LAS VEGAS – McAfee co-president Mike DeCesare kicked off the company’s Focus 2012 conference here with a presentation best described as a tale of two keynotes.
For the first half of his presentation, DeCesare effectively showed off just how scary malware in 2012 can be, including detailed dissections of big attacks like Flame and Operation High Roller can be, as well as a live demonstration of using Shamoon to “brick” a Windows PC, a Mac, and an Android tablet.
But if he sought to scare the audience of security professionals and channel partners with the first half, he sought to build them back up on with the second half, offering a sunny view of why the future will be better in the security market despite the ever expanding number of threats and growing complexity of attacks.
DeCesare’s optimism comes from a number a number of recent developments, he said:
- Legislation – although no major bills have passed, security-conscious legislation on the table in the U.S. shows that lawmakers are aware of the challenges and are building on it.
- ISPs are working together to wrestle the challenge of botnets, as well as other “public/private and private/private” partnerships emerging to tackle security challenges at an industry-wide level.
- More executives are “security-obligated,” meaning that the board of directors is increasingly aware of malware threats. Add to this DeCesare’s assertion that “nearly every organization has had some advanced threat that was significant enough that the board was aware of it.”
- Improvement to computing platforms – DeCesare said he believed Windows 8 will be the most security operating system Microsoft has delivered to date, and offer similar praise to Apple and Google for their work on making their respective computing and mobile platforms more secure.
- More awareness of key infrastructure security issues – DeCesare earlier in his presentation said that he believed that within our lives, we’ll see an attack that could take down a key infrastructure resource (the power grid, etc.) But he balanced this threat with the awareness that almost all governments around the planet are “putting a lot of effort into making [critical infrastructure] more safe.”
On a number of fronts, DeCesare suggested that he and his peers (read: competitors) in the security world would have to work together a lot more in the near future. Perhaps it’s the ultimate extent of the Security Connected mantra McAfee has been touting for the last two years.
First, the executive suggested, customer “will demand that the vendors you bring int your enterprise work together” including offerings at the endpoint, on mobile devices, on the network and in the data centre. Customers will also demand a higher level of integration, he said.
“We’ll be in a situation where our customers will simply not buy endpoint security unless it is tightly integrated to the devices it’s on,” he posited.
And he predicted another development that might be an even bigger sea change to the security market – after long holding their data on malware definitions and characteristics as a closely-guarded secret, DeCesare said he and his peers will have to get more open to sharing the crown jewels.
“We won’t be able to hold on with each security vendor viewing threat intelligence as unique [intellectual property, we’ll have to come together,” he said.