Friday Summary: May 6, 2011

A few months back one my dogs knocked over one my speakers. Sent it flying, actually. 3’ 50lb wood cabinet speaker – as if it wasn’t there. The culprit is still a puppy, but when she gets ripping, she can pretty much take out any piece of furniture I own. And she has a big butt. She seems to run into everything butt first, which is impressive as she does not walk backwards. Wife calls her ‘J-Lo’. She learned how to spin from playing with my boxer, and now she spins out of control when she is amped up. Big ass, right into a chair… BANG! I miss having music in the living room, so I thought I would solve the problem by bringing out a pair of tower speakers from the back room. They are six feet tall and weigh 180lb each. I thought that was the perfect solution, until she moved the piano a half of an inch with one of her spins. For the sake of the speakers, and my health, I removed all stereo components from the living room. But I still want music so I have been searching for small electronics to put on the shelf in the kitchen. My requirements were pretty simple: Decent quality music that won’t become a projectile of death. I began shopping and found, well, everything. I found hundreds of portable DAC’s, the size of a cigarette pack, for the iPhone & iPad. There are lots of boom boxes, desktop radios, and miniature receivers. I ordered the iHome IP1 because it got good reviews and – while the audiophile in me hates to admit it – it just looked good. I was really excited when it arrived last week and I cleared off a space for it, cleaned up the shelf, got everything plugged in, and updated my music library with some fresh tunes. Only problem – it sucked. Or maybe it was defective, I don’t really know. Won’t play music from an iPhone 4, iPad, or iPod touch – only the iPhone 3GS. And when it did play, it sounded underwater. Ugh. Really freakin’ bad. So I am still searching for a good desktop radio that I can stream music to from my iDevices. If you have reasonably priced recommendations let me know. For now I am just playing from the built in speakers, which is better than nothing. On to the Summary: Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences Mike on the Importance of Application Intelligence. Adrian’s DR post on How To Respond To The Sony Attacks. Favorite Securosis Posts Adrian Lane: SDLC and Entropy. See Gunnar’s take. David Mortman: What’s Old Is New again. And we wonder why our lives (in security anyway) are described as the “hamster wheel of pain.” We repeat the same stuff over and over again. With maybe a twist or two (as Adrian astutely points out), but the plot is the same. So is the end result. Sigh. Mike Rothman: Why We Didn’t Pick the Cloud (Mostly) and That’s OK. Who else gives you such a look into the thought processes behind major decisions? Right, no one. You’re welcome. Other Securosis Posts Earth to Symantec: AV doesn’t stop the APT. Incite 5/4/2011: Free Agent Status Enabled. Standards: Should You Care? (Probably Not). Software vs. Appliance: Virtual Appliances. Software vs. Appliance: Data Collection. Favorite Outside Posts Adrian Lane: VMWare Building Clouds? An interesting look at virtual platform use by cloud providers. David Mortman: The Rise of Data-Driven Security. I love it when we get validated by a heavy hitter like Scott. Mike Rothman: Summary of the Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS Service Disruption in the US East Region. Great explanation from Amazon about their EC2 FAIL a few weeks back. You can learn a lot about cloud architecture, as well as get a feel for how complicated it is to really scale. It’s like a tightrope walk every time they have to scale (which is probably constantly). This time they fell off and went splat. Let’s hope the net is positioned a bit more effectively next time. Project Quant Posts DB Quant: Index. NSO Quant: Index of Posts. NSO Quant: Health Metrics–Device Health. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Monitor Issues/Tune IDS/IPS. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Deploy and Audit/Validate. NSO Quant: Manage Metrics–Process Change Request and Test/Approve. Research Reports and Presentations React Faster and Better: New Approaches for Advanced Incident Response. Measuring and Optimizing Database Security Operations (DBQuant). Network Security in the Age of Any Computing. The Securosis 2010 Data Security Survey. Monitoring up the Stack: Adding Value to SIEM. Top News and Posts Fake Mac Security Software It’s drive-by malware… if you actually click all the buttons and install it. Anonymous claims no involvement in Sony hacks. How to disappear completely. Yeah, more Sony mayhem. Barracuda Breach Post Mortem Analysis. Test-Driving IBM’s SmartCloud. Interesting analysis of IBM’s ‘SmartCloud’ trial product. In fairness, it’s very early in the development process. Zero-Day Attack trends via Krebs. Second installment. Makes you think security companies are not eating their own dog food. LastPass Forces Users to Pick Another Password It’s bad when the salt is stolen with the hashed passwords… now it becomes a dictionary attack. If it was a foreign government (wink-wink), they have the resources to crack all the passwords. Nikon Image Authentication System Compromised. Interesting read. Blog Comment of the Week Remember, for every comment selected, Securosis makes a $25 donation to Hackers for Charity. This week’s best comment goes to ds, in response to Earth to Symantec: AV doesn’t stop the APT . The reality here is that SYMC is a very successful security vendor with a lot of customers and many solutions. They aren’t stupid and press announcements like this aren’t driven by ignorance. Sadly, they will sell product to customers based on this. It speaks volumes about the buyer and their ability to understand complex security issues and appropriate remedies. In short, most “security” professionals can’t, and many companies don’t even have “security” professionals on

