The RSA rollercoaster – takeaways from 2017
Attending the RSA Conference always feels a bit like going on a rollercoaster – there’s the anticipation and build-up in the days beforehand, then suddenly you’re there, it starts and you’re swept along by the high-speed ride. It’s only when you step off at the end that you can start to process your impressions of it.
I found this year’s event was particularly notable for several reasons. First, I felt it was busier compared with the previous couple of years. Second, the main buzz of the event seemed to be centered less around advanced persistent threats and traditional security issues, and more on emerging issues like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and IoT security. And third, there was a big emphasis at RSA on network visibility, as a cornerstone of an organization’s security infrastructure.
There are good reasons why these issues have become security priorities over the past 12 months. AI can generate strong insights and drive faster business decisions, especially in security, as Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet stated in an RSA session. He cited the example of an AI engine being able to identify and analyze traffic patterns that could indicate an upcoming DDoS attack from a botnet of thousands of compromised IoT devices, with minimal human intervention. AI could also be used to preemptively identify and block new malware, or to spot indicators of compromise on a network.
Securing the expanding IoT is a necessity – in late 2016 we saw the impact of the giant Mirai botnet, which harnesses compromised smart devices. The IoT offers opportunities that can’t be overlooked, so we need to find ways to better protect IoT devices. In-depth, automated testing of devices will be key to this – and we saw a lot of inquiries at our booth about this very issue.
And it’s no surprise that network visibility has become an issue for enterprises. We’re in the middle of a seismic shift in IT, with the adoption of cloud computing, virtualized networks and the explosion in connected devices, and as the old saying puts it: “If you can’t see it, you can’t secure it”. We will soon be announcing the results of a new enterprise survey into network visibility, but here are a couple of teaser findings: network visibility is the main way that 54% of respondents discover and identify network breaches, and 61% named visibility as either their #1 IT priority or a top IT priority for 2017. Now more than ever, it seems organizations need ways to eliminate the blind spots on their networks, to help them uncover and remediate threats and vulnerabilities that could be lurking there.
So now we’ve all stepped off the RSA rollercoaster, there’s just one question left to ask. See you there next year?