With the enactment of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) on the horizon, businesses are taking a hard look at how they store and manage data. POPI will place a significant compliance burden on companies, and, as the primary legislation dealing with the processing of personal information, makes provision for onerous fines as well as imprisonment in some cases for non-compliance.

“POPI doesn’t just apply to the information collected from customers,” explains Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Distribution. “The bill applies equally to any personal information that companies employers may collect and keep about any person who might wish to work, work, or has worked for them. In light of this, businesses will have to better manage how they collect, store, process and disseminate personal information.”

Data, he adds, is a company asset, but could become a liability in the wake of POPI. “Added to the need for companies to better manage personal information is the overall security risk posed by the incorrect management of business data. In addition, the insider threat is one that is increasingly proving the biggest headache for organisations of all sizes – particularly as negligent employees can cause as much damage as those with malicious intent.”

Campbell-Young says that technology is available to help companies mitigate these risks, as well as to ensure POPI compliance. “There are a number of tools available that have been designed with data protection in mind, but none offer the breadth of IP-Guard. We researched a number of offerings in order to better help our customers access a complete data security solution, and chose IP-Guard as a result of its flexibility. In addition, it offers the added benefit of enabling POPI compliance, which is top of mind for most South African businesses.”

IP-guard protects data, manages employee computer usage and online activity, and eases system management. Composed of 14 modules, IP-guard offers a flexible solution to safeguards intellectual property, improve work productivity, and reduce IT management workload.

According to Charl Ueckermann, Managing Director of IP-Guard, the product is being used by local government agencies as well as small businesses, proving its flexibility. “From a security perspective, IP-Guard allows companies to cover and control all areas which might have a likelihood of information leakage, creating authorisations that limit employee access to sensitive data. It also offers application management and centralised asset management to improve efficiency and lower costs. These and other features are modular, so companies can choose those areas they specifically want to focus on. Because of this flexibility, IP-Guard is a perfect tool fro companies from a couple of employees to those with thousands.”

Other features include bandwidth management and control, device management and control, document management, e-mail management, IM management, asset management, network management, and intrusion detection. In addition, IP-Guard provides for remote maintenance and screen monitoring.

“It’s one thing to be able to access logs, but if you have experienced data leakage, or suspect you have an employee who may be breaking company policies, being able to capture and playback activity on any given PC – or a number of them – is invaluable,” Ueckermann explains.

“Today’s businesses cannot afford to be without an integrated risk, vulnerability monitoring and reporting software tool. POPI has placed the onus on companies to take a more proactive approach to data security. With the increasing number of known and unknown exposures of classified or sensitive information, IP-Guard can help them stay compliant while mitigating a wide range of threats,” Campbell-Young concludes.