Perimeter
2/24/2012
09:58 AM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Don't Be Fooled By Buzzwords, Flash, And Empty Promises

Heading to San Francisco for RSA, BSides and AGC? Make sure you know how to navigate the vendor gauntlet

Click here for more articles.

Next week is going to be a busy one in San Francisco. Three conferences, America’s Growth Capital’s 2012 event, Security BSides San Francisco, and the RSA Security Conference are all next week and there will certainly be no shortage of security monitoring vendors clamoring to entice you with their technological cures for what ails your organization’s pain.

Unfortunately, there will be a handful of buzzwords to wade through and you need to be prepared to ask the right questions to understand their actual meaning. Here are some of the words to look out for while walking around the events, talking to vendors, or sitting through a presentation:

1) Next-Generation – what makes the product a "next generation" solution? Ask the vendor to clarify the product’s evolution from its previous generational state in addition to the iterative steps taken to get there (a.k.a the roadmap). Also, if the product is positioned as next-generation based on its superiority over a competing solution, make the vendor prove it. Ask for some customer references that have evaluated both solutions (without the vendor on the phone) and see if the customer can explain what makes vendor "A" more next-generation than vendor "B."

2) Big Data – has the vendor simply slapped the term "big data" onto marketing materials because their product can consume, correlate, and present lots of data? Ask the vendor how their product compares to an analytics platform that leverages big data technologies/capabilities that have been vetted by organizations with REAL big data problems. If they try to tell you that Hadoop-based or similar analytics platforms aren’t scalable, couldn’t possibly do the same job or that their flat file format works better, ask them to prove it with statistical and comparative evidence.

3) Intelligent – what makes it intelligent? Can it stop attackers, do your taxes, and make waffles? What makes this release more intelligent than previous versions? Is it simply that the product now integrates with five more third-party products than it did this time last year? Are you now able to compare the offending IP address or host to a public blacklist? Is the workflow that makes it intelligent? "Intelligent" is one of those terms that marketing people likely thought sounded less pretentious than "next-generation," but still conveyed how much better.

The ultimate question that you must ask all security monitoring vendors at conferences like these is “what makes your product more intelligent/advanced/capable than ‘xyz company’s’ product?” If the representative can’t explain it to you without drawing on buzzwords and non-committal fluff, ask for a follow-up conversation with a technical resource, ideally the CTO or lead architect, when you return to the office. If you notice the person on booth-duty leaning into a pitch, don’t be afraid to stop them and challenge what they’re saying with some questions of your own. After all, you’re there to learn about the product/service on your terms, not theirs.

P.S. For additional points, ask the person you are talking with to explain what exactly their product does in 15 words or less (something that will likely be more fun for you than for the vendor trying to explain).

Andrew Hay is senior analyst with 451 Research's Enterprise Security Practice (ESP) and is an author of three network security books. Follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/andrewsmhay

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
MS8699
50%
50%
MS8699,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/28/2012 | 4:11:27 AM
re: Don't Be Fooled By Buzzwords, Flash, And Empty Promises
RSA Security Conference are all next week and there will certainly be
no shortage of security monitoring vendors clamoring to entice you with
their technological cures for what ails your organizationGÇÖs pain.-á
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-3304
Published: 2014-10-30
Directory traversal vulnerability in Dell EqualLogic PS4000 with firmware 6.0 allows remote attackers to read arbitrary files via a .. (dot dot) in the default URI.

CVE-2013-7409
Published: 2014-10-30
Buffer overflow in ALLPlayer 5.6.2 through 5.8.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) and possibly execute arbitrary code via a long string in a .m3u (playlist) file.

CVE-2014-3446
Published: 2014-10-30
SQL injection vulnerability in wcm/system/pages/admin/getnode.aspx in BSS Continuity CMS 4.2.22640.0 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the nodeid parameter.

CVE-2014-3584
Published: 2014-10-30
The SamlHeaderInHandler in Apache CXF before 2.6.11, 2.7.x before 2.7.8, and 3.0.x before 3.0.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (infinite loop) via a crafted SAML token in the authorization header of a request to a JAX-RS service.

CVE-2014-3623
Published: 2014-10-30
Apache WSS4J before 1.6.17 and 2.x before 2.0.2, as used in Apache CXF 2.7.x before 2.7.13 and 3.0.x before 3.0.2, when using TransportBinding, does properly enforce the SAML SubjectConfirmation method security semantics, which allows remote attackers to conduct spoofing attacks via unspecified vect...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.