3 Takeaways from RSAC 2020

By Fortra's Digital Defense

From expo floor discussions to the highly anticipated sessions on cryptography, cyber threats, ransomware, and cloud and IoT security, RSAC 2020 was well-attended despite the notable departure of IBM, Facebook, and Verizon. With 36,000 attendees, 704 speakers, and 658 exhibitors this year, RSA did a great job driving home the Human Element of cybersecurity.

The mainstage keynotes focused on the indispensable role humans play in the world's cybersecurity mission. George Takei's kick-off presentation on what makes all personality types fundamental to innovation in the field was visually and emotionally inspiring. Following Takei, RSA President Rohit Ghai, gave his perspective on the human impact on cybersecurity, "Data breaches and cyberattacks create headlines and drive stories of security incompetence, irrespective of all the times when cybersecurity professionals help thwart or mitigate these incidents," Ghai said. "That's one reason the theme of the conference is 'The Human Element.'"

Emerging Show Themes

RSA's theme was by far its best in years. The concept gave rise to additional themes and discussions that rely on the Human Element, and we've pulled the top three themes that emerged in sessions, presentations, and individual conversations:

  1. Prioritizing vulnerabilities as the attack surface grows and attackers become more sophisticated
  2. Addressing the shortage of security professionals with innovative technology
  3. Collaboration across the industry, the globe, and inside each organization to win the cybersecurity fight

1.   Enhanced Prioritization

Steve Grobman, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at McAfee, posed in his keynote that sharing threat intelligence and vulnerability management are fundamental components to succeed in the global cybersecurity effort. He asked this question of the audience: "Are we patching fast enough to resolve fundamental implementation flaws in all of the components that we count on?" He went on to make the point that the attack surface is spreading and the threats are getting more sophisticated, making it challenging to remediate them quickly.

In her interview with ISMG at RSAC 2020, Mieng Lim, our VP of Product Management, went further, stating that, tools like CVE and CVSS tend to be too broad, making EVERY vulnerability critical; this makes it challenging to know which vulnerabilities to prioritize. Frontline Threat Landscape™ enriches standard vulnerability metrics with real-world threat intelligence, including chatter from the dark web and other information sources. Frontline Threat Landscape mines which malware criminals are using to leverage specific vulnerabilities, and which tools they're using to exploit those vulnerabilities. It's with this enhanced information that users can actually prioritize vulnerabilities successfully. You can watch Mieng's full interview here.

2. Vulnerability Management for the People - Empowering Security Professionals

“Simplicity should be a major focus for all facets of security, from development teams employing DevSecOps to security operations centers looking to find attackers in their business's daily network traffic,” was the message Clint Gilber of NCC Group conveyed. With limited budgets and the shortage of security professionals, it’s more important than ever to deliver security technology that is easy to use so organizations aren’t limited by resources.

This is no surprise to Digital Defense. Ever since we built the industry's first cloud-native vulnerability and threat management platform, we have maintained an enduring commitment to keeping our platform accessible and easy-to-use. At RSAC 2020 we introduced Frontline Network Map™ as one more innovation that makes vulnerability and threat management easy to use. Frontline Network Map gives organizations that use the Frontline. Cloud platform the ability to quickly view asset relationships and interconnectivity to pinpoint at-risk network segments and areas of crucial vulnerability and active threat with an accurate graphic depiction of their risk. This level of visualization enables rapid response to those assets or network clusters that present the highest exposure. Knowing that many businesses are feeling the shortage of experienced security professionals, we've combined automation and intelligence to keep vulnerability management simple.

3.   Collaboration – Sharing is Caring

Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure, unveiled several vulnerabilities exposed in open source code in his presentation: Collaborating to Improve Open Source Security. Russinovich pointed out that much of the Azure platform is built on top of open-source software, and Microsoft is committed to working with communities to improve code security with tools that look for common vulnerabilities. Compromises in commonly used open-source tools have been downloaded tens of millions of times, and can have a disastrous downstream effect in what he calls the 'software supply chain.' Microsoft is working to build processes and automated tooling to track vulnerabilities across all the dependencies in the software supply chain. "Our goal is to lift all boats in the open-source ecosystem, to socialize the problem and the growing efforts to keep the industry healthy, with many ways to participate."

Businesses around the globe are running applications built using open source code. If you're concerned about applications in your environment, Frontline Web Application Scanning™ scans your web apps to identify both open and closed source vulnerabilities.

Another approach to collaboration mentioned several times throughout the conference is the importance of threat sharing across the industry. Michael Daniel, President and CEO of the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA), proposed that threat sharing makes security organizations more competitive. The CTA sees an emerging trend among CISOs who are starting to demand that cybersecurity vendors serve as the system integrator when deploying their application into the client's organization. Within the next two years, the customer will demand that vendors come to the table as a team, and threat intelligence must be shared in order to gain the business. Sharing strengthens vendor connections for when that 'bad day' arrives. "You do not want to be trading business cards and understanding each other's organizational structure in the middle of a crisis. You want to already to know the people on the other end of the line and have that trust built up."

That's a wrap for the 2020 edition of the RSA Conference. We had a great show, and we're elated to see that from the Human Element to the emerging themes during the show, we're getting it right.

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