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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.

Evolving to Security Decision Support: Data to Intelligence

By Mike Rothman
As we kicked off the Evolving to Security Decision Support series, the point we needed to make is the importance of enterprise visibility to the success of your security program. Given all the moving pieces in your environment, including the usage of various clouds (SaaS and IaaS), mobile devices, containers, and eventually IoT devices – it’s increasingly hard to really know where your critical data is and how it’s being used. Though enterprise visibility is necessary, but not sufficient. You still have to figure out if/how you are being attacked and if/how data and/or apps are

Evolving to Security Decision Support: Visibility is Job #1

By Mike Rothman
To demonstrate our mastery of the obvious, it’s not getting easier to detect attacks. Not that it was ever really easy, but at least you used to know what tactics adversaries used, and you had a general idea of where they would end up, because you knew where your important data was, and which (single) type of device normally accessed it: the PC. It’s hard to believe we now long for the days of early PCs and centralized data repositories. But that is not today’s world. You face professional adversaries (and possibly nation-states) who use agile methods

The Future of Security Operations: Embracing the Machines

By Mike Rothman
To state the obvious, traditional security operations is broken. Every organization faces more sophisticated attacks, the possibility of targeted adversaries, and far more complicated infrastructure; compounding the problem, we have fewer skilled resources to execute on security programs. Obviously it’s time to evolve security operations by leveraging technology to both accelerate human work and take care of rote, tedious tasks which don’t add value. So security orchestration and automation are terms you will hear pretty consistently from here on out. Some security practitioners resist the idea of automation, mostly because if done incorrectly the ramifications are severe and

The Future of Security Operations: Regaining Balance

By Mike Rothman
The first post in this series, Behind the 8 Ball, raised a number of key challenges practicing security in our current environment. These include continual advancement and innovation by attackers seeking new ways to compromise devices and exfiltrate data, increasing complexity of technology infrastructure, frequent changes to said infrastructure, and finally the systemic skills shortage which limits our resources available to handle all the challenges created by the other issues. Basically, practitioners are behind the 8-ball in getting their job done and protecting corporate data. As we discussed in that earlier post, thinking differently about security entails you changing things up

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Top 10 Questions for Detection and Response

By Mike Rothman
There are plenty of obvious questions you could ask each endpoint security vendor. But they don’t really help you understand the nuances of their approach, so we decided to distill the selection criteria down to a few key points. We will provide both the questions and the reasons behind them. Q1: Where do you draw the line between prevention and EDR? The clear trend is towards an integrated advanced endpoint protection capability addressing prevention, detection, response, and hunting. That said, it may not be the right answer for any specific organization, depending on the adversaries they face and the

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Key Technologies for Detection and Response

By Mike Rothman
Now let’s dig into some key EDR technologies which appear across all the use cases: detection, response, and hunting. Agent The agent is deployed to each monitored endpoint, so you be sensitive to its size and its performance hit on devices. A main complaint regarding older endpoint protection was performance impact on devices. The smaller the better, and the less performance impact the better (duh!), but just as important is agent deployability and maintainability. Full capture versus metadata: There are differing strong opinions on how much telemetry to capture and store from each device. Similar to the question of

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Key Capabilities for Response and Hunting

By Mike Rothman
The next set of key Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) capabilities we will discuss is focused on response and hunting. Response Response begins after the attack has happened. Basically, Pandora’s Box is open and an active adversary is on your endpoints, probably stealing your stuff. So you need to understand the depth of the attack, and to focus on containment and returning the environment to a known safe state as quickly as possible. Understand that detection and response are considered different use cases when evaluating endpoint security vendors, but you aren’t really going to buy detection without buying

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Key Capabilities for Detection

By Mike Rothman
As we resume posting Endpoint Detection and Response (D/R) selection criteria, let’s start with a focus on the Detection use case. Before we get too far into capabilities, we should clear up some semantics about the word ‘detection’. Referring back to our timeline in Prevention Selection Criteria, detection takes place during execution. You could make the case that detection of malicious activity is what triggers blocking, and so a pre-requisite to attack prevention – without detection, how could you know what to prevent?. But that’s too confusing. For simplicity let’s just say prevention means blocking an attack

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Detection and Response Use Cases

By Mike Rothman
As we continue documenting what you need to know to understand Endpoint Advanced Protection offerings, it’s time to delve into Detection and Response. Remember that before you are ready to pick anything, you need to understand the problem you are trying to solve. Detecting all endpoint attacks within microseconds and without false positives isn’t really achievable. You need to determine the key use cases most important to you, and make an honest assessment of your team and adversaries. Why is this introspection necessary? Nobody ever says they don’t want to detect active attacks and hunt for adversaries.

Endpoint Advanced Protection Buyer’s Guide: Top 10 Questions on Prevention

By Mike Rothman
There are plenty of obvious questions you could ask an endpoint security vendor. But most won’t really help you understand the nuances of their approach, so we decided to distill the selection criteria down to a couple of key points. We’ll provide not just the questions, but the rationale behind them. Q1 If your prevention capabilities rely on machine learning, how and how often are your machine learning models retrained? An explanation here should provide some perspective on the vendor’s approach to math and the ‘half-life’ of their models, which indicates how quickly they believe malware attack
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