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Thoughts from the RSA Cyber Security Conference 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
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David Vercoutere and Howard Smith, First Analysis


If a top-of-mind objective of security buyers is to consolidate and simplify a complex and prolific array of solutions, then the vast number of vendors vying for their attention at the marquee annual cyber security conference in San Francisco on March 4-8 is not making their task any easier. High entrepreneurial energy and ample private capital, set against the backdrop of a growing market and generous valuations, fueled a mind-numbing number of start-ups on the show floor. These younger and smaller companies, together with more established players, are looking to address a sophisticated threat landscape while confronting the security challenges of evolving network infrastructures driven by digital transformation initiatives, such as the ongoing adoption of cloud technology and DevOps methodologies. Our biggest takeaway from the RSA Cyber Security Conference is that the overall security market remains incredibly vibrant with myriad opportunities.

However, after surveying the landscape, we feel there are a few themes that stood out this year and are likely to receive increasing customer attention and budget allocation.

Harden (super)user access. The proliferation of cloud-based services, greater use of mobile devices for increasingly sensitive applications and, by extension, data, and automated machines for gathering and processing significant and sensitive data (i.e., Internet of Things devices) have resulted in both more ephemeral networks and greater security risks. At the show, we saw more emphasis on solutions that provide proper authentication mechanisms imperative to ensure appropriate authorization levels. Within the broader umbrella of secure access, as evidenced by the large proportion of breaches rooted in abuse of privileged credentials, locking down privileged access is particularly desirable as those with privileged access are able to make changes to the network or access the most sensitive data (often correlating to those who have administrative privileges).

Secure the continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. The growing adoption of DevOps practices to speed up critical application development projects is driving the need to integrate security measures in the development cycle. This trend has broad ramifications for both how security technology is consumed and who is responsible for purchasing decisions--the information technology department or the R&D group. While integrated DevOps security is still in its early stages, we believe it is a highly intriguing market opportunity with approaches such as securing application secrets (e.g., SSH keys, tokens, certificates) and embedded vulnerability analysis for container technologies such as Kubernetes and Docker. Many companies at the RSA show showcased their wares on this front, and we think it is an accelerating trend.

Automate remediation tasks. While automation efforts have been continuous since the industry blossomed in the mid-1990s, advances on this front are accelerating. There is a massive increase in the amount of security data (threat intelligence) being gathered, in part enabled by growing and more cost-efficient computing power helped by cloud-delivered scale. Against this backdrop are advances in machine learning and the ongoing skilled-personnel shortage to manage security incidents. As a result, we seem to have reached an inflection point in regard to buyers’ receptivity to technologies that automate and prioritize greater parts of security analysts’ workloads, and we have seen some of the larger vendors putting their weight behind such technology with high-profile acquisitions.

First Analysis has a nearly 40-year record of serving emerging growth companies, established industry leaders, and institutional investors in its focused areas of domain expertise, both through its venture capital investments and through First Analysis Securities Corp. (FASC), a registered broker/dealer with FINRA and member SIPC that provides investment banking services and institutional equity research.

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