Classy classification


Every now and then, we get a chance to make lemonade out of a lemon. Usually, the lemon is of our own making. It doesn't happen often. In fact, as long as I've been writing for this magazine, I've only seen it once before. So mark it down: this is our lemonade for this decade. The best lemonade, of course, is not just has a pleasant sweetness to it. And so it is with this month's First Look.

In our email security Group Test in September, we inadvertently included TITUS Message Classification - TMC - in a group with which it was more than a bit out of phase. The results, as you might expect, were less than spectacular. TMC was a square peg in a very round hole, and what emerged in the review was what one might, under the circumstances, predict. I personally took a look at the product and it didn't take me long to realize what had happened. Too late, though. The issue had been put to bed and there was no going back. With that as background, get your glass and some ice. I'm pouring.

TMC is a deceptive product at first glance. It looks like a gizmo that sticks a classification message on an email and that's the end of it. But, that classification label is only the first of many important steps. What is most interesting to us is what happens next. TMC enforces the classification and does all of those things that are anticipated by appropriate regulatory requirements. It also integrates cleanly with third-party products and that, perhaps, is its greatest strength.

We tested TMC using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server. However, there are also versions for Outlook Web Access and Lotus Notes. Installation was straightforward and the policy engine was clean to configure. The product worked correctly the first time. We used a simple test bed consisting of two Exchange servers, each in its own domain and each with a single client.

TMC has a clean user interface and the manual is first rate. It's a good thing that the manual is delivered as a PDF. If it was paper, you would need a fork lift to deliver it. We found everything we needed, but there also is a strong quick-start guide that cuts straight to the chase for those disinclined to wade through the 324-page administrator's guide. Don't blow the manual off completely, though. It is full of procedures and screen shots that answer just about any question you might have related to deployment.

A key difference from similar products is that the classification is carried with the message as persistent metadata, so no matter where the message ends up it carries its classification with it. Also, TMC links tightly with third-party products so that, although it does not encrypt email itself, it can invoke encryption by a third-party encryption product based on rules that users set up in TMC's policy.

If one is doing or getting ready to do data classification, check this one out carefully. There are way too many features to cover here, but if a user needs it for email data classification, it's probably included. So, there you have it. We hope you enjoyed this cool drink as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. 

The metaphor is appropriate, too. It is refreshing to find a problem as knotty as data classification reduced to the key issues: user participation in the classification process, ease of use at all levels and solid integration with third-party products that enforce the classification rules. 

Product: TMC

Company: TITUS

Price: $26.95 per user; based on 5,000+ users, plus $6.74 per seat for annual maintenance.

What it does: Message classification.

What we liked: Creative approach to message classification and enforcement -allows the user to control message classification which, in turn, is enforced by TMC.

What we didn't like: This can get a bit pricey, but for what it does that may not be a serious concern in your environment.

Product title
Classy classification
Product info
Name: TITUS Message Classification Description: Great for the end-user as it helps them remain cognizant of the type of information included in their messages. Price: $26.95 per user based on 5,000-plus users, $6.74 yearly maintenance per seat.

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