Reflections on Infosecurity Europe 2011

This week’s Infosecurity Europe seemed quieter than usual. It was no surprise of course as it bordered on the Easter holiday. But it was a good event, made enjoyable and interesting by a well-designed exhibition hall and the presence of many top CISOs and security personalities. It’s an event that relies far too much, however, on legacy experience rather than innovation. That’s not really good enough. In today’s fast-moving environment, we should be aiming to stretch the boundaries, rather than repeat well-worn debates.

Certainly the education programme could have been more imaginative. It did not really live up the theme of “foresight”. The acoustics in many of the theatres should also have been much better. But such is the power of the brand and the appeal of the subject area, that it was well sponsored and well attended. You could, in fact, learn a lot simply by talking to the people on the stands or in the surrounding avenues and alleyways. As with many exhibitions, the really useful information lurks behind the scenes, rather than being on show. You have to speak to the exhibitors, not just pick up the leaflets and free gifts.   

The most worrying trend was the lack of new solutions. Most products or techniques on display were simply variants of long-standing practices. I saw little that was new. It was good, however, to see a greater emphasis on cloud security issues, though much of the debate centred on compliance, rather than security. (See my next posting for a debate on that subject.) Next year should be better, given the range of new technologies that I know are under development. 

The most pleasing trend was the emergence of solutions aimed at small companies. For years the needs of SMEs have been ignored by vendors. Finally we are seeing products that are cheap and easy to use. Qualys has been a pioneer in this space, justifiably picking up the Best SME Security Solution at the SC Awards. This week Sourcefire also announced a lower cost version of their IPS product with a simpler user interface. These companies are smart, as this is a rapidly growing market that has ignored for far too long.

Qualys has to take the rosette for the best exhibition stand, with plenty of space, expert advice and generous quantities of beer available. Everything was on show, including slick product demonstrations, as well as the opportunity to meet Philippe Courtot, award-winning CEO of the year. Outside the arena, the Portcullis Arms takes the biscuit for continuing to maintain a consistently high standard for networking and entertainment.   

Infosecurity will continue to survive as an established institution. But like all such networks it needs to aim to stay ahead of the herd, rather than following in its wake.