And this is it: the final piece of the Securosis Guide to the RSA Conference 2010. Yes, there will be a lot to see at the show, and we hope this guide has been helpful for those planning to be in San Francisco. For those of you not able to attend, we’d like to think getting a feel for the major trends in each of our coverage areas wasn’t a total waste of time.

Anyhow, without further ado, let’s talk about another of the big 3 themes, and the topic you love to hate (until it allows you to fund a project): compliance.


Compliance isn’t merely a major theme for the show, it’s also likely the biggest driver of your security spending. While there’s no such thing as a compliance solution, many security technologies play a major role in helping achieve and maintain compliance.

What We Expect to See

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

  • New Regulations/Standards: Over the past year we’ve seen the passing or increased enforcement of a handful of new regulations with security implications – the HITECH act in healthcare, NERC-CIP for energy utilities, and the Massachusetts data protection law (201 CMR 17.00). Each of these adds either new requirements or greater penalties than previous regulations in their industries, which is sure to get the attention of senior management. While PCI is still the biggest driver in our industry, you’ll see a big push on these new requirements. If you are in one of the targeted verticals, we suggest you brush up on your specific requirements. Many of the vendors don’t really understand the specific industry details, and are pushing hard on the FUD factor. Ask which requirements they meet and how, then cut vendors who don’t get it. Your best bet is to talk with your auditor or assessor before the show to find out where you have deficiencies, and focus on addressing those issues.
  • The ‘Easy’ Compliance Button: While it isn’t a new trend, we expect to see a continued push to either reduce the cost and complexity of compliance, or convince you that vendors can. Rapid deployment, checkbox rules sets, and built-in compliance reports will top feature lists. While these capabilties might help you get off to a good start, even checkbox regulations can’t always be satisfied with checkbox solutions. Instead of focusing on the marketing messaging, before you wander the floor have an idea of the areas where you either need to improve efficiency, or have an existing deficiency. Many of the reporting features really can reduce your overhead, but enforcement features are trickier. Also, turning on all those checkboxes (especially in tools with alerts) might actually increase the time the tool eats up. Ask to walk through the interface yourself rather than sticking with the canned demos – that will give you a much better sense of whether the product can help more than it hurts. Also check on licensing, and whether you have to pay more for each compliance feature or rule set.
  • IT-GRC and Pretty Dashboards: Even though only a handful of large enterprises actually buy GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) products, plan on seeing a lot of GRC tools and banners on the show floor. Most of you don’t need dedicated IT-GRC tools, but you do need good compliance reporting in your existing security tools. Dashboards are also great eye candy – and some can be quite useful – but many are more sales tools for internal use than serious efforts to improve the security of your environment. Dig in past the top layer of GRC tools and security dashboards. Are they really the sorts of things that will help you get your job done better or faster? If not, focus on obtaining good compliance reports using your existing tools. You can use these reports to keep assessors/auditors happy and reduce audit costs.

Just in case you are getting to the party late, you can download the entire guide (PDF). Or check out the other posts in our RSAC Guide: Network SecurityData SecurityApplication SecurityEndpoint SecurityContent SecurityVirtualization/Cloud Security, and Security Management.