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Sophos Wishes upon A-star-o

In the security industry successful companies need have breadth and scale. Security is and will remain an overhead function, so end users must strive to balance broad coverage against efficiency to control, and hopefully reduce, overhead. Scoff as you may, but integration at all levels of the stack does happen, and that favors bigger companies with broader product portfolios. That trend drove Sophos’s rather aggressive move this morning to acquire Astaro, a UTM vendor. I won’t speculate on deal size, but Astaro did about $60MM on the top line last year and was profitable. They also were owned by the management team (after a recent buy-out of the investors), so there was no economic driver forcing the deal. So you have to figure Sophos made a generous offer to get it done. And congrats to Sophos for not mentioning APT in the deal announcement – not even once. At least the Europeans can show some restraint. Deal Rationale Get big or get out. It’s pretty simple, and given the deep private equity pockets (APAX Partners) that acquired Sophos last year, it’s not surprising for them to start making aggressive moves to broaden the portfolio. We believe Astaro is a good partner, given the lack of overlap in product lines, general synergies in the target market, and ability to leverage each other’s strengths. Let’s hit each of these topics. First of all, Sophos has no network security products. There are only two must-have mass market security technologies: AV and firewalls. If Sophos is going to be a long term player in the space they need both. The only overlap is in the content security space, where Sophos has email and web security gateways. But Sophos’ products are hardly competitive in that market so moving customers to Astaro’s integrated platform makes sense. We also like the value Sophos’ research team can bring to Astaro. Clearly reputation and malware analysis is valuable at all levels of the security stack, and Astaro can make their network security products better immediately by integrating the content into the gateway. Astaro brings a lot of customer intelligence to the table. By that I mean Astaro’s real time link to each gateway in the field and granular knowledge of what each box is doing, where it’s deployed, and what it’s running. That kind of intelligence can add value to endpoints as well. Both companies have also largely targeted the mid-market – although they each point to some enterprise accounts, the reality is that they excel with smaller companies. They’ll be strong in EMEA and Asia, but have their work cut out for them in the US. The ability to field a broad product line should help bring additional channel partners onboard, perhaps at the expense of less nimble AV incumbents. There are also some good cultural synergies between the companies. Both European. Both known for strong technology, and not such strong marketing. Given that both endpoint and network security are replacement markets, it’s usually about sucking less than the incumbent, and we think the bigger Sophos should be able to grow share on that basis. Achilles Heel Keep in mind that Sophos did one other deal of this magnitude, Utimaco, a couple years back, which turned into a train wreck. The real issue in the success of this deal isn’t markets or synergies – it’s integration. If they didn’t learn anything from the Utimaco situation this won’t end well. But current indications that they will leave Astaro as a stand-alone entity for the time being, while looking for good opportunities for integration, which would be a logical plan. The key will be to make both product lines stronger quickly, with limited integration. Check Point never did much with their endpoint offering because it didn’t leverage the capabilities of the perimeter platform and vice-versa. Sophos can’t afford to make that same mistake. We also hope Sophos locked in Astaro’s management for a couple years and would look to leverage some of that talent in bigger roles within Sophos. Competitive Impact Having offerings on both the endpoint and network gives Sophos a differentiated position, with only McAfee (of the big players) having products in both spaces. Given the need for mid-market companies to alleviate the complexity of securing their stuff, having everything under one roof is key. Will Symantec or Trend now go and buy a network security thingy? Probably not in the short term (especially given the lack of compelling choices to buy), but in the long run big security companies need products in both categories. Overall, we like this deal. The devil is in the integration details, but this is the kind of decisive move that can make Sophos one of the long term survivors in the security space. Share:

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