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Security vendors told to lead fight against cybercrime

Tim Greene | April 24, 2009
Essential elements to the fight will be cooperation developing strong security standards, sharing core technologies that others can build on and better integration of technology.

FRAMINGHAM, 22 APRIL 2009 - Network security vendors need to cooperate more with each other and with the government to effectively fight cybercriminals, state-sponsored cyberspying and cyber terrorists, the audience crowding the RSA Conference 2009 keynote session was told Tuesday.

Vendors are the only ones with the resources to create secure infrastructure so they must take the lead, said Art Coviello, president of RSA. "We do have a common enemy in the fraud ecosystem and if we work together, we can defeat it," he said.

Essential elements to the fight will be cooperation developing strong security standards, sharing core technologies that others can build on and better integration of technology.

He cited his own company's announcement at the conference that it is sharing certain free versions of its BSAFE encryption toolkit including those for C++ and Java. He also pointed to cooperation among EMC (which owns RSA), Cisco and Microsoft to create common policy and risk language for data loss prevention. Another example is RSA's work with VMware to enhance security in virtual environments so it is actually better than in physical environments.

Coviello brought out representatives of Cisco and Microsoft to say his company is collaborating with them on product interoperability to simplify security for customers. Coviello said some will say that these three companies can't work together. "They'd be wrong," said Brett Galloway, Cisco's senior vice president of wireless technology, who shared the stage.

The government has tried to work out how business and government can share threat intelligence, but that is just a tool, not a means to directly fight cybercrime and espionage, says Scott Charney, Microsoft senior vice president of trustworthy computing, who also joined Coviello on the stage. Charney sat on a commission that wrote recommendations last year for the incoming president.

"We need to reinvent the public-private partnership," he says. "The administration wants to build a new partnership that is operationally focused."

Businesses have to marshal all the strength they can to battle criminals who are organized and cooperative in their own behalf, Coviello said. "Their fraud ecosystem is marked by innovation," he said. "They are not bound by rules or law, [service-level agreements] or governance and compliance." He pointed to vast botnets as testimony to their effectiveness and to their business structure as similar to that of legitimate enterprises. "They specialize in tasks and have a supply chain similar to what legitimate businesses have," he said.

Vendors need common development processes so they can respond more quickly against new threats that are constantly being developed.

Beyond fighting cyber attacks, such cooperation could improve network efficiencies to the point that they boost corporate bottom lines with streamlined business processes, Coviello said.

 

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