Last week I attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco for about the 10th time. I was also able to attend the 12th annual West Coast AGC Conference, which brings together the leading security startups seeking funding with the investor community.
What were my key takeaways?
- One noteworthy M&A announcement was IBM’s acquisition of Resilient Systems for around $100 million. Resilient Systems focuses on incident response, which is a good gauge for the current security discussion if organizations should be more focused on prevention or detection.
- RSA feels like a huge family reunion where you can catch up with folks you haven’t seen for a year. As an organization buying technology or services, it is a quick way to see all of the vendors in one place. For security vendors, I feel there is as much (if not more) value in driving key partner conversations as there is in talking with customers and prospects.
- Needless to say, the industry is maturing. With more than 3,000 vendors in this space, there are simply too many solutions for the problems we are all trying to solve. An average, mid-size, or enterprise organization cannot afford to deploy 100 different solutions that all act independently from one another. Buyers will become more and more selective when determining what they actually need and how it fits into their security landscape. It is time for our industry to consolidate and for security vendors to develop symbiotic relationships.
- Security vendors can no longer just thrive on the premise of “solving next-generation problems” and showing growth at any cost. Solid business value combined with operational fundamentals will be the key for differentiation and survival. Larger security companies will be able to choose great technology at much lower evaluations and smaller vendors need to do a much better job in demonstrating how their solutions fit in with existing security investments.
- With the encryption conflict between the U.S. Government and Apple fresh on everyone’s minds, it seemed a majority of people felt that building in “weaker” security as a design element will only increase risk. On the other hand, it is surprising how many people think encryption is the answer to any security problem. Encryption can be an effective security vehicle, but it can also be an effective mechanism for black hats to hide suspicious activities. Once you traverse the corporate network and are in the walled garden, it is extremely difficult to detect your activities if everything is encrypted. At CloudLock, we believe organizations need to focus on safe adoption that combines both security and convenience, as users will simply circumvent measures that are deemed inconvenient.
- There is a new generation of threats specific to the cloud, and the previous generation of security tools are not effective enough to deal with them. What exacerbates this issue is the significant amount of noise generated by the current solutions, which makes it difficult to focus on the prevention and detection of new threats. Fortifying walls on antiquated networks that exist today is not the answer.
- The Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) market is evolving rapidly. Where in past years the initial focus seemed to fall on cloud application discovery and visibility, organizations are realizing that this one aspect of CASB really doesn’t do much to decrease your risk. By focusing only on shadow IT, organizations may fail to address the real core issues: unmanaged users and machine-to-machine traffic. Traditional approaches will never see activity from users who access community portals from unmanaged devices without corporate credentials, for example. Additionally, apps are increasingly talking to each other directly- whether via the App Exchange, APIs, or OAuth- without the network having any idea that this is happening.
- Organizations are changing their outlook on security, and beginning to bake it in from the get-go, rather than treating it as an afterthought. New platform approaches treat security as API-based services that can be embedded into any app, rather than as something that needs to be bolted on after the fact. This applies to apps organizations buy, build and sell.
There are only so many things one vendor can do well. So rather than selling a vision of fully automated, completely intelligent products that can be deployed in 9 different ways, isn’t it time that we focus on solutions that can help organizations leverage what they already have? We call this security orchestration, where 1+1 = 3. Additional value is gained from cloud solutions that can work to enhance existing investments. At the end of the day, that’s what security in the cloud is all about. We are excited to see where this journey takes us until we meet again at next year’s RSA Conference.
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