is not going to be the last. But it does beg the question of if and when the real problem of data protection can be solved human mistakes.

Many of the most high profile incidents have involved people not following policy or rules, and that is one problem the security industry does neglect to mention in the race for profit and to have the best portfolio of products.