IBM's Watson (natural language processing, deduction, AI, inference and statistical modeling all served by a massively parallel POWER7 array of computers with a total of 2880 processors with 15TB RAM) beat the greatest Jeopardy players in three rounds over the past 3 days — and the matches weren't even close. Watson has shocked us, and now it's time to think: What's in it for the security professional?
The connection is easy to see. The complexity, amount of unstructured background information, and the real-time need to make decisions.
Forrester predicts that the same levels of Watson's sophistication will appear in pattern recognition in fraud management and data protection. If Watson can answer a Jeopardy riddle in real time, it will certainly be able to find patterns of data loss, clustering security incidents, and events, and find root causes of them. Mitigation and/or removal of those root causes will be easy, compared to identifying them . . .
For the second year in a row, I have the honor of hosting our Security Forum EMEA in London, March 17th - 18th. This is Forrester's 5th annual Security Forum in Europe, and each year brings a larger, more influential audience and more exciting Forrester and industry keynotes. The theme of this year's event builds on our fall event in Boston - Building The High-Performance Security Organization. It would have been easy to focus the event on one of the myriad of threats and challenges facing security and risk (S&R) professionals today — from the emergence of advanced persistent threats to the security and risk implications of cloud services, social technologies and consumer devices in the workplace — but the real challenge for S&R professionals is not in the specific response to today's threats. It's building the oversight and governance capabilities, repeatable processes, and resilient architectures that deal with today's threats but can also reliably predict, analyze, mitigate, and respond to tomorrow's threats and new business demands. For many of us in security, we are mired in day-to-day operational responsibilities — or as some of us like to call it, the Hamster Wheel Of Hell.
Quest is making aggressive moves to extend into the heterogeneous, non-Microsoft-centric land of identity and access management. After acquiring Voelcker Informatik for provisioning, Quest just announced the acquisition of e-DMZ, an enterprise-class, high-performance PIM appliance vendor. Novell (now Attachmate) acquired host access control specialist Fortefi, Oracle bought Passlogix (vGO-SAM), CA extended Access Control, and IBM integrated Encentuate's eSSO solution with ITIM as a service offering to manage privileged access. The remaining major PIM players like Cyber-Ark, Lieberman, and BeyondTrust will now face added client RFP scrutiny and price pressures from the competition. Forrester expects that new IAM entrants like Symantec/VeriSign, NetIQ (to compete with arch-rival Quest), or MSSPs will look at acquiring the remaining above vendors.
Details have been elusive thus far, but reports indicate that multiple breaches occurred, resulting in “suspicious files” on the company’s servers. A statement released by Nasdaq assures us that its trading systems and customer data were not compromised, and those in the know tend to agree that infiltrating the trading systems would be substantially more difficult than breaking into the web environment and leaving a few files behind. As the investigation continues, hopefully we'll learn more, but what can we take away from this story so far?
The list of attractive hacker targets continues to grow. Whoever perpetrated this breach chose not to go after traditionally lucrative targets like customer/employee data or a more difficult and devastating attempt to dismantle one of the world’s biggest exchanges. Instead the target was a more accessible set of extremely sensitive corporate data – details about mergers, acquisitions, dividends, and earnings. Without much sophistication, criminals could use this information to execute rather impressive “insider trading” transactions or simply find an outlet like WikiLeaks for some of the more embarrassing tidbits.
Mobile authentication is nothing new. SiteMinder, a prominent web access management tool, has been able to handle mobile browsers and sessions for at least 7-8 years. Some users complained of WAP and its limitations, but most could access information and log in to websites with minimal issues.
WAP is gone and it is now replaced by a multitude of devices: tablets, PDAs, smartphones, etc. With the proliferation of Splinternet, we are witnessing not only a boom of content, but also the need to limit access to sensitive applications and data not only from the device but also on the device. Authentication, authorization, and data protection challenges multiply as companies embrace the post-PC tablets, etc.
What do we see people asking about? From the enterprise security perspective, the biggest challenges seems to be protecting the data on the device, performing a remote wipe on a lost or stolen piece of equipment, and making sure corporate information is separated clearly from any private data. Writing mobile applications or designing mobile-capable and still rich, interactive web pages is no easy task either. Companies also wonder about how to deliver and (de)provision applications quickly and securely.
What do we see companies do? Sandboxing corporate data and mandating the use of remotely wipeable devices is the first step. Storing certificates and using transaction signature mobile authenticators to defend against stolen or compromised text messages with one-time passwords is a logical follow-on.
