Security Management

Compliance is still driving most of what happens from a management standpoint, which is why have a specific compliance section below. On the security management front, there was still plenty of activity in 2010. But most customers continued to feel the same way: underwhelmed. It’s still very hard to keep control of much of anything, which is problematic as the number of devices and amount of sensitive data grow exponentially. Good times. Good times.

What We Expect to See

There are a couple areas of interest at the show for security management:

  • The (Not) Easy Button: Given the absolutely correct perspective of customers that security management is too complex, difficult, ponderous, and lots of other negative descriptors, we expect vendors to focus on ease of use for many of these security management tools (especially SIEM/Log Management). Don’t believe them. They continue to sell false hope. To be fair, the tools are much improved. Interfaces are better. User experience is tolerable. But it’s still not easy. 
So spend some time in the booth checking out interfaces. How you set up rules, analyze data, and generate reports. Make the demo dude go into excruciating detail on how things really get done with the tool. Remember, anything you select, you will need to live with. So do your homework and choose wisely.
  • The next act for scanners: Vulnerability management is so 2005. But tack on some kind of cloud stuff and it’s, uh, 2007? The new new shiny object is configuration auditing/policy compliance. Which actually makes sense because you need to scrutinize the device to check for vulnerabilities, so why not just assess the configuration while you are at it. And just as with vulnerability scanning, the question will be whether you do it on-site or via a cloud service. Or both, because we expect most vendors to offer both.
  • MSS comes of age: The good news is that folks finally realize it’s not novel to monitor firewalls or IPS themselves, and combined with consolidation of pretty much all the big players, this means MSS isn’t a big deal anymore. So the big vendors with big booths will be talking about their monitoring (and even management) services. If you still have 5 folks parsing firewall alerts, check out these offerings. At minimum it will be interesting to get a sense of how efficiently you do things internally. Just make sure you understand exactly what the service and support model is, because when alerts start firing you don’t want to be dialing the main number of a $100 billion telco.
  • Start-up X, a Big IT company: Big IT, with its big management stacks and big professional services teams, will be at RSAC in force. Maybe they’ll even have a story for how all the crap they’ve bought over the past year makes Big IT finally relevant in the security space. You’ll see HP and IBM (and EMC and Cisco and Juniper) in 5-6 different booths each, because companies they acquired had already committed to exhibit in this year’s show. They should have one of those passport programs, just to make sure you visit all their booths to win an iPad or something like that.


Compliance isn’t merely a major theme for the show, it’s also likely the biggest driver of your security spending. But that doesn’t mean folks don’t want to minimize the cost and hassle of compliance, so scope reduction will be a major theme that we hear throughout the show. While there’s no such thing as a compliance solution, many security technologies play major roles in helping achieve and maintain compliance.

What We Expect to See

With compliance we will see a mix of regulation-focused messages and compliance-specific technologies:

  • PCI & Tokenization: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is the single regulation that generates the most attention, and a lot of the growth for security and compliance spending. And frankly, especially within the retail and finance verticals, companies are looking to reduce costs and minimize PCI audits. It’s viewed as little more than a tax on the business so they want to at least reduce — if not eliminate — the expense. At the show this year, we expect you’ll hear and see a lot about tokenization. This approach substitutes credit card numbers stored at a merchant site with a harmless, well, token. It only represents the credit card transaction, so a stolen token cannot be used to commit fraud. At the show, focus on the sessions where savvy users talk about how they reduce the scope of PCI audits along with the associated costs of securing credit card data using this approach. While only a handful of tokenization vendors will be at the show, many of the payment processors have partnered with technology providers to offer tokenization as a managed service. Expect to see plenty of interest and discussion on this topic, and long lines at select vendor booths.
  • There’s an App for That: Expect to see vendors offer neat iPhone and iPad apps for their management and reporting products. Sure, reports and dashboards are popular with vendors because they bring the eye candy sales teams want to demonstrate product value. But what’s cooler than a fancy dashboard? A fancy new iPhone. Put the two together and it’s like two great eye-candies that go great together! It’s going to be a big hit. Not just because anyone really wants to take that FISMA report with them in their pocket; it’s because IT, sales, and marketing all secretly lust after the new toy. It’s the thought of catching a spring training game while configuring SIEM policies. Does it make you more productive? Maybe. But having your IT products running on the toy justifies the purchase of both. Yeah, anywhere, anytime access is pretty cool too, but it’s like getting two for one. Expect to see this everywhere!
  • GRC Oopsie: Last year we expected to see a lot of collateral about GRC: Governance, Risk, and Compliance. And we did. It’s a convenient term to encapsulate a lot of compliance, operations, and regulatory issues under one umbrella. The problem is that most customers don’t see their challenges the same way. Only a handful of large enterprises actually buy GRC products, most have specific problems to address within specific regulations, and they need a tool that will fit within their operational model. So 2010 saw a lot of GRC tools and banners on the show floor, and after falling on their faces, this year GRC will be mostly absent. Look for vendors to position their products within an operations management framework, with enterprise workflow management and advanced trouble ticket integration. Policy compliance and operations management put the focus back on the issues most customers want to address.

And with that, that’s all she wrote for the RSA Guide 2011. We’ll also post where we’ll be speaking and appearing during the conference, if any of you want to say hi. Let us know if the guide is useful. We’ll also be assembling and posting the entire RSA Guide tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.