Monday, April 27, 2009

RSA 2009 Impressions, Part II or The Only Fun RSA Keynote

OK, so people make fun of RSA keynotes as being “content-free”, buzzword-heavy and overall annoying. I did that too. However, this year I had advance knowledge that one keynote will be very fun, insightful and “B.S.-free”!

So, I came a bit earlier and the previous keynoter (not sure who that was) was working hard proving that RSA keynotes suck by droning on and on about nothing. I just couldn’t wait for Philippe’s keynote to start – and then it did and proved even more fun and insightful than I thought. Here is what caught my attention in his keynote:

  • First, “The Inconvenient Truth”: critical data is spread across devices / laptops / phones today; many of such devices are lost every day. Data->gone.
  • Second, vulnerabilities are being a) exploited and b) not fixed (updated Laws research shows no change in half-life of a vulnerability – still at 30 days as 4 years ago)
  • The above two lines should tell everybody (rephrased by me for increased drama): “cloud is not a threat to data governance, you are!”
  • Deploying applications to deal with security problems seems to open more security issues. Thus, enterprise LOST the security battle since it is impossible to secure today's networks and applications. To top it off, business need systems, IT resources faster than ever: and they are impossible to secure even at the slower pace.
  • I have heard the whole “$84 billion to maintain Outlook+Exchange per year” line before, but it still has shock value. That is what people pay for insecure apps that handle valuable data (=email) today.
  • Answer? SaaS! If you sell software and somebody does it in the cloud, you will be replaced. Good bye!
  • Good news: today’s expansion of SaaS is also another chance to “build security in”; we failed this for platforms and applications, now we can [try to] do it for SaaS.
  • Also, SaaS allows for more control over data (analogy: old mainframe model) and for more usable-yet-effective security. Obviously, there are a lot of problems to solve (e.g. browsers with holes, authentication across apps, strict and enforceable SLAs, etc)
  • Example: end to end secure email was attempted since the 80s (with proven 100% failure of adoption rate), but now a big cloud provider (e.g. Gmail) can do it easily.
  • Final word: “in cloud we trust, but it is our job to verify it!

Full keynote video is here (yes, it IS actually worth watching!) and a lot of media coverage is here, here, here ("Cloud: Resistance is futile"), etc.

Enjoy all RSA coverage here.

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Dr Anton Chuvakin