Thursday, February 8, 2007

RSA Highlights

I really enjoyed the RSA Conference this year. It was crazy.

Tuesday was packed, but Wednesday was even busier - Doug and I had 12 meetings in eight hours, followed by a series of ten minute "power dating" sessions and demos at the show - during which I finally got to see some security technology.

Tim Shull of Crossbeam gave me a great overview of what the company is doing, and I finally got to see some of the boxes (us software guys ship stuff to the box guys all the time but rarely get to see them for real). Crossbeam and Authentium really do much the same thing - both companies enable choice, while focusing on quality of service: the difference is Crossbeam ships hardware packed with integrated technologies from multiple vendors to data centers, while Authentium ships integrated technologies from multiple vendors to end points.

Down the hall from Crossbeam, I met with Mike Lloyd, Chief Scientist of RedSeal. SC Magazine recently lauded RedSeal as "the only company that truly understands IT risks". The system is designed to enable discovery of potential vulnerabilities across the network, and view the impact of them from the standpoint of pathways through the entire system. It displays in detail where the vulnerabilities exist, and what devices could potentially be targeted or abused, and in what manner. It appeared to me to be an excellent tool for security consultants and auditors.

Scott Montgomery of Secure Computing pointed me over to Tarari, a company that focuses on accelerating the processing of data such as virus definition files. I can see why Symantec and our appliance and service providers partners are signing up up for this - the optimization rate differential shown in the demo was tremendous. Although our engine is already highly optimized, we will definitely be taking a look at joining Kaspersky on this platform.

At the CA booth, I took a tour through their new antivirus and antispyware enterprise management system and came away with a big smile. The Authentium system is light years better than CA's. Not only did the CA solution have a smaller feature set relative to our own ESP Enterprise Manager, but the CA solution manages just two end point applications - EZTrust Vet, and CA PestPatrol. Our system is capable of managing these, plus an unlimited number of additional soft blades from multiple vendors.

Finally, we met with analysts from several of the investment banking and business intelligence units. These guys seemed to be most interested in VirtualATM - and in our demo of "phidgeting" (PHIshing using wiDGETs - see my January post entitled "The Birth of Phidgeting).

Companies to watch? Authentium, of course. You could pick any aisle at the conference and walk down it and find an Authentium ESP partner. Ambiron Trustwave - what a great business model. SignaCert could be interesting - their approach to enabling trusted computing is elegant and timely. And of course Prevx, which has a very interesting behavioral analysis approach that I will personally keeping an eye on over the next year, as will Helmuth Freericks, our CTO.

Of course the real highlight was getting to hang out with Doug and Kirk and Ann and our partners after hours and get relaxed and get caught up. Following drinks with the guys from OPSWAT, we had a great night out on Tuesday with the guys from Microsoft, SurfControl and Sunbelt - and Brian Krebs, who writes a terrific blog on security for the Washington Post.

There was a great moment when the guys from Sunbelt Software won an award for Ninja - the product our AV engine sits inside. Drinks were on them for the rest of the night.

Note: Brian Krebs story on the public computer kiosks at the show running in full administrator mode (and the attendant risks) will be talked about for years - you can check out his story (and the picture) here.

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