Information security (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I always look forward to Infosecurity Europe week, which guarantees a great congregation of security luminaries and practitioners in London. I say "week" because there is so much going on around it. You run into many old friends, meet new colleagues and learn a lot about the latest products and services.
This year I attended the first day of Infosecurity and its accompanying receptions, though I spent longer at the nearby Counter Terrorist Expo at Olympia
What impressions did these events leave? Very different and varied I have to say. The Infosecurity conference agenda was lacklustre, though the exhibition was first class. It's been progressively changing from a conference into an exhibition, which is probably no bad thing for the exhibitors, though it could limit the attraction. Interestingly, many security managers I met said they were there for the exhibition, rather than the conference sessions. You just have to walk around to find experts on just about every aspect of security.
The added attraction is the raft of free lunches and receptions in nearby hostelries. This is the inevitable result of expensive but rather limited in-house dining facilities. It persuades many visitors to look outside for lunch or early evening drinks. But it creates a tremendous village environment for the whole area. Portcullis must be congratulated for breaking the mould and establishing a rival centre for security managers to congregate. Good for them for setting and maintaining this trend. Competition is always welcome in any field.
The Counter Terrorist Expo at Olympia had a better conference agenda with sessions on just about every aspect of physical, personnel and electronic security. A key concern for many was the security of the London Olympics. But the most interesting trend to note was the progressive shift of cyber security know-how into the defence and counter terrorist space. Let's face it we haven't seen anything yet until we experience the impact of true cyber warfare or cyber terrorism. They're not yet happening. We'd certainly notice it if they were.
These events are quite different from their equivalents in other regions. In the Netherlands it's hard to find the conference. In contrast, in Hong Kong at the 21C Info-security event (at which I'll be giving the keynote address) the main focus is the conference, which will be very well attended. The Hong Kong event is also better themed with a greater focus on innovation and the need for revolutionary thinking.
So what did I take away from this week? It was so rich that I can only point out a few highlights. The Counter Terrorist conference had the best agenda. There were great presentations on terrorist threats and sophisticated debates on electronic conflict and cyber warfare. These are faster moving issues, unlike traditional information security management which has been stuck in a rut for the past decade.
The most interesting product on display at Olympia was the panic room in a box, At Earls Court it was Wave Systems' secure Facebook solution. Secure social media is a societal game changer if the vendors can get the marketing right. Communities will be able to hide their communications. But who will hold the keys? The answer of course is that it will depend on the pattern of the uptake rather than the desires of the various actors.Like many of the future trends in security, it's in the lap of the Gods.