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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.

Infrastructure Hygiene: Why It’s Critical for Protection

By Mike Rothman
After many decades as security professionals, it is depressing to have the same issues repeatedly. It’s kind of like we’re stuck in this hacker groundhog day. Get up, clean up after stupid users, handle a new attack, fill out compliance report, and then do it all over again. Of course, we all live in an asymmetrical world when it comes to security. The attackers only have to be right once, and they are in your environment. The defenders only have to be wrong once, and the attackers also gain a foothold. It’s not fair, but then again,

Data Security in the SaaS Age: Quick Wins

By Mike Rothman
As we wrap up our series on Data Security in the SaaS age, let’s work through a scenario to show how these concepts apply in a specific scenario. We’ll revisit the “small, but rapidly growing” pharmaceutical company we used as an example in our Data Guardrails and Behavioral Analytics paper. The CISO has seen the adoption of SaaS accelerate over the past two years. Given the increasing demand to work from anywhere at all organizations, the CTO and CEO have decided to minimize on-premise technology assets. A few years ago they shifted their approach to use data guardrails

Data Security in the SaaS Age: Thinking Small

By Mike Rothman
Our last post in Data Security in a SaaS World discussed how the use and sharing phases of the (frankly partially defunct) Data Security Lifecycle remain relevant. That approach hinges on a detailed understanding of each application to define appropriate policies for what is allowed and by whom. To be clear, these are not – and cannot be – generic policies. Each SaaS application is different and as such your policies must be different, so you (or a vendor or service provider) need to dig into it to understand what it does and who should do it. Now the fun part. The

Data Security in the SaaS Age: Focus on What You Control

By Mike Rothman
As we launched our series on Data Security in the SaaS Age, we described the challenge of protecting data as it continues to spread across dozens (if not hundreds) of different cloud providers. We also focused attention on the Data Security Triangle, as the best tool we can think of to keep focused on addressing at least one of the underlying prerequisites for a data breach (data, exploit, and exfiltration). If you break any leg of the triangle you stop the breach. The objective of this research is to rethink data security, which requires us to revisit where we’ve

Insight 6/2/2020: Walking Their Path

By Mike Rothman
Between Mira and I, we have 5 teenagers. For better or worse, the teenage experience of the kids this year looks quite a bit different; thanks COVID! They haven’t really been able to go anywhere, and although things are loosening up a bit here in Atlanta, we’ve been trying to keep them pretty isolated. To the degree we can. In having the kids around a lot more, you can’t help but notice both the subtle and major differences. Not just in personality, but in interests and motivation. Last summer (2019) was a great example. Our oldest, Leah, was around

Data Security in the SaaS Age: Rethinking Data Security

By Mike Rothman
Securosis has a long history of following and publishing on data security. Rich was the lead analyst on DLP about a zillion years ago during his time with Gartner. And when Securosis first got going (even before Mike joined), it was on the back of data security advisory and research. Then we got distracted by this cloud thing, and we haven’t gone back to refresh our research, given some minor shifts in how data is used and stored with SaaS driving the front office and IaaS/PaaS upending the data center (yes that was sarcasm). We described a lot

Insight 5/27/2020: Samson

By Mike Rothman
Do you ever play those wacky question games with your friends? You know, where the questions try to embarrass you and make you say silly things? I was never much of a game player, but sometimes it’s fun. At some point in every game, a question about your favorite physical feature comes up. A lot of people say their eyes. Or their legs. Or maybe some other (less obvious) feature. It would also be interesting to ask your significant other or friends what they thought. I shudder to think about that. But if you ask me, the answer is

Insight 5/14/2020: Hugs

By Mike Rothman
The pandemic is hard on everyone. (says the Master of the Obvious) It’s a combination of things. There are layers of fear — both from the standpoint of the health impact, as well as the financial challenges facing so many. We cannot underestimate the human toll, and unfortunately, the US has never prioritized mental health. As I mentioned last week in my inaugural new Insight, I’m not scared for myself, although too many people I care about are in vulnerable demographics. I’m lucky that (at least for now) the business is OK. I work in an industry that

Insight 5/4/2020: Confessions

By Mike Rothman
It’s a sunny late spring day. Mike steps into the dank building and can smell the must. It feels old but familiar. Strangely familiar. The building looks the same, but he knows it’s different. Too much time has passed. He steps into the confessional and starts to talk. Mike: Forgive me. It’s been almost 3 and a half years since I’ve been here. I’d say it was because I have been busy, which I have. But it’s not that. I spent close to 13 years here, and I had gone through a pretty significant personal transformation.

The TWELFTH Annual Disaster Recovery Breakfast: (IM)MATURITY

By Mike Rothman
For Rich and me, it seems like forever that we’ve been doing this cloud thing. We previewed the first CCSK class back at RSAC 2011, so we’re closing in on 10 years of hands-on, in the weeds cloud stuff. It’s fundamentally changed Securosis, and we ended up as founders of DisruptOps as well. Yet as the cloud giveth, it also taketh away. Adrian’s unique perspective on application and cloud security made him a great candidate to join Bank of America, so he did. It’s a great opportunity, but we’ll certainly miss having him around during RSAC
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