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RSA: the Only Difference Between a Rut and a Grave Is the Depth

By Melissa

I think Rich may still be sleep deprived, but on the upside his recap did elicit my loudest laugh of the day. See if you can spot the sentence that caused it.

Rich’s Recap

I wish I had something witty and insightful to say about the first full day of RSA, but that would involve actually seeing more of the show than my own presentations and the insides of meeting rooms. And while it’s technically the first day of the conference, it’s my third day of entirely too much talking and walking. So here are a few crib notes.

  • Started the day by noticing I was supposed to record a video for a presentation I hadn’t written yet. Resolved post-breakfast-meeting thanks to a convenient coffee shop. Good thing it was on EDRM… not like anyone is using it anyway.
  • I really am starting to see some interesting cloud-specific security tools floating around out there. Yes, there are a bunch of companies that just converted their existing software into virtual appliances, but the ones building from the ground up for cloud are showing some nice innovation. Serious improvement over last year.
  • Gave my DLP talk today. I’ve stared at the same damn DLP slides for so many years now that I just couldn’t bring myself to look at them again. So I shut them off and went commando. I may have freaked some people out. One dude was writing bullet points on a pad and holding them in front of his face. Seems like most people liked it. Maybe. That’s what I’ll tell myself as I try to fall asleep tonight.
  • Had a cloud panel with the worst freaking title in history. Something like “Public and private sectors: why are agencies hesitant to adopt the cloud?” No, seriously, I’m not making this *&%^ up. I figured 2 people might show up, but the room was full and the panel went well. Turns out we had the CISO of eBay, a senior legal counsel for security and privacy at GE, a muckety-muck from NIST, and the CSO of Qualys. Tons of audience questions, many around all the sticky issues of using cloud with some semblance of control. Guess what folks – if you have developers with corporate credit cards, you’re in the cloud.
  • Show floor is full of blinky lights. Loud dudes in suits talking. Free cars. Seriously. I guess security is big business.
  • All this work junk is seriously impeding my ability to consume vast amounts of frothy beverages. Early bed tonight, mostly due to losing my voice and still having 3 presentations to go.

–Rich

Did you catch it? If not, here it is. A quote that shall live on in infamy (at least if I have anything to do with it): “So I shut them off and went commando. I may have freaked some people out.” I’d say that’s a safe assumption, Rich.


Next up we have The Old Man, aka Mike

Here are my observations from today:

  1. I’m getting old: There was a time I could drink all night and be productive during the day. But those days have passed. It’s getting harder to ramp up my partying, knowing I have a number of panels and even more meetings tomorrow. Yes, I’m old. And the blue-haired booth babes that a nobody vendor had in their booth annoyed me. What the hell? Get off my lawn!
  2. RSA is not the real world: I had a conversation with a bunch of investors and needed to remind them that the messaging and solutions pushed at us at RSA are not reflective of the real needs of the market. Not even close. But in the reality distortion field of the Moscone Center it’s easy to forget that most companies don’t even know how many devices they have.
  3. Shamans and snake oil salesmen: We don’t make decisions based on data, but generally through a leap of faith. Do you know if your IPS or AV really works? If you said either yes or no, you are wrong. You have no idea. You may have a hunch, but you don’t have the data to actually know. So anything you buy to address an issue is a leap of faith. If you can grok the philosophy of whoever is selling you stuff, then they are shamans. But those are few and far between. Unfortunately most are charlatans selling snake oil backed by ridiculous promises and hyperbole that prey upon the suckers born every minute. And there are plenty of them.
  4. This industry sucks at marketing: In tooling around the show floor, I realized the entire industry can’t market worth a crap. Nonstop technical jargon, with stupid parlor tricks like magicians, booth babes, and smoothies focused on standing out from the crowd. How about trying this on for size? Tell customers what you do in simple, problem oriented terms. Nobody gives a shit about the size of your widget or your blinky lights.
  5. Other random thoughts: I really shouldn’t be around people for a week straight. Thankfully I’m unarmed. If you are going to drink to excess, STFU before you say something stupid. Folks who can bust your stuff don’t need to tell you that – those who need to boast can look forward to reading their email spool on a torrent.

I also decided that if we ever have a SecurosisCon, I will give a keynote in an Elvis suit. And on that note, I’d better go to sleep before someone gets hurt.

–Mike

That’s right. Stay out of Mike’s way or he will run you down with his walker. Let’s just hope he doesn’t throw out his hip. Again.

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Comments

Thank you for taking time out of your hellish week to trickle out some thoughts! They made for a really great post, btw!

@Melissa/Rich: I caught the commando line, but the line I really liked was this, “...if you have developers with corporate credit cards, you’re in the cloud.”  I’d add that if your controls are already poor, then your developers/business has at least one of your balls in the cloud. This means lax developer oversight, porous firewalls, bad policy, lack of communication between dev/ops/sec, etc. If they have the chance to use it, the devs/business will use it.

@Mike 3: “Do you know if your IPS or AV really works?” I may formulate some opinion eventually that this is a pivotal question, i.e. it will tell you a lot about a firm’s/CISO’s philosophy on security. Do you bother looking at or investigating the strengths or weaknesses of your AV (or control X)? You can, but not everyone will, or even should especially if that’s not a core competency of your business line. Ultimately, you’re correct: lots of people selling shit that simply doesn’t work, is being oversold, costs far more than the sticker price, etc. There are exceedingly few tools that will even do their narrowlly defined scope/control very well and without staff behind them…

@Mike 4: I think your previous point explains your observation here. Technical jargon and selling something which doesn’t successfully do jack except in very narrow use-cases. The more smoke and mirrors and technical garbage that doesn’t *mean* anything a company or sales team puts up, the more I believe they don’t use their own products. If they did, they should be able to talk about them in an everyday sort of way, which is what we really want/need. It would also help product development!

That or these products are too deep to use easily or talk about easily, but again points back to a certain level of staff needed…

By LonerVamp


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