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Mike Rothman, Analyst & President

Mike’s bold perspectives and irreverent style are invaluable as companies determine effective strategies to grapple with the dynamic security threatscape. Mike specializes in the sexy aspects of security, like protecting networks and endpoints, security management, and compliance. Mike is one of the most sought after speakers and commentators in the security business and brings a deep background in information security. After 20 years in and around security, he’s one of the guys who “knows where the bodies are buried” in the space.

Starting his career as a programmer and a networking consultant, Mike joined META Group in 1993 and spearheaded META’s initial foray into information security research. Mike left META in 1998 to found SHYM Technology, a pioneer in the PKI software market, and then held VP Marketing roles at CipherTrust and TruSecure – providing experience in marketing, business development, and channel operations for both product and services companies.

After getting fed up with vendor life, he started Security Incite in 2006 to provide the voice of reason in an over-hyped yet underwhelming security industry. After taking a short detour as Senior VP, Strategy and CMO at eIQnetworks to chase shiny objects in security and compliance management, Mike joins Securosis with a rejuvenated cynicism about the state of security and what it takes to survive as a security professional.

Mike published “The Pragmatic CSO” in 2007 to introduce technically oriented security professionals to the nuances of what is required to be a senior security professional. He also possesses a very expensive engineering degree in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering from Cornell University. His folks are overjoyed that he uses literally zero percent of his education on a daily basis. He can be reached at mrothman (at) securosis (dot) com.

Identifying the biggest challenges in running security teams

By Mike Rothman
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 10 years since I published the Pragmatic CSO. Quite a bit has changed in terms of being a senior security professional. Adversaries continuously improve and technology infrastructure is undergoing the most significant disruption I’ve seen in 25 years in technology. It’s never been more exciting – or harder – to be a security professional. The one constant I hear in pretty much every conversation I have with practitioners is the ‘people’ issue. Machines aren’t ready to take over quite yet, so you need people to execute your security program. I’m wondering

Introducing Threat Operations: TO in Action

By Mike Rothman
As we wrap up our Introduction to Threat Operations series, let’s recap. We started by discussing why the way threats are handled hasn’t yielded the results the industry needs and how to think differently. Then we delved into what’s really required to keep pace with increasingly sophisticated adversaries: accelerating the human. To wrap up let’s use these concepts in a scenario to make them more tangible. We’ll tell the story of a high-tech component manufacturer named ComponentCo. Yes, we’ve been working overtime on creative naming. ComponentCo (CCo) makes products that go into the leading

Introducing Threat Operations: Accelerating the Human

By Mike Rothman
In the first post of our Introducing Threat Operations Series, we explored the need for much stronger operational discipline around handling threats. With all the internal and external security data available, and the increasing sophistication of analytics, organizations should be doing a better job of handling threats. If what you are doing isn’t working, it’s time to start thinking differently about the problem, and addressing the root causes underlying the inability to handle threats. It comes down to _accelerating the human: making your practitioners better through training, process, and technology. With all the focus on orchestration and automation

Security Analytics Team of Rivals: A Glimpse into the Future

By Mike Rothman
A lot of our research is conceptual, so we like to wrap up with a scenario. This helps make the ideas a bit more tangible, and provides context for you to apply it to your particular situation. To illuminate how the Security Analytics Team of Rivals can work, let’s consider a scenario involving a high-growth retailer who needs to maintain security while scaling operations which are stressed by that growth. So far our company, which we’ll call GrowthCo, has made technology a key competitive lever, especially around retail operations, to keep things lean and efficient. As scaling issues

Introducing Threat Operations: Thinking Differently

By Mike Rothman
Let’s start with a rhetorical question: Can you really “manage” threats? Is that even a worthy goal? And how do you even define a threat. We’ve seen a more accurate description of how adversaries operate by abstracting multiple attacks/threats into a campaign. That intimates a set of interrelated attacks all with a common mission. That seems like a better way to think about how you are being attacked, rather than the whack a mole approach of treating every attack as a separate thing and defaulting to the traditional threat management cycle: Prevent (good luck), Detect, Investigate, Remediate.

Security Analytics Team of Rivals: Coexistence Among Rivals

By Mike Rothman
As we described in the introduction to this series, security monitoring has been around for a long time and is evolving quickly. But one size doesn’t fit all, so if you are deploying a Team of Rivals they will need to coexist for a while. Either the old guard evolves to meet modern needs, or the new guard will supplant them. But in the meantime you need to figure out how to solve a problem: detecting advanced attackers in your environment. We don’t claim to be historians, but the concept behind Lincoln’s Team of Rivals (Hat tip

REMINDER: Register for the Disaster Recovery Breakfast

By Mike Rothman
If you are going to be in San Francisco next week. Yes, next week. How the hell is the RSA Conference next week? Anyhow, don’t forget to swing by the Disaster Recovery Breakfast and say hello Thursday morning. Our friends from Kulesa Faul, CHEN PR, LaunchTech, and CyberEdge Group will be there. And hopefully Rich will remember his pants, this time.

Security Analytics Team of Rivals: Introduction [New Series]

By Mike Rothman
Security monitoring has been a foundational element of most every security program for over a decade. The initial driver for separate security monitoring infrastructure was the overwhelming amount of alerts flooding out of intrusion detection devices, which required some level of correlation to determine which mattered. Soon after, compliance mandates (primarily PCI-DSS) emerged as a forcing function, providing a clear requirement for log aggregation – which SIEM already did. As the primary security monitoring technology, SIEM became entrenched for alert reduction and compliance reporting. But everything changes, and the requirements for security monitoring have evolved. Attacks have become much more sophisticated,

Dynamic Security Assessment: In Action

By Mike Rothman
In the first two posts of this Dynamic Security Assessment series, we delved into the limitations of security testing and then presented the process and key functions you need to implement it. To illuminate the concepts and make things a bit more tangible, let’s consider a plausible scenario involving a large financial services enterprise with hundreds of locations. Our organization has a global headquarters on the West Coast of the US, and 4 regional headquarters across the globe. Each region has a data center and IT operations folks to run things. The security team is centralized under a global CISO,

Secure Networking in the Cloud Age: Use Cases

By Mike Rothman
As we wrap up our series on secure networking in the cloud era, we have covered the requirements and migration considerations for this new network architecture – highlighting increased flexibility for configuration, scaling, and security services. In a technology environment which can change as quickly as a developer hitting ‘commit’ for a new feature, infrastructure needs to keep pace, and that is not something most enterprises can or should build themselves. One of the cornerstones of this approach to building networks is considering the specific requirements of the site, users, and applications, when deciding whether to buy or build the underlying
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