A Walking Tour of the RSA Conference

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Here I am at my 10th RSA Conference and as much as things have changed, they always seem to stay the same. As I walk through the doors to the expo hall I see a handful of vendors with very large booths pitching their comprehensive, end-to-end security offerings. Then as I venture further to the back and sides of the floor I find hundreds of smaller vendors wanting to talk about everything from encryption to multifactor authentication, from firewalls to intrusion detection, and from identity and access management to penetration testing.

Every one of those vendors (big or small) will tell you that what they have to offer – whether it’s a semi-comprehensive suite or a very targeted point solution to a specific problem – is the end-all, be-all of security. I’m no different. At Dell we have solutions that map to the vast majority of offerings from the front-and-center and the nether-reaches of the show floor. And I’ve been on all sides as well. Today Dell is one of the “big boys” and if you stop by our booth we will happily talk about the wide range of security offerings available through Dell. But prior to Dell acquiring my previous company, Quest Software, I participated at RSA in a much smaller presence with a much narrower focus. And before that, I was one of those outliers that spent half of our annual marketing budget to shout the benefits of a highly specialized area of security. Each time my mindset has been, “this thing we’re offering is the greatest thing since sliced bread and everyone at this show should be talking to me…it’s that important!”

But I know that those of you attending RSA (not exhibiting) are here for your own reasons. And those reasons run the gamut of what’s available on the show floor. I don’t expect anyone to stop by the Dell booth and say “I’m here to buy ‘security’ can you sell me one?” But I expect hundreds of visitors asking about firewalls, data protection, provisioning, strong authentication, governance, and privileged account management. We can, of course, help with all of those (and a lot more too, by the way). Security is a lot of things. In my opinion most people “shopping” at RSA are here for one or maybe two specific subsets of security but eventually they will have to address most of what’s available…but it’s on your timeframe, not mine.

So that brings me to why I think you should at least stop by the Dell booth regardless of what area of security is your hot button right now.

  • First and foremost, if you have a security need, chances are we have a solution that will help you
  • Second, and why I’m excited to be at RSA this year, is the debut of our technology and strategy that actually ties, previously disconnected areas of security together. It’s called contextual security and is being shown in our booth through Dell’s new Security Analytics Engine.

Think about the traditional way most people do security. You find something that needs security and you go out and shop for a solution to that problem. So you end up with an awesome firewall that keeps the bad guys out. And you have a great provisioning solution that makes sure everyone has the right access. And you have a wonderful access control solution that ensures that remote users and web access are secure. And maybe you’ve even engaged a managed security services company (such as Dell SecureWorks) to watch out for the bad things that might happen. All these solutions are great at what they do, but they rarely draw upon each other’s information or enforcement capabilities to increase the overall security stance. If the firewall says “no” it’s a no, even if the IAM solution says “yes”. And if the web access management solution says “yes” but the managed security services solution says “no” access is still denied. There’s no context.

That’s where the Security Analytics Engine comes in. Think of it as a risk scoreboard, that draws information from a number of sources and can use that information to influence enforcement of policy. In this first iteration of SAE, our Cloud Access Manager (a WAM solution) is the enforcer and it uses information from Dell’s SonicWALL next-gen firewalls to contribute dynamic context – such as location, time, etc.—from which a real-time, adaptive access decision can be made and enforced. Add to that the ability for SAE to use blacklist/whitelist information from Dell SecureWorks and you quickly move security from a static immovable barrier to a dynamic, adaptive, business-enabling asset.

That’s where SAE is today, but looking out six months, a year, eighteen months, and further there is potential for so much more. We could enable a next-generation firewall to be an additional enforcement point. We could integrate with data encryption technologies. We could use the risk scoreboard concept to better control privileged access. And we could even draw upon IAM information to more granularly define policy and ensure that the right people get to the right stuff in the right way in all situations. And what if we could expose an API that would allow you to use SAE with whatever data or enforcement points you choose to integrate with. Now that would be cool.

So if you, like me, are wandering around the expo floor looking for just the right security solution for your situation right now, stop by booth #4132 (we’re right at the front) we’d love to show you what we’ve got … and how they all do and could fit together through the Security Analytics Engine.

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