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Software maker Pointsec Mobile Technologies announced its newest data encryption package Jan. 22, introducing its Protector product line, which promises to help enterprises better safeguard sensitive information and stop content from leaking outside their networks.

Officials with Pointsec, based in Chicago, said that Protector expands on the company’s existing endpoint encryption tools in that it provides the ability for users to lock down information stored on their internal IT systems, as well as manage the flow of data onto mobile devices such as portable USB storage drives, wireless handhelds or multimedia players.

Up until the launch of Protector, Pointsec’s software focused primarily on offering the ability for companies to encrypt or block information that users attempted to transfer from the network onto their laptops, USB gizmos or other devices.

The company said that Protector combines port and storage device management with encryption to safeguard both removable storage media, and data being transmitted by e-mail, by providing automatic, real-time data defense.

By using the product’s data encryption and device storage management features, in addition to its ability to block content such as viruses from being uploaded onto a network from portable devices, the system better addresses the full scope of enterprise concerns related to data leakage and compliance, according to Pointsec.

Instead of merely encrypting information as its moves off of the network at a port, the system allows firms to encrypt specific classes of data on their centralized IT systems in order to prevent it from being pasted into e-mails or copied into instant messages, providing a more consistent, comprehensive manner of control, said Bob Egner, vice president of product management at Pointsec.

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“We’ve been stopping data at the port for years, but the nature of the problem for enterprises is that they often don’t know where all of their sensitive information is, posing challenges for both endpoint security and internal data control,” Egner said. “As enterprises are shifting their efforts toward more centralized data encryption, we wanted to introduce a product that allowed them to protect against internal data leaks as well as the flow of information at the endpoint.”

While companies are currently considering a number of techniques for preventing sensitive information from leaving their walls, including a range of so-called DLP (data leakage prevention) applications, Pointsec maintains that its new, more intelligent encryption tools make the most sense for businesses looking to solve the problem quickly and at the lowest cost.

Attempts to encrypt all the information on a laptop, such as through the projects being undertaken at present by many agencies of the U.S. federal government, won’t work for a large number of businesses because the projects will take too long and make data-handling too cumbersome, Egner said.

By identifying which types of data need to be encrypted before it is allowed to be copied or passed along from user to user, and manipulating information at the time a user attempts to move it onto a USB device or into an electronic message, companies can protect only the information that most needs to be safeguarded at the time it is truly vulnerable, according to the Pointsec executive.

In November 2006, Pointsec announced that it was being acquired by Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies for approximately $625 million. Officials at Check Point said that the deal represents a new direction for the company, which has traditionally focused on network security technologies, by giving it the ability to offer customers end-to-end authentication and data access control tools.

In addition to furthering the reach of Pointsec’s existing products, Check Point executives said they plan to use the acquired company’s technologies to create a whole new line of data security technologies that span from ID access management to mobile encryption.

“We’ve seen a lot of issues developing with customers’ desire to secure data further, even if they have solid infrastructure technologies in place, as they know they’re vulnerable to many different types of breaches that go beyond the network,” said Laura Yecies, general manager of Check Point’s product division.

“In bringing Pointsec onboard, obviously the initial opportunity is to push our business into mobile encryption, but we’re also looking at a wide range of opportunities with data security as it relates to network infrastructure.”

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