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RSA chief: New tech relies on security to be valuable

Teresa Leung | April 18, 2012
Interview with Art Coviello

CWHK: Your professional background -- when did you decide to get into technology?

Art Coviello: Though I don't have an engineering background, I was always fascinated by technology, and I'm a greatly curious person. I feel some of the smart people were in technology and I love to hang out with creative people. While I started my career in public accounting, I ventured into tech five years later. Now I've been in technology for 30 years.

CWHK: Would you still be in accounting if you weren't in technology?

AC: I can't see myself in any other field, having been in technology for that long. Over the years I took on more and more operational responsibilities, and I learned enough about technology especially during my years in RSA. I have formed my vision of what are required in security.

With an accounting background, I have a good sense of how systems are supposed to work--one of the things I did as an accountant was to study system and internal control. So I learned a fair amount of logic--in terms of how systems are supposed to work--which is applicable to the development of technology to be used to secure systems.

CWHK: How will increased cloud deployment and "big data" change security?

AC: Firms spend so much--two-thirds or three-quarters of IT budgets every year--to maintain existing systems. But now cloud computing represents a tremendous opportunity for us to apply far more information in those systems.

Let say tomorrow we'd put everything into the cloud and leverage virtual infrastructure. Billions of dollars today spent on hardware, software, and networks could then be repurposed to use information in unprecedented ways--this is the promise of cloud. That brings you right into the concept of big data because there's so much information out there that can be processed and used if we can figure out ways to get hold of it.

I recently learned that 40% of food grown in the developing world is wasted before it's available in the market, and 40% of food in the developed countries is wasted in stores and homes. If we could apply technology and cut that waste into half, we could feed a billion and a half people. We can also apply technology to improve energy efficiency and solve other problems.

It might be near the end of my career, but I can see that clearly in the next ten to 20 years we will be able to make promising breakthroughs in the use of information. This is achievable only if we can trust that information won't be stolen, manipulated, or lost--security technology has a key role to play in this.


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