This week we published the first in a series of reports I'll be writing to help clients calculate the return on investment of GRC technologies. This report, How To Measure The ROI Of A GRC Platform, outlines the key factors and suggested metrics to show what GRC can do for your organization.
Of course, my first recommendation is to exhaust your arsenal of arguments before falling back into ROI terrain. GRC is about improving oversight, strengthening controls, and finding ways for the business to succeed within the boundaries of risk tolerance. But these board-level issues can quickly give way to questions of costs and savings... so it's good to be prepared.
The considerations for costs (software, hardware, maintenance, implementation, etc.) are not much different than other large IT projects, nor are the associated risks (requirements, scope, adoption, integration, etc.). What's tough is articulating the benefits. The report offers much more detail, but generally the success factors of a GRC implementation fall into three categories. These are:
Efficiency, which includes product and process consolidation as well as facilitation of processes such as policy development and distribution, risk and control assessments, incident/issue management, data/report aggregation.
Risk reduction, which includes decreases in audit and examination findings, reduction in regulatory fines, faster remediation of issues, and the secondary benefits of these improvements, such as deceased cost of capital and lower insurance costs.
On the heels of Forrester's GRC Market Overview last month, this week we published my Governance, Risk, And Compliance Predictions: 2011 And Beyond report. Based on our research with GRC vendors, buyers, and users, this paper highlights the aggressive regulatory environment and greater attention to risk management as drivers for change. Specifically, here is a brief summary of the top five trends we will see next year:
Increasing vendor competition will continue to bring more choices and more confusion. Strong market growth will encourage more technology and service vendors to get into the market, which means the fragmentation (which I've discussed previously) and confusion will continue.
It will come as little surprise to most of you that the overall GRC market is still saturated with relatively small vendors, many of which continue to struggle to maintain their market niches. At the same time, a handful of market leaders (notably BWise, IBM/OpenPages, MetricStream, RSA/Archer, and Thomson Reuters/Paisley) continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, while several large competitors (including Oracle, SAP, SAS, Software AG, and Wolters Kluwer) put more and more pressure on the market all the time.
It's been interesting to watch these vendors that competed head-to-head regularly for SOX compliance deals now drifting further apart . . . some focusing more on risk management and analytics, some strengthening their compliance and content offerings, some building deeper integration with IT systems, and others building bridges into audit departments. The current environment of increased government oversight and regulation — and in some cases, reform of whole industries — worldwide promises to bring a strong resurgence to the GRC platform market overall, which means increased competition both from veteran vendors and newcomers alike.
It's that time of year when we begin planning our spring Forums. Our Security & Risk Forum EMEA will take place in London, March 17th and 18th. Planning and content creation for that Forum is already well underway and we're looking forward to another great event. But I also wanted to highlight our spring IT Forum. Mark your calendars for May 25-27 in Las Vegas and June 8-10 in Barcelona. Not only is there a dedicated track for Security and Risk professionals at IT Forum but there is an opportunity for Security & Risk pros to learn about broad IT challenges and trends. I believe this is critical because in order for security organizations to become much more proactive and less reactive, they have to understand what's happening across IT and not just narrowly within security. We need to be ready for the next major business or IT shift before it happens.
As technology becomes more accessible through mediums beyond IT's control, you have but one choice: Get proactive by empowering employees, or swim against the current. Successful BT leaders will react not by blocking access but by lending their expertise to increase the chances of technology success and empowering the users to solve customer and business problems. This year's IT Forum will provide a blueprint for reaping the benefits of your empowered organization — complete with case studies, methodologies, and step-by-step advice tailored to each IT role.
In a rather unsurprising move, Oracle acquired its longtime OEM partner of eSSO solutions, Passlogix. The sale has closed after a relatively long courtship – the eSSO market has been consolidating for a long time: Novell’s OEM agreement with ActivIdentity, IBM’s acquisition of Encentuate all signal IAM stack consolidation. Beyond the obvious — 1) eSSO integration with Oracle Access Manager and Oracle Adaptive Access Manager to integrate with web single sign on, 2) a multitude of second factor and adaptive authentication mechanisms using v-GO User Access Manager, and 3) using v-GO SSO’s screenscraping technology to create Oracle Identity Manager connectors to arcane, no-CLI systems — large tasks remain for Oracle: a) providing access management for mobile devices and b) getting to be a credible player in Privileged User Management (where Passlogix’s v-GO Shared Accounts Manager is a second-tier player).