SafeNet, CA to RSA customers: Let's talk

Companies need to take a data centric, not layered approach to security say vendors

Rival security vendors are reaching out to RSA's local customers with offers of free tokens.

RSA has to replace millions of tokens at a cost of over US$1 billion after it was revealed in March that the company was the target of a major hack. Information within the tokens was later used to break into US defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

Westpac and ANZ announced this week that at least 50,000 replacement tokens would be issued for bank staff and customers.

SafeNet Asia Pacific vice president, Humphrey Chan, said that RSA should have responded to the attack, which was first reported on 18 March, much earlier.

"RSA has been a leader in the token market and we respect their position but the only option for them right now is to replace the tokens," Chan said. "Even then I believe they should have done that a lot earlier and not waited. There are millions and millions of customers out there who need new tokens."

He conceded that people may question if using SafeNet's tokens would be any safer than RSA. "They may say `You provide the same offering, what's the difference?'. Our position is that tokens are still a safe option to be deployed but we have made changes."

According to Chan, customers would be given control of the file and data so they can manage the security of the data by themselves. It can also offer backend security to protect the key.

"Authentication is one part of securing data but other things like secure applications and data transfer is even more important," he said.

CA Technologies has also offered affected RSA customers a deal with a three-year enterprise licence for its ArcotID software token. The offer runs until 30 September. According to the vendor, the only cost to the customer is maintenance. Security principal consultant, Trevor Iverach, said that it was seeing some customers from RSA had taken advantage of the offer already.

"Even before that breach occurred, we were seeing a general shift in interest in organisations moving away from hardware-based tokens," Iverach said.

"They calculated the cost and the lack of flexibility in managing those tokens such as lost tokens, dead batteries, people travelling and losing them overseas."

He added that companies needed to change their "security mindset" and start taking a data-centric approach.

"The lessons from all the security breaches that organisations need to take are that they need to evolve their security mind set from a layered security approach where they rely on layers of protection to look after their most important assets which are data and information," Iverach said.

"They still need to invest in layered security but also look at a data-centric approach. They can answer simple questions such as where is their most business critical data, who has access to it, where it does move around the organisation and can I provide controls around that?"

Earlier this week, 2nd Phase founder, Campbell Bradford, whose company distributes a rival, tokenless security product, expressed concern that Australian companies would be waiting a long time for replacement tokens.

"The organisation spent money on a security product to do a job and it is now not doing that job so why spend any more money [redistributing new tokens] on a product that is potentially putting the organisation at risk?" said Bradford.

"There is simply not any evidence of a sound business argument in favour of more operational expense being spent on this product."

RSA Australia's parent company EMC was contacted for comment by Computerworld Australia but declined to respond.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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