Quest Policy Authority helps agencies enforce IM policies

Earlier this year, a security breach involving President Barack Obama’s helicopter was traced backed to a file-sharing program used by a defense contractor.

The breach could have been prevented if the proper protocols had been used, said Andy Sullivan, product manager for Quest Software’s Policy Authority for Unified Communications. Policy Authority is a tool that secures and logs instant messaging, prevents data leakage and ensures regulatory compliance, Sullivan said. The software would have prevented that file sharing from having taken place in the first place, he said.

Like nearly everyone else, government is struggling with the conflict between privacy and the right to use instant messaging and other Web 2.0 tools. Government agencies are using the Quest product to compartmentalize communications across their networks based on the sensitivity of the data, Sullivan said.

The program lets users create rules through a policy creation wizard. “It walks you through, step by step,” Sullivan said. The company works with committees formed by each agency made up of compliance and ethics advisers.

“We talk about managing IM,” he said. Even with policies and content filters in place, agencies need to “recognize that there are users out there who will try to circumvent them.” The peer-to-peer file sharing applications, in particular, have been “bastardized into the world of illegal sharing,” he said. Agencies try to block them, but employees will still try to find ways to get around the prohibitions.

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About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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