If you go down to Olympia today you’re sure of a big surprise. Why? Well for a start there’s security boffins everywhere with looks of steely determination in their eyes and they want to make you more paranoid than Fox Mulder.
You see, it is that InfoSec time of year again where everyone huddles together and talks about the need for more than firewalls, more than AntiVirus, more than armed bouncers patrolling your PC 24/7 and then you’ll still be told you’re not 100 per cent safe. Happily the whole thing is dressed up with elaborate displays, tonnes of free pens, lashings of PR bunnies and a number of free bars (if you’re a journalist!). So without further ado what were the big boys up to?
Well, if you are Symantec, McAfee, Microsoft or CA – to be honest – not a lot. All these guys have just recently announced products: Norton AntiSpyware, McAfee AntiSpyware, Microsoft AntiSpyware and Pest Patrol and they seemed content to use the event just to show them off. CA was determined to sell me on the “unbundled” nature of its security products (ie, you can now buy applications separately rather than in one great, unwieldy lump) but none of this was really rocking my world.
Still, as you can probably guess the theme of the show was already building: Spyware. Strictly speaking this is the stuff that self installs on your computer and gathers and reports information about you (from surfing habits to more serious things like credit card details) for unscrupulous third parties. You’ve probably noticed it more frequently in the form of unrequested advertising, repeating pop-up ads, random toolbar installations and the hijacking of your browser homepage. It gets just about everyone at some point (Riyad wrote a nice piece on it here back in October) and it can be a pain in the derriere to get rid of.
On a slightly different track (and possibly medication), however, was RSA who was quite literally jumping up and down on one of its own products. I grabbed a word with Tim Pickard, RSA’s Area VP, who explained it was celebrating the revised rugged version of its popular SecurID product (below). Apparently the new SecurID (which is used in two factor authentication systems and uses a dynamically changing password) can now survive being submerged in water (a terrified Fighting Fish surrounded by blinking SecurIDs was testament to that - you can just make out the fish bowl) and being “driven over by a monster truck” (there being no monster truck on show, which explained the jumping). “They’re out now!” Pickard told me while a busty RSA employee continued to hop around behind him.
Pickard also told me it was revising its Channel Partner Programme for the show with a structured reward system offering higher rebates, additional training and investment in its resellers. Interested parties can check out its new RSA SecurWorld Partner Portal via its website for a detailed breakdown of who is entitled to what.
Over at Sophos it was all pretty quiet. The antivirus software developer was hyping up its new partnership with First 4 Internet which sees the content manager integrating Sophos’ PureMessage anti-spam and anti-virus product into its mail network, but quite frankly if you are not a First 4 Internet customer who cares?
Funnily enough, it was only when I moved onto one of the smaller guys that the best innovation was being unveiled….