Four Takeaways from RSA 2019

This year’s conference offered important conversations around machine learning, cost-effectiveness, and workforce well-being.

We had another fantastic year at the RSA Conference in San Francisco! This year’s show was especially exciting as it happened right on the heels of Interset’s acquisition by Micro Focus—one of the largest software companies in the world. And as the newest member of Micro Focus’ Security, Risk, and Governance portfolio, we were happy to have had the chance to share the word about our fantastic technology at our booth as well as theirs.

RSA 2019 Collage
Interset at RSA Conference 2019 in San Francisco, California

Needless to say, we had a blast chatting with attendees about their cybersecurity projects, challenges, and objectives and thought we’d share a few themes that caught our attention.

AI and machine learning are still hot-button

There has been a lively murmur of frustration in our industry around the ubiquity of vendor artificial intelligence (AI) claims. That being said, AI—and machine learning, in particular—remains a critical tool in anyone’s cybersecurity arsenal. The critical thing is to understand that not all machine learning is created equal and then determine which tool is the right one for your business’s particular objectives.

Attendees asked good questions this year. Can you tell us about your machine learning? What makes it different and appropriate for my use cases? Inevitably, we dove into many discussions on unsupervised versus supervised machine learning. Interset leverages unsupervised machine learning, a type of machine learning that relies on identifying patterns within data and eliminates the need for labels, which are required with supervised machine learning. The method also means we don’t have to depend on rules and thresholds to baseline a user or entity in your environment. What it means, in a nutshell, is more accurate threat detection that doesn’t burden you with a constant flurry of (often false) alerts. I highly recommend reading our blog series on AI & Machine Learning if you’re interested in learning more about AI and our approach to it.

More companies are seeking Zero Trust

We’ve heard an increasing amount of talk about Zero Trust over the past couple of years and, at RSA 2019, the topic was everywhere. The Zero Trust Model, a concept created by Forrester, assumes that network vulnerabilities have made a true perimeter virtually impossible. Zero Trust shifts away from the implied trust you grant a network user (allowing them to access various network segments) and instead introduces micro-segmentation where internal devices can’t simply connect to any network resource. The idea of Zero Trust seems to be taking off rapidly, and for good reason. But RSA vendors, attendees, and speakers alike spent a fair amount of time debating how organizations can truly reach a zero-trust architecture. According to Chase Cunningham, Forrester Principal Analyst and expert on all things Zero Trust, many technologies can help facilitate a Zero Trust environment, but it’s up to the organization deploying the model to ensure its strategy and success.

Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness shouldn’t be mutually exclusive

Attendees aren’t shy to push for technology that meets this year’s conference theme: “Better.” But what does better mean for their specific needs? A recurring point we discuss with prospective customers is making sure that effective technology doesn’t come at an unsustainable price. With analytics, this is a valid concern. Compute costs associated with traditional deployments of analytics can be substantial, but Interset is committed to enabling the same powerful analytics in a less cost-prohibitive and more flexible way.

Interset’s CTO, Stephan Jou, discussed this topic in a recent blog (the final installment in our ethical AI series). Be sure to check it out to understand how our deployment options (we’ve already introduced cloud-native services) and algorithm selections factor in cost-effectiveness and, ultimately, the sustainability of our world as a whole.

If our industry wants to do “better,” we need to take care of our people

In addition to really important technological conversations at RSA, we can’t ignore the call for greater attention to security professionals themselves. There are important changes that need to be made to strike a better balance in our industry in terms of workforce issues like diversity, inclusion, and burnout. While our industry is beginning to take small steps toward diversifying the workforce, there is still much to be done. And recruiting into cybersecurity isn’t a piece of cake either—nor is retention. This year, we saw an entire presentation dedicated to burnout in the industry. As PTC CSO Josh Corman said, it’s incredibly challenging to overcome the feeling that “no matter how hard you work, you always fail.” Security, in particular, has a problem with this, given that the “bad guys” seem to a step ahead around every corner.

As vendors, it’s important to understand that issues like burnout could be happening at a prospective or current customer so that we can learn how to best partner with them and alleviate some of the workforce burdens with technological support. For Interset, this has always been and continues to be a critical driving factor for our technological innovation. Our technology is designed to support humans, not replacing them—and certainly not make their work more complicated.

If you didn’t have the chance to meet with us this year at RSA, we’re happy to set aside time to speak with you in the coming weeks. Contact us to schedule a chat.