2019 RSA Conference Takeaways

By: Josh Mayfield | 3/14/2019

RSA Conference (RSAC) is a true reflection of the information security industry: the one constant is change. Attendee numbers grow each year, vendors come and go, and the over-arching event theme changes with the times. 2019 was my fifth consecutive RSA Conference and even in those few years, I’ve seen a significant shift in the conference tone, and our industry as a whole.

Ease of Use

A few short years ago, RSAC reflected everything cloud. What is it, what are its advantages and disadvantages and of course, what were the risks? From cloud, conference goers moved into talk about automation, orchestration and threat detection. How could InfoSec practitioners rely on security tools to find and address the overwhelming number of threats out there?

Then came the shift to data. There was, and continues to be, much talk (and a whole lot of FUD) around big data, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Many of us are still trying to sort out how these important data-centric approaches fit with and aide security efforts.

This year, conversations shifted from ‘the what’ of risk to ‘the how.’ And for many, the desire is ease.

There was much less evidence of the-world-is-a-scary-place (think shady hackers in hoodies) and your only hope is dependence upon some cool new widget. Instead, this year, we saw a transition to a call for simplification: reduce complexity to increase security.

Zero Trust Model

One important sub-topic to this year’s conference was zero trust. How can you reduce complexity and improve security using the assumption of zero trust?

Zero trust is the notion there is no trust within your environment across networks, devices, people, applications and, at the center of it all, your data. Data doesn’t trust your device or any other element and conversely, none of the other elements trust the other. At the foundation of zero trust is the assumption that trust is a vulnerability – authentication must take place before trust can be issued.

In my conversations with analysts, Absolute customers, and many other buyers and sellers of security products, the topic of authentication and conditional access came up time and again. Conditional access is a computation that asks questions about worthiness. For example: yes, this user is who he/she says she is. Or, yes, this device is in fact where it should be…

Authentication has its challenges certainly but, in the case of endpoints, you must start with accurate, contextual asset intelligence. You can’t authenticate what you don’t know you have.

Read NIST Cybersecurity Framework: First, See Everything

Asset intelligence is Absolute’s role in this approach; we help orchestrate the zero trust dynamic at the endpoint. Our solution is already embedded in much of the hardware out there today and our platform supports application and security control persistence. Are all of your elements enabled and working? We provide IT with that information quickly and automatically.

Likewise, nearly every RSA vendor also has a role to play in the zero trust approach. Standing on the packed show floor, you got a strong visual of how different vendors approach and provide the authentication that goes to worthiness. Collectively then, you could ask yourself, how could these different tools work together to authenticate access. Most important to the conversations this year at RSAC, was how can IT maximize all of the tools they use to authenticate, secure, and provide confidence (and documentation) that they are all working for the betterment of your organization’s security posture?

RSA is known for bringing together many different perspectives that then drive compelling conversations around the problems we can solve together. This year didn’t disappoint. Effectively solving security issues while also reducing complexity for our IT teams will continue to be a focus in the year to come.

2019 Endpoint Security Trends ReportTo learn more about how to increase your visibility and control over your endpoints and reduce your risk, read the 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report

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