Chuck Leaver – Good News About RSA 2018

Written By Logan Gilbert And Presented By Chuck Leaver

 

After investing a couple of days with the Ziften team at the 2018 RSA Conference, my innovation observation was: more of the very same, the typical suspects and the typical buzzwords. Buzz words like – “AI”, “machine learning”, “predictive” were incredibly worn out. Lots of attention paid to avoidance, everybody’s favorite attack vector – email, and everybody’s preferred vulnerability – ransomware.

The only surprise to me was seeing a smattering of NetFlow analysis companies – great deals of smaller companies attempting to make their mark using a very rich, but tough to work with, data set. Really cool stuff! Discover the little cubicles and you’ll discover tons of innovation. Now, in fairness to the larger suppliers I know there are some genuinely cool technologies therein, but RSA barely positions itself to cutting through the buzzwords to actual value.

RSA Buzz

I may have a biased view because Ziften has been partnering with Microsoft for the last six plus months, however Microsoft appeared to play a lot more prominent leading role at RSA this year. Initially, on Monday, Microsoft revealed it’s all new Intelligent Security Association uniting their security collaborations “to concentrate on defending clients in a world of increased dangers”, and more importantly – strengthening that defense through the sharing of security intelligence across this community of partners. Ziften is obviously proud to be a founding member in the Intelligent Security Association.

In addition, on Tuesday, Microsoft revealed a ground breaking collaboration with numerous players in the cybersecurity industry named the “Cybersecurity Tech Accord.” This accord requires a “digital Geneva Convention” that sets standards of habits for the online world just as the Geneva Conventions set rules for the conduct of war in the physical world.

People who Attended the RSA

A real interesting point to me though was the makeup of the exhibition attendees. As I was likewise an exhibitor at RSA, I noted that of my visitors, I saw more “suits” and less t-shirts.

Ok, possibly not suits per se, however more security Supervisors, Directors, VPs, CISOs, and security leaders than I remember seeing at previous events. I was encouraged to see what I believe are business decision makers taking a look at security businesses first hand, as opposed to doling that task to their security group. From this audience I frequently heard the same overtones:

– This is frustrating.
– I can’t tell the difference in between one technology and another.

Those who were Absent from RSA

What I saw less of were “technology trolls”. What, you might ask, are technology trolls? Well, as a vendor and security engineer, these are the guys (constantly guys) that show up five minutes prior to the close of the day and drag you into a technical due-diligence exercise for an hour, or a minimum of up until the happy hour celebrations begin. Their goal – definitely nothing helpful to anyone – and here I’m presuming that the troll in fact works for a company, so nothing useful for the company that actually paid thousands of dollars for their participation. The only thing acquired is the troll’s self affirmation that they are able to “beat down the supplier” with their technical prowess. I’m being severe, however I have actually experienced the trolls from both sides of the fence, both as a vendor, and as a buyer – and back at the office nobody is basing purchasing decisions based on troll recommendations. I can just assume that businesses send tech trolls to RSA and comparable expos due to the fact that they do not desire them in their workplace.

Discussions about Holistic Security

Which brings me back to the type of individuals I did see a great deal of at RSA: security savvy (not just tech savvy) security leaders, who understand the corporate argument and choices behind security technologies. Not just are they influencers however in a lot of cases the business owners of security for their particular companies. Now, aside from the previously mentioned concerns, these security leaders appeared less concentrated on an innovation or specific usage case, but rather an emphasis on a desire for “holistic” security. As we understand, excellent security requires a collection of technologies, practice and policy. Security savvy clients wanted to know how our innovation fitted into their holistic solution, which is a rejuvenating change of dialog. As such, the types of questions I would hear:

– How does your innovation partner with other products I already use?
– More notably: Does your business really buy into that partnership?

That last question is important, basically asking if our partnerships are just fodder for a site, or, if we truly have an acknowledgment with our partner that the whole is greater than the parts.

The latter is exactly what security specialists are searching for and require.

To Conclude

In general, RSA 2018 was terrific from my point of view. After you get past the jargon, much of the buzz centered on things that matter to clients, our industry, and us as people – things like security partner ecosystems that include worth, more holistic security through real partnership and significant integrations, and face to face conversations with company security leaders, not technology trolls.

~leaverchuck1


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