Why You Need a Disruptive Computer Security Solution

Bracket-Ambika_Gadre-headshotby Ambika Gadre

Many computer security firms are trapped by the classic Innovator’s Dilemma described by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen in his ground-breaking book of the same name. The basic idea is that companies that make only incremental advances to satisfy what their customers want today, risk being marginalized by competitors more willing to invest in revolutionary advances designed to address future needs.

For decades, computer security has been about literally and virtually putting up walls to protect IT’s most cherished asset, the data center. There is no lack of companies that do this quite well. But computer security and the computing infrastructure in general has changed quite a bit.

Does that perimeter that traditional security firms are designed to protect even exist anymore in the age of mobility and cloud computing?

Netflix, one of the biggest users of big data, recently announced that it’s getting ready to shut down its last data center and move everything to the Amazon cloud. http://blogs.csc.com/2015/08/26/netflix-says-good-bye-data-center-hello-cloud/

And Netflix is hardly alone. As the footprint of the data center changes and even disappears, the evolution of networking and storage to a software defined model is inevitable. Security also needs to evolve to ensure its protecting companies digital assets wherever they are.

Vendors can’t solve these issues in a vacuum – that’s how you get technology in search of a problem. There needs to be a dialog and collaboration between vendors and customers so that solutions aren’t just incremental, but a new generation that can handle future security threats and offer easily scalable computing in both private and public clouds.

The late Steve Jobs once compared Apple’s mission to a quote by hockey legend Wayne Gretsky who said being a great player wasn’t about following the puck, but anticipating where it was going to be next. But what if there is no puck and the game isn’t hockey anymore? With the rise of consumerization of technology, the game has changed dramatically. Because users aren’t always behind the firewall anymore, we need new thinking and comprehensive solutions, not yesterday’s perimeter defense approach.

The new ‘game’ is played by secretive figures who could be up the street or halfway around the globe. Rather than spend resources poking and prodding your infrastructure for weakness, they’re checking LinkedIn and other social networks for administrative assistants, contractors and other contacts – anyone who is potentially one or two steps away from those who control your network and other assets.

The hackers who stole millions of health insurance records from Anthem, for example, got the log-in credentials of five different employees, including a computer systems administrator, as part of their effort to penetrate the company’s computer network.

Next Generation Infrastructure
Clearly, new approaches are needed. As one CIO told me in a recent conversation, developing a next generation infrastructure requires a comprehensive, forward-looking approach that applies not only to the network, but the workloads and the user analytics and everything else that can be done to make a successful security program. Also, the tools need to work together. All too often, he says, companies have a separate cloud and data center environment, separated by different panes of glass that don’t interoperate.

Big, established companies will continue to provide useful incremental advances, but truly disruptive solutions are more likely to come from newer, nimble companies able to take a fresh approach to the challenges of today and tomorrow because they aren’t heavily invested in older infrastructure models. Five years from now I expect there to be seamless integration between public and private clouds as software defined architectures take hold. Physical security controls will be surpassed by strong logical controls and encryption will become the new boundary.

Companies that start developing a strong vision for the future, talking to vendors and initiating pilot projects, will be well ahead of the curve.

Ambika Gadre is the vice president of product and marketing at Bracket Computing.



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