View from the airport: McAfee MPOWER 2017

A coherent view of a secure future, without the FUD

It's been a big year in the security world. Between WannaCry, Petya and the rest, the dangers posed by cyber criminals have started to hit home in a way we haven't really seen before.

At MPOWER, McAfee has looked into this and more and, in my opinion, presented a coherent view of what the future of the security landscape looks like not just for the company but more globally.

The key themes can be summarised thus: Attackers are not stupid and in many cases have a high level of resources at their disposal perhaps even more than a nation state. Attacks and attack methods will get ever more sophisticated, such as ransomware being used as a decoy rather than the main attack. In order to stand a chance of beating or getting ahead of them, security vendors need to completely change tactics, or otherwise we're stuck in a "Red Queen race" situation running ever faster and exhausting ourselves, but getting nowhere.

This is all true and interesting, but if you're in the security industry they're not really novel ideas.

What was refreshing about MPOWER, however, was the emphasis on communicating these risks and trends to businesses, within businesses and to the wider community without resorting to FUD - sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt.

This has been indeed, still is the security industry's stock in trade. The opening to this year's RSA conference was a shining example of this (I'm not going to regale you with the full details, but it involved pictures of war zones and apocalyptic soliloquies).

What has turned McAfee off this approach? It's hard to say - perhaps reality is scary enough nowadays - but it's nice to have someone lay out the challenges and possible solutions in a measured, rather than melodramatic, way.

The other key theme has been the importance of partnerships, encompassed by the event's "Together is Power" tagline. In practice this means multiple things -- humans and machines working together, breaking down silos within businesses and, of course, its own Security Innovation Alliance.

It's hard to deny the importance of collaboration when it comes to security, though - all the biggest take downs and raids have been thanks to various vendors and law enforcement agencies working together.

All in all, it has been an enlightening and informative week, with McAfee cementing its new identity. Let's hope we can continue to have more rational discussions about security outside of conference centres in Las Vegas too.

Main image credit: McAfee

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