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RSA 2014 Takes Place In The Shadow Of NSA Scandal
Holmes Report
Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry

RSA 2014 Takes Place In The Shadow Of NSA Scandal

Holmes Report

By Elinor Mills I was asked to give my perspective on what the trends at RSA Conference (held last week in San Francisco) portend for marketing and communications the rest of the year. You may not like what I have to say, because you’ve heard it before, well some of it. Big Data, BYOD and cloud -- not necessarily in that order -- are considered bygone buzzwords in many circles but they fundamentally represent the direction the security industry is going. It’s a version of Moore’s Law, but related to people sharing information not computers processing power. And all have security considerations that RSA vendors are more than happy to address. [caption id="attachment_1832" align="alignright" width="150"]Elinor Mills Elinor Mills[/caption] There were tons of mobile security products and services -- to keep hackers out and data in and CIOs happy. People in general understand the risks with desktop computers, but they don’t realize that the corporate data they just looked at on their iPhone could be at risk. A survey conducted this week by mobile app security provider Netskope found that 60% of the RSA attendees are either unaware of their companies' cloud apps policies or think they don't exist. We aren’t going to stop bringing phones to work and using Gmail on them when Outlook is down. Making it easy for people to use their mobile devices the way they want without putting their employers at risk is going to be a basic requirement for all mobile-related software and services going forward. Companies are running for the cloud so fast that I almost feel sorry for the legacy software getting left behind like last night’s cheese pizza. A year ago NSA surveillance revelations had some people worried that geopolitical privacy concerns would cast a pall on the cloud provider industry. Those concerns have been washed away, but companies are still addressing the nasty data breach problem that plagues corporate America (and the government, for that matter). In a panel entitled “Is the Cloud Really More Secure Than On-Premise,” Google and Microsoft security execs didn’t assume competitive stances, as many would have assumed. They agreed -- and security gadfly Bruce Schneier joined the chorus -- that the cloud is safe and major cloud providers offer greater security than individual organizations do. RSA3   Although the NSA surveillance scandal didn’t kill the cloud, it did end up shaking up the RSA Conference this year. Investigative reporter Joe Menn of Reuters reported late last year that the NSA paid RSA, the security division of EMC, to put a back door in its crypto. The controversy sparked a boycott of RSA by some prominent speakers, the creation of a counter-conference, dubbed TrustyCon, and protests outside the RSA Conference this week. The NSA scandal was THE news of the show, and will continue to be a major story for years to come. Which brings me to big data. The problem -- or opportunity, depending on how you want to look at it -- of figuring out how to analyze and make use of all the data devices and applications are gathering from all of our touchpoints to the Internet is an underlying theme at the RSA Conference this year. So much so, that the organizers added a new “Analysis and Forensics” track. This covers everything from following the crumbs of hackers who have stolen data to using real-time monitoring and analysis of data to keep corporations alert to attacks. It will be interesting to see how big TrustyCon is a year from now as I doubt the NSA leaks are over. But it’s a given that cloud and mobile will continue to dominate the security landscape for the foreseeable future, and that will only ensure that big data gets even bigger. Elinor Mills is director of content and media strategy at Bateman Group, based in San Francisco. 
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