RSA Conference 2013: Security Intelligence

The RSA Conference 2013 kicked off this morning with a Queen cover group rocking We Are The Champions, RSA's theme for the conference.  Awesome way to start the day!  Art Coviello, the Executive Chairman of RSA, then delivered his customary opening keynote.  He talked about the meaning of his theme, that the security community are champions, and the progress we've made in the face of very significant threats.  There are still many challenges, but he's confident we can keep pace and eventually will overcome the advisories.  He talked at length about one of the keys of that transformation, "intelligent security."  Specifically, he is looking at big data to create the intelligence we need to advance our cyber risk management capabilities.  Art argued that only when we can properly analysis the petabytes of data the world is accumulating will we have the intelligence needed to discover and perhaps prevent new attacks.  He pointed out we are "at the dawn of big data." The field has fascinating possibilities -- and dangers -- and it will be very exciting to be part of its evolution.

Beyond the technical aspects of the future of security, I was glad to hear Art make some frank observations about the trend lately for both industry and government to exaggerate or misrepresent the global cyber threat.  For example, the U.S. Government has taken to using the term "digital Pearl Harbor" to suggest a catastrophic attack on U.S. infrastructure is imminent.  He argued that not only is that highly unlikely in the near term, dire warnings like that are actually counterproductive.  The true threat right now: the smaller but disruptive attacks, such as the attack the banking industry recently experienced, that interfere with daily life.  Not only do those attacks erode public confidence in both public and commercial entities, they are the training ground for bigger and better attacks which someday may lead to a true catastrophic attack. In other words, by focusing attention away from the current activity with self-serving exaggeration, we are actually allowing the real doomsday attack to develop unhindered.  Art made his case well, I hope others will lend their voice in helping to scale back the hype that is damaging both security and the credibility of the defenders.

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