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Last week, I joined the throngs of IT and business leaders to explore the latest offerings from the security vendors that exhibit at the RSA conference in San Francisco. RSA is the largest security conference by far, and the sheer number of security topics, ominous threats, and solutions to address those threats is always interesting, thought-provoking, and often overwhelming. After strolling through the acres of exhibition space, taking it all in (and picking up a tchotchke or two—my boys loved the sword with swashbuckling sounds), here are the three observations from the show I found most interesting.

Do machines have 20/20 visibility?

Machine learning and AI were everywhere, and the killer use case for them is threat visibility. After 27 years of RSA, it’s no wonder we have developed into a giant threat log­–producing industry. And with all these logs, it’s not surprising that we rely on machines to make sense of them. Humans can only identify so many threats, and there are far more that remain hidden than those that are actually being detected…which brings us to machine learning and AI.

Tasked with connecting the dots that have, so far, been unconnectable, these new technologies offer great promise in helping IT minimize breach dwell time. The problem is that machine learning and AI can only deliver 20/20 vision when given the right logs to analyze. While organizations have tons of logs, there are often significant blind spots that can have a massive impact on visibility. Users dropping off your network is one. Traditional security controls can’t follow these users, so there is no visibility and no logs. SSL/TLS traffic is another. Many threats hide in SSL, and again organizations go blind unless they’re able to scan all of this traffic. So, while machine learning and AI may help make sense out of log data, to pass your eye test, you’ll need to close the gaps on your SSL traffic and remote users.

The rise of the software-defined perimeter 

I was fully expecting to see the term “zero trust” plastered everywhere, but the buzzword wasn’t as prevalent as I’d expected. While it did have its share of coverage, the concept of zero trust seemed to have been manipulated and misconstrued. Instead, I saw many booths displaying the technology behind zero trust, focusing mostly on the software-defined perimeter (SDP).

SDP is a term used by Gartner to describe a new set of technologies that deliver zero trust networking and provide secure access to private applications in a cloud-first world. SDP not only serves as a more secure VPN alternative, but also enables enterprises to easily adopt a multi-cloud strategy, secure third-party users, and even accelerate any current or future mergers, acquisitions, or divestitures.

If you’re interested in learning more about the software-defined perimeter and how you can enable a zero trust networking strategy, jump on over and check out ZPA.

Too much of a good thing?

The security industry is massive and so is RSA. Walking around, it easy to get overwhelmed by the size and scope of offerings from more than 700 exhibitors. Larger organizations with massive security budgets could easily find themselves drowning in a sea of vendors and shiny new gadgets. And to what end? Often, the approach taken to fix a newly discovered gap is to bolt on a point solution. Rinse and repeat a few more times and do it all again next year.

In addition, it’s fair to say a majority of the security professionals roaming the halls have inherited a good portion of their security stack with their current jobs. Quite often, that stack is teetering between complexity and functionality like a house of cards on a rickety table. A good question to ask is: if you could rebuild your security model, would you do it differently? If your answer is, “Yeah, I probably would,” you might be interested in the Zscaler security stack as a service. Thoughtfully built from the ground up to reduce complexity, improve integration, reduce business risk, and scale as your organization grows, it’s well worth exploring.

And, it’s not nearly as overwhelming as RSA!

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Steve Grossenbacher is a senior product marketing manager at Zscaler


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