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Vulnerabilities / Threats

2/16/2011
06:55 PM
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RSA: HP Proposes Holistic Security

Following three recent security acquisitions, HP sees a chance to focus the enterprise security discussion on risk management.

At the RSA Conference on Wednesday in San Francisco, Calif., Bill Veghte, EVP of HP's software division, declared that the traditional security model must change.

"The security model that we've built, that we've gown up with over the past 15 to 20 years, has to evolve," said Veghte in his keynote presentation.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that HP might have some ideas about how to improve enterprise security. In 2010, HP completed the acquisitions of three security companies -- ArcSight, Fortify Software, and TippingPoint (via 3Com) -- and has been wrestling with the task of unifying its security portfolio under a cohesive vision.

Veghte elaborated on that vision in a meeting prior to his keynote address. "It's all about risk," said Veghte. "Security is a characterization of risk."

Citing the increasing importance of mobility, virtualization, and cloud computing in large companies, trends accompanied by a broad effort to refresh enterprise applications, Veghte asserted that the ability to characterize risk remains a challenge because the necessary information is scattered among different systems.

"We've approached security layer by layer," he said. "I have one tool for Web access, another tool for network access, another tool for e-mail. And yet I can't answer the basic question: Am I secure?"

Unfortunately, the security dashboard for too many security executives is the newspaper: These CISOs have a dozen different tools that generate reports and they still have to check the newspaper to see if their systems have been breached, he said.

"There's a huge opportunity to provide a higher level of visualization, comprehension, and response," Veghte said.

The opportunity arises out of the massive volume of log data generated by security applications.

"The challenge is one of lots and lots of data," said Veghte during his keynote presentation. "We're drowning in data...We have more threats and less visibility."

Much of that potentially actionable security information will pass under the radar because companies just don't have the tools to integrate it into their business processes and policies.

During his keynote, Veghte elaborated on these themes and argued that security must evolve to encompass better analytics and IT metrics. Security, he suggested, needs to be expressed in terms of a risk level agreement. HP, he believes, can do that by providing companies with a more holistic view of their IT systems. That means moving beyond perimeter security and so-called "point solutions" to toward a broad security strategy that works with mobile, virtualization, and the cloud.

"We have to address the reality that the user is more empowered than ever before," he said.

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