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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘Security’

This week, FireEye acquired nPulse technologies to strengthen its security platform. FireEye’s security platform is built on the concept that securing a business cannot be done at singular points, as is the case with legacy security platforms. FireEye’s approach is to gather as much information as it can, from sources such as Web, email, mobile devices, and the network, and analyze the data to more accurately find and analyze threats and intrusions.

The accuracy of FireEye’s platform is based on the data that it has to analyze. The more you can see, the more accurate the security. Given that the company ponied up about $70 million ($60 million in cash and $10 million in stock based on milestones) for one of its partners, nPulse technologies is intended to allow FireEye to see more. nPulse was actually a partner of FireEye’s prior to the acquisition, and I’m guessing the value that nPulse provided as a partner led to the purchase.

The product from nPulse processes and indexes network packet data very quickly, as well as providing the capability to query the information to gain visibility into what happened during any kind of breach or intrusion. Without nPulse, customers would have to sift through reams and reams of data and log files and somehow manually correlate the data with the intrusion. Unless you’re Mr. Spock, manual analysis and correlation is almost impossible unless it’s the full-time job of a team of people. Personally, I’d prefer having Spock on staff (the Leonard Nimoy version; no offense to Zachary Quinto) but a tool like nPulse is almost as good.

Over the last few weeks, the security industry has been rocked by the Heartbleed bug, which impacted OpenSSL-based websites. Heartbleed takes advantage of an OpenSSL feature called heartbeat, which exchanges data between the user’s computer and the webserver. Heartbleed causes the web server to send back a massive amount of data, rather than only the data it’s supposed to, including sensitive, private customer information. The bug caused many companies and vendors to scramble to develop a fix to prevent any further leakage of data.

However, F5 customers were protected from the bug if they were running the security module. F5’s cipher stack customers were not affected as the bogus requests were identified and dealt with before they could get to the web server. It actually makes a strong case for running SSL offload in the application delivery controller (ADC) as a matter of standard practice.

So, that’s great for customers who use SSL offload, but what about customers who do not? Well, for that F5 actually created an iRule within a couple of hours of heartbleed being discovered. Customers could then apply the iRule to the F5 ADC and be protected from it.

It’s interesting how the tech industry works. In late 2011, Cisco was in the midst of revamping itself, its stock was a shade under $14/share, and its investors calling for CEO John Chambers to resign. Today, as Mike Reno from Loverboy used to sing, “The kid is hot tonight, whoa, so hot tonight.” Indeed, Mr. Chambers is on quite a roll, Cisco stock is a shade under $26/share, investors are happy, the entire network product line has been revamped in the past year, and the company is creating some distance between itself and its network completion.

However, despite the momentum by Cisco, it’s hard to say the company has been firing on all cylinders. One of the cylinders that hasn’t been firing well is security. Last year, in a hot market, Cisco security sales fell 4% year-over-year. Over the past couple of years, companies like Palo Alto Networks, Imperva, and Fortinet have grabbed the media headlines in security and made Cisco security look old. In fact, on past earnings calls, Chambers actually called out security as an area that needed to be fixed and something that would be addressed in the future.



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