Growing business clout helping CSOs promote security-tech shift: Zuk

The security industry can expect the recent acquisition trend to continue as small companies seek to bring innovative new technologies to market and larger vendors offer customers new ways to help resolve lingering business-security conflict, a founder of Palo Alto Networks has predicted.

Speaking in the wake of his company's acquisition of startup Morta Security, co-founder and chief technology officer Nir Zuk told CSO Australia that the recent spate of acquisitions – including FireEye's $US1b purchase of Mandiant and Cisco Systems' $US2.7b purchase of Sourcefire – Zuk said the filling-out of vendors' toolsets would help the many enterprise security specialists, who had become engaged in ideological struggles over control of increasingly risk-prone computing assets such as smartphones and tablets.

“Mobile devices are changing everything,” he said. “In the past year or two, we've seen attempts by security groups to mandate the management of mobile devices by the enterprise.

“However, we're now seeing that backing off a bit and finding something in the middle, where devices are only partially managed by the security group and the end user who has brought the device to the enterprise gets more control over it. I think that business and security are finally learning how to live together.”

One example of this is in the desktop-security area, where desktop-management specialists had often built and managed standard operating environments (SOEs) with little regard for how they fit into the overall information-security posture.

That is changing, however, as increasing CSO and CxO collaboration puts security concerns higher on the agenda. “I'm seeing the beginning of a shift where the CSO has more and more say about what goes into the desktop for security, and management is taking second place,” Zuk said.

Even as the lingering power struggles subside, however, the unified defence teams are continuing to face challenges as users fight to work around security controls that are perceived to limit their ability to perform business functions – particularly when it comes to mobile devices.

“Business leaders keep telling me that one of their biggest challenge is that every time they want to do something, they hear 'no' from the security group,” Zuk said. “Because the business keeps trying to find ways around security, that shift in the industry from preventing to enabling [the business] has to be made.”

The push by vendors to enable that shift will continue to drive the security agenda as large and growing market leaders tap into the creativity of innovative startups that are “having a hard time getting their innovations to market,” he added.

“There are always different approaches in the market, and there is a lot of innovation out there. But traditional vendors were focused on blocking, and that has helped new vendors grow very quickly and successfully. The consolidation of technologies around the firewall will continue, and both we and our competitors will ned to provide our customers with much better tools for assessing their security levels.”

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