Hot Topics from the RSA 2013 Security Conference

My colleagues and I attended the 2013 RSA Security Conference last week in San Francisco, and with well over 20,000 attendees, RSA was very busy and better attended than in recent years. After the conference I polled my colleagues for their “take” on the event.  

Here is a small part of what we took away from the keynotes and security sessions:

1)      On the topic of Advanced Persistence Threats (APT) – if I had a nickel for every time this term was mentioned, I’d be rich – there is a connection to FDE (Full Disk Encryption) in that Secure Boot is part of the solution to APT’s. See my previous blog for more information on Secure Boot and WinMagic’s demo at RSA.

2)      Big Data. Once again is a recurring theme of the show. In this context, much of the discussion was around the act of analyzing vast amounts of data from multiple sources to create new insights into user behavior. In fact, it is now possible to create new, highly sensitive data, by mining multiple sources of normal routine data. As a result, this aggregated data can cause new privacy and security concerns. For example, in one session called “Big Data Calls for Big Security!” it was questioned if the existing privacy regulations even applied to this created data. It will take years for the lawyers to sort this out.

3)      Embedded Security (an oxymoron perhaps??). While laptops and PC’s are secured to a reasonable level nowadays, I was aghast at some of the stories with respect to security practices for embedded systems.  I think that there is lots of opportunity for encryption and other security improvements in embedded systems such as printers and photo copiers and even ATMs.

4)      Social Networking Attacks Automated. In one session titled “SocialKlepto Corporate Espionage with Fake Social Network Accounts” the researcher actually wrote a program that automated the creation of LinkedIn profiles, with the end result being the attacker could monitor the business activities of his targets.  (I’m turning on all of my privacy settings on LinkedIn.)

5)      Mobility. Of course any conference of security experts not addressing BYOD security would be remiss.  Resistance is futile. Most security experts have given up on attempting barring user-owned smart phones and tablets from the enterprise and are looking for creative ways to protect their information from leaking to or from the devices. I saw some elaborate network based encryption solutions. Of course basic precautions such as ensuring that the password protection and encryption is turned are a good place to start.

This is just a small sampling of the thousands of conversations generated by the conference sessions and keynote speakers. The battle continues to be waged against cybercrime, but this battle will not be won anytime soon.

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