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PCI-related Observations from RSA 2013

As a frequent attendee of the US RSA Conference in the past, this year I had the opportunity to work in the Cisco booth on the exhibition floor. This year’s RSA event was very busy, it seemed like there was a continuous flow of people and energy across the show floor. I had the pleasure of staffing Cisco’s Compliance Solution demonstration where we test people’s knowledge of PCI compliance. This is one of my favorite demos/stations to operate because it rewards people for their hard learned knowledge and skill on the topic with a prize instead of the normal random drawing (if you get the highest score in the shortest amount of time, you’re the winner!). I was surprised by the number of attendees that did not want to take our quiz. Was it a fear of being put on the spot? Or were they just not very knowledgeable about PCI? I consider the RSA conference as a security minded conference and thought a solid business driver like PCI Compliance would be front and center for many security professionals that often have to justify security purchases. Further, given the proliferation of data breaches across all industry segments, this should be a top of mind topic. Many industries outside of retail accept credit cards for payment of services and products (e.g., hospital co-pays, DMV fees, city permits, Insurance payments, hotels, transit stations) so when all three days of the quiz were won by retailers I was a bit surprised. I would have expected a few security vendors or professionals to have won at least one day! Read More »

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RSA 2013: That’s a Wrap

RSA 2013 ends and I both miss it and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s over. Let me explain. As a security guy, it’s nice to be around other security like-minded people.  We all speak the language. You needn’t really justify why you are worried about things most people have never heard of. It’s exciting to see so many people try so many different things, be it startups, big companies, or inspired individuals. It’s great to see government employees, corporate executives, and pony-tailed security geeks all talking to one another.  In a slightly strange way, it’s therapeutic.

That said, RSA is an incredibly intense week, and this year’s conference was no exception. In four-and-a-half full days (and this is just my schedule), I had:

  • Eight customer meetings
  • Eight dinners (working out to 1.78 dinners per day.)
  • Four press interviews: two on-record, one background, 1 live videocast via Google+
  • Four bizdev/company review meetings
  • Two panels
  • Two  analyst interviews
  • Two partner meetings
  • One customer breakfast talk along with with Chris Young

And this doesn’t include the countless run-ins with friends, a quick word here or there, and emails that all have to be managed along the way. In some respects, you don’t get enough time with really good friends (if there really is such a thing as enough time for such people in our lives), and in the end, it’s a huge blur from meeting to meeting.

I posed a question in my blog earlier this year: Are we making progress in cyber security? I say yes, yet not nearly enough, and now I am thinking hard about how to change it before RSA 2014.

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Live from RSA: John N. Stewart

The RSA Conference is expected to be bigger and better than ever this year—more booths, more vendors, more technical sessions and keynotes.

But I have to ask the question: “Are we as IT practitioners better off now than we were 4 or 5 years ago?” There are a lot of people at the show who worry that the old approaches aren’t working and next generation solutions have not clearly come into focus. I do think, however, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

Join me for a live broadcast from the RSA show floor on Wednesday, February 27 at 10:30 AM PT as I discuss what I’m seeing at the RSA conference and what it means for the IT Security industry. We’ll be taking your questions live via Twitter and Google Hangouts.  Read More »

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RSA Conference: T-Minus 30 Days and Counting

A month from now, thousands of cyber security friends, colleagues, professionals, hackers, defenders, sellers, buyers, old timers, and newbies will descend on San Francisco for the 2013 RSA Conference. We will challenge one another about what has changed, create new topics and new words to describe the previously indefinable, scare the heck out of each another, and ask the same questions…often: “What’s changed in the last year? Is it better? Is it worse? Is it new?”

“Security in Knowledge” is an apt theme for this year’s RSA. It resonates with me, given my very strong opinions that no company can effectively manage cyber security alone, either people-wise or data- and information-wise. Can any organization analyze 13 billion web requests per day? 150 million endpoints? A daily deluge of 75  terabytes of incoming data? You can’t cope with that yourself. We need to move to crowd-sourcing security, creating security knowledge, and ultimately increasing effectiveness rather than watching the ship continue to take on water at intermittently slowed rates.  Read More »

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