What Infosec could learn from Domino’s…

Infosec tech event 2016

Me, I’m generally a massive June optimist, depending which ‘head’ I’m wearing. The cyclist in me knows by now what kind of form I’m in, and I’m just enjoying ‘getting it all out there’ on the tarmac.

The bit of me that gardens/obsesses has given up on the idea of perfection, and just enjoys watching Mother Nature doing what she’d always planned to do regardless.

But then the tech marketer in me starts thinking about InfoSec, and my optimism starts to give way to something a bit darker.

 

Life is like a pizza

Apologies for the Gump-like analogy: but it seems to me that building a good infosecurity solution is a bit like baking a pizza. Any one vendor typically does only a couple of the key ingredients well. However they all want their name on the lid of the box.
pizza
When you put those vendors in one place, the instinct is to spend more time talking about which ingredients their competition don’t have (…and oh boy, would that make for a soggy pizza!) and of course their own secret sauce. This is a recipe for… confusion: which sums up InfoSec perfectly.

InfoSec of InfobScure?

This year’s show seemed bigger and brasher than ever. Vendor messaging was mostly of the shouty, acronym-strewn, contradictory kind. A lot of it seemed contrived to avoid saying what the vendor actually added to the pizza, presumably out of a fear of disclosing that it was the competition that supplied the anchovies, prosciutto or chilli oil. That feels like an opportunity missed.

It makes you begin to question the purpose of the show (…maybe any modern day tech tradeshow). Who is it actually serving? What’s in it for the visitor? It’s hard to see how anyone could come away with a coherent picture of the industry. Probably, visitors either go there with a solution in mind and just a short list of vendors to interrogate.  Or they’re existing customers of Vendor A, and want to see how they stack up against B and C.

Catwalk

There is of course a narcissistic streak in this (and every other) industry. A large part of the communication is really the industry talking back to itself and the tradeshow then becomes a kind of catwalk. Or maybe a catwalk-meets-recruitment fair, because certainly a lot of folks shift jobs at this time of year.

“A large part of the communication is really the industry talking back to itself”

Is that value for money, or are there better ways to spend discretionary budget? We spoke to several vendors, each with five figure show budgets, who were pretty clear almost no tangible business development would get done.

Was there a theme?

With a bit of work, a couple of trends did stand out. Genuine ‘big data’ analytical solutions, the most powerful ones delivered from the cloud, continue to make headway (and a lot of sense). Many cyber attacks have multiple vectors, and are carried out in slow-mo over extended periods. Utilising massive number crunching, machine-based learning, and analysis over time, detection is not reliant on known attack signatures. There is a genuine crop of new vendors in this space (mostly not represented at the show) as well as some established players like Splunk, IBM Security and SAS.

The other – and maybe more surprising – trend is an innovation renaissance in end-point security. Anti-virus is no longer where it’s at. The new generation is analysing the behaviour of apps and processes, and again often using cloud intelligence to spot and contain zero day threats. SentinelOne and Carbon Black to the fore.

Making shows count…

We’ve spent a little time figuring out how to maximise the business development opportunity at any trade show. In fact there’s a whole blog on it here.

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