Attending RSA this year was one of the perks of working in the Networking and Security industry.  Mingling with tens of thousands of people who all have one objective in mind, being secure, staying secure, or selling secure, whilst online, immerses one in the leading (and bleeding) edge of what we ‘good guys’ are doing to try to keep one step ahead of the ‘bad guys’.

However, the admission from many I spoke to over a well-earned beer or listened to in the seminars was that it is no longer possible to be ahead of the people who are out to steal your data, disrupt your company or use your computing resources to covertly mine currency, you now just need to not be ‘at the back when running from the bear’ – yes, the old joke is now making the rounds again, revamped, refreshed and re-purposed;

 

A wild and obviously angry bear is heading towards a group of hikers, who start to run away, all apart form one of the party who stops to remove their heavy walking boots and replace them with running shoes.   As the bear approaches the newly-shod hiker, one of the frightened fellow hikers asks why, as the bear gets closer, he stopped to change shoes, as a head start would have helped him get further from the bear.  “I don’t have to outrun the bear”, says the hiker, “I only have to outrun you”

 

The moral of the story here in the context in which I was told it is an obvious one; You don’t have to outrun the bear, just outrun the next guy…

There will come a time when you or your business are targeted, and when that times comes, you will need to have in place everything that you can to mitigate the damage that is done, and be in a position to recover from the impact. But in the mean-time, make your security posture better than the next guys, more robust than you think you need, and you and your business must present the smallest attackable exposed ‘surface’ to the onslaught.

At last week’s RSA the city block that is the Moscone Centre and Marriott Marquee hotel were configured into three huge halls, filled on each day with over 35,000 visitors, all talking security to the assembled masses of solution-providing companies, consumers and commentary-making copywriters.  According to my internet-of-things-enabled smartwatch in the 18 MILES of walking that I did to and from my hotel but mostly whilst in the halls of the show, my enforced exercise regime took me past long-established companies like IBM, Microsoft and Cisco utilising their marketing and research-and-development dollar to shout from their booths, as well as start-up companies who have taken simple ideas and created innovative products and solutions, and others with the most advanced ideas of how Artificial Intelligence will be the saviour we seek, and every flavour of company in between, all declaring that they had the answer, they know what is needed to win the cyberwar, as some put it.

My job was to try to make sense of it, and to try to determine what was hype, what was reality, and much more importantly, what was useful.

Once the jet-lag took hold, and my tolerance of the fluffy preamble correspondingly faded away, the information that I uncovered from my numerous conversations allowed me to get to the meat of each offering; what does it do? why do you think that is useful? what is its value?

Often the simple things are the best, and over the years Axial has brought a number of simple concepts to market that have proved to have tremendous value to our customers; the products and solutions I discovered hidden in the depths of the RSA show this year will provide a similar volume of fuel for our future – all centred in the security market (and at RSA what else would you expect?) with all solutions neatly fitting within the ecosystem of the solutions that Axial has in its portfolio.

It is comforting to see that the decision I took when I first held the role of MD at Axial Systems to ensure that our security and networking practices were linked and cross-fertilised has been adopted by many of our suppliers; the need to see the data in motion, control its path, examine its contents and verify its pedigree is at the forefront of many minds in the industry.  Now coupling this with the security of data at rest as well as in motion, whether within the confines of a laptop hard drive or in the cloud,  is where security and GDPR-sensitive companies are looking, and where Axial is ideally and purposefully positioned.

I am pursuing commercial conversations with a number of prospective suppliers from this year’s RSA show, all of whom will add vital visibility, security and integrity to that which Axial can offer our customers.  Securing UK Plc, one company at a time.