Data security is top of mind for most chief information security officers (CISOs) and security teams. Cloud, big data and software-as-a-service (SaaS) projects are putting a greater demand on the access and use of your company’s most prized possession — its data.

The Consequences of Imperfect Data Security

This greater demand for access results in increased risk that the wrong people will get access to the wrong data for the wrong reasons. Even worse, privileged insiders may mishandle or steal it for profit. Regulations and audit requirements are increasing and will continue to do so. Now is the time to ensure you’ve got the right data protection solution for all of your data, whether it resides on-premises or in the cloud.

Selecting the right data protection solution can be a challenge. Each vendor on your short list is sure to have sales people who say all the right things to sell you on their products. But which one is truly better? What should you be asking about? What questions do you need to ask to avoid making the wrong choice and selecting an imperfect data security solution? There has never been a cheat sheet to help IT managers make the right choice — until now.

Cheaper Isn’t Better

Look out for vendors that offer data security solutions at a low cost and claim that they require less software. All software sizes should be heavily scrutinized, or you may have to cough up more funds a few months down the line. You should also look beyond just initial software costs and consider your total cost of ownership. How much will it cost over a multiyear period? How many resources will it take to administer the solution in the long term? How much money will it save?

Forrester’s “The Total Economic Impact of IBM Security Guardium” study included a calculator to demonstrate the cost benefits of IBM Guardium, which has, for many customers, resulted in better than a 200 percent return on investment (ROI). Don’t be fooled by sales tactics — do the research and consider short- and long-term costs beyond just software.

Network Solutions Miss Privileged Users

Be wary of vendors that push using network solutions in their proofs of concepts (POCs). These offerings may seem simple to get up and running, and they deliver a lot of information very quickly, but reserve judgment. Network solutions are missing one of your biggest threats: privileged users.

Privileged users are the most common culprits in insider threats. The only way to monitor privileged users is to monitor local access to the database. IBM Guardium’s agent-based offering is a complete data protection solution that offers real-time monitoring of your privileged users. You can identify outliers, block activity, and conduct dynamic masking that doesn’t block but ensures sensitive data is not shared. You can also quarantine users to catch them in the act. An imperfect data security solution can get you fast results in a POC, but it can also leave you vulnerable to insider attacks.

It Only Takes One

Make sure you understand what data sources you need protected and which your vendor supports. Missing major data source support, especially in the areas of mainframe and big data, will come back to haunt you when it comes to total cost of ownership.

A typical organization today has a heterogeneous environment that is constantly changing and growing. New types of data sources pop up weekly, if not daily, and sensitive data is dispersed across all of these sources. Protecting 50 percent of these sources still means exposing half your data.

It only takes one attack on one database to make a big impact. That’s why you need a solution that covers 100 percent of your data sources. An imperfect data security solution can leave some of your data sources exposed or cost you major funds to deliver custom integration.

The Limited Unlimited License

Some vendors might offer a sweet deal on an unlimited license agreement. This might seem like old advice, but it bears repeating: Read the fine print. Some unlimited licenses allow you to monitor as many data sources as you want, but be careful. They may include some restrictions — on the number of collectors, for instance — that would limit the performance of your deployment. You may be allowed to monitor as many data sources as you want, but you can’t scale to meet your demand if you only have a handful of collectors.

IBM Guardium’s unlimited license agreement is truly unlimited. No gotchas and no fine print. We want you to use it and be happy with the flexibility to deploy to your business needs. Don’t end up with an imperfect data security contract — read the fine print.

Read the Forrester Report: The Total Economic Impact of IBM Security Guardium

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