RSA Conference: Threats, Breaches, Theft, Oh My!

Fear. The fear of data hacks, the fear of what to do with all that data, and the fear of data itself seems to be pervasive today, occupying the hearts and minds of IT operations managers and network owners. And it does not seem to matter if the infrastructure is public or private. No one is immune to this fear since no one is immune to the costs of data – having it, sharing it, keeping it, or losing it. This is why the RSA Conference is so successful year after year, attracting over 50,000 people from all over the globe which, according to organizers, is more than any other security conference out there. It seems fear can be overcome by ‘strength in numbers’.

The conference that took place March 4-8 in San Francisco offered hope in the face of all this uncertainty with answers to some very tough and hard-hitting questions – questions like “How do I secure my data?”, “What do I do with all this data to make it meaningful?”, “Does any of it matter?” The good news is there are answers to those questions: detect intrusion, prevent hacks, protect data, and use data intelligently. Let me come back to that idea of using ‘data intelligently’ shortly.

In the meantime, at RSA, the topics ranged from Application Security & DevSecOps to Mobile Security. But, mobile-anything seemed like yesterday’s news in contrast to the exciting new and somewhat titillating conversations around Blockchain & Applied Crypto. They were titillating because these areas are unchartered territory for so many: new, fascinating, dangerous, scary. What is ‘decentralized identity’ anyway? With ease and urgency, presenters talked about cryptocurrency, tokenization, and homomorphic encryption, along with the implications of quantum computing on encryption. Needless to say, things got intense.

Then, less intimidating but equally cool were discussions around Cloud & Virtualization and how cloud has become central to enabling and safeguarding business. Businesses can overcome the unavoidable disruption using advanced automation, processing, and intelligence technologies.

Then, on top of that, there is the cabinet of curiosities of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence. At the conference, we all collectively wondered where AI is going to take us in the future and whether or not we lose the human element in all of this. It was a bit ironic.

All of this under the watchful eye of “Policy” and “Governance”. Those sound scary enough, come to think of it.

The paradigm shift is happening and organizations need to be ready for it. So, one particularly interesting topic, “Analytics and Intelligence”, challenged participants to think about their response to exactly that. One speaker said, “Too much visibility without context is unmanageable” and “too many alerts without analysis is burdensome.” Data overload or alert overload – which is worse?

The trick to data acquisition and actually winning customer loyalties with your Big Data and Machine Learning investments comes down to a few questions. You must ask yourself, “What is the specific question we need to answer?”, “Which data variables are key to answering this question?”, “How can I get the most granular and accurate data for that specific variable?” After all, analytics and gaining intelligence is difficult without the right data to drive it, not to mention clean data. After all, as the old adage goes, “Garbage in, garbage out”.
And, there is no need to fear if we have the right solutions in place to prepare, prevent, and plan. Fortunately, this is Accedian’s sandbox and well worth checking out if you missed our demo at RSA. Have a look at Accedian’s SkyLIGHT PVX, a unified network and application performance management solution to assure application performance and real end-user experience in virtualized enterprise networks. And have no fear.