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Analysts: Government, new products get top billing

Analysts: Government, new products get top billing

Cybersecurity and the protection of critical computer infrastructure have become a hot topic at trade shows, with vendors and in the halls of Congress since September 11, with new initiatives, legislation, partnerships and products springing up almost weekly. The RSA Conference 2002 security show, to be held February 18 to February 22 in California, doesn't figure to be any different.

"The government having its own track at a conference like RSA is a good thing," according to Laura Koetzle, associate analyst at Forrester Research Inc. "There certainly is a lot of movement and more attention being paid to (cybersecurity) than usual."

The strong presence of government officials should give members of the security industry a good opportunity to discuss network security policy and legislation, Koetzle said.

Often, "there's a lot of hysterical handwaving about cybercrime," she said, noting that such an opportunity for discussion could add to the level of discourse about the issue.

Peter Lindstrom, senior security strategies analyst with the Hurwitz Group Inc., is not sure, however, that increased government attention to cybersecurity issues will be useful.

"It's still too early to tell" whether government action about computer security will have any meaningful impact, he said. "I think they've got their work cut out for them."

Increased attention to computer security issues is not all good, though, Lindstrom said. Some companies may expect that, given the current climate, security is a market in which they can turn a quick profit, he said.

These companies "don't know what they're in for," he said. "It takes a heck of a lot more than 9/11" to make a good security product and company, he added.

Nonetheless, both Lindstrom and Koetzle expect "a ton of product announcements," in Koetzle's words.

Some announcements and keynotes already scheduled for RSA 2002 include:

- The conference will kick off with a keynote speech by Presidential Advisor on Cyberspace Security Richard Clarke on Feb. 19.

- Tumbleweed Communications Corp. will introduce on Tuesday its Homeland Security suite, a specially priced software bundle aimed at agencies, both public and private, that have critical infrastructure to protect.

- The Liberty Alliance, the alternative to Microsoft Corp.'s Passport Web authentication system being pushed by Sun Microsystems Inc., will announce new members at a press conference to be held Tuesday.

- Pentasafe Security Technologies Inc. will unveil a security index designed to help measure the overall status of computer security on Feb. 19.

Another pending announcement concerns an insurance company and a security company teaming to offer security audits, according to Koetzle, though she declined to reveal what companies were involved. The deal will see the security company auditing clients' networks and systems for security, which will in turn help the insurance company gauge what kind of potential risk the client is and set rates accordingly, she said.

"Typically there hasn't been a recognized program of how the insurance companies figure out what kind of risk you are," Koetzle said. "As companies become more aware ... of the need for insurance against this kind of risk ... this will be a lucrative play."

The deal could also indirectly lead to software development companies writing more secure code, she said, since future sales could hinge on insurance company rates fluctuating depending on the security of the products used by clients.

Other areas that could get attention at the show include new intrusion-detection systems and Web services, according to Lindstrom, and managed security services, according to Koeztle.

Prior to many industry tradeshows, a theme or set of trends, along with some major announcements, usually become apparent to industry watchers. Though the RSA Conference kicks off Monday, there seems as yet to be no event, technology or announcement which can be said to define the show, according to the analysts.

"I certainly haven't heard wind of any" major announcements, Koetzle said.


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