McAfee Targets Websense In Data Leak Prevention Mudfight

In an internal channel document viewed by CRN, McAfee gives partners tips about how to attack the DLP technology of Websense, one of its competitors, in their discussions with customers.

Although vendor mudslinging is about as surprising as the sun rising in the east, the memo underscores the heightening competition in the DLP space, where McAfee and Websense are two of the biggest early entrants.

Both security vendors added DLP to their portfolios last year by acquiring Israel-based startups. In October, McAfee bought Onigma for $20 million, and in December Websense picked up PortAuthority for $90 million.

Earlier this week, McAfee added a gateway-based DLP offering to the host-based DLP product it launched in February. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said its two-pronged strategy gives businesses better protection against accidental and malicious information leaks than Websense, which uses a network-based approach.

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Besides preventing data leaks from devices with no agent installed, such as mobile devices and contractors with laptops, gateway DLP also protects non-Windows systems and servers, said Kevin LeBlanc, group product marketing manager at McAfee.

McAfee's host-based flavor of DLP is ideal for organizations that want to prevent accidental or malicious loss of data anywhere the information travels, whether it stems from employees working from home or on the road, according to LeBlanc.

In contrast, Websense's solution lacks the endpoint component that prevents data from leaking when devices such as notebooks are taken out of the company, McAfee said in the channel document. "Websense has no visibility [into] events that take place off the corporate network," the document said.

"PortAuthority's network-based approach leaves MANY data loss avenues open," another part of the document read.

A Websense spokesperson declined to comment on the McAfee document. However, the spokesperson noted that the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant lists Websense as one of three leaders in the DLP market, while McAfee wasn't mentioned.

The effectiveness of PortAuthority's technology, and the fact that the company was building a channel program when it was acquired, gave it a higher profile than Onigma in the DLP space, according to solution providers.

Websense paid far more for PortAuthority than McAfee did for Onigma but is better-positioned to take advantage of the coming boom in DLP spending, said one solution provider familiar with both vendors. That's because C-level executives are driving the decision to buy DLP more than IT departments, which gives PortAuthority an advantage over McAfee, the solution provider noted.

"Websense is used to talking to people at the highest levels about content filtering, and now they're doing the same with DLP. I'm not sure that McAfee will ever reach that high with their DLP solution," said the solution provider.

Websense is working with Israel-based Safend, a vendor of endpoint DLP technology, to add host-based protection, said Larry Dannemiller, president of Business Security Solutions, a Houston-based integrator and Websense partner.

Safend, which partnered with PortAuthority before the acquisition, next month plans to launch an interface to the Websense Content Protection Suite that prevents information from leaking from endpoints.

However, Dannemiller believes that DLP vendors' success will ultimately be determined by customers' ability to see business value of the technology. "The bottom line is, bells and whistles will not sell DLP solutions," he said.