Report Casts Pall On Security Industry (But Don't Fret Yet)

Network security's days in the limelight are over, according to a recent report from ICA Syndicate. Before you go looking for a new career, though, it may be helpful to first cast a wary eye on some of the report's findings.
"Network security's days in the limelight are over," according to a recent report from the ICA Syndicate, the publishing arm of the research and strategy firm Intellectual Capital Associates. Before you go looking for a new career, it may be helpful to first cast a wary eye on some of the reports findings.

The report, titled "Network Security: When Fears Subside," says "corporate IT spending is shifting away from security," and that the renewed focus on security following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have "faded."

As companies become more selective in how they spend security dollars, ICA Syndicate believes three trends will emerge: an increased emphasis on security integration and intelligence; a shift toward hardware-based security products; and a rise in personalization technologies, such as biometrics.

In the integration category, ICA cites the market for network security management products as "one of the most attractive for venture money." NSM products collect data from multiple security devices and correlate it to help users pinpoint the source of a security problem. But NSM vendors are being "squeezed" by network management players such as IBM's Tivoli unit and BMC Software, along with larger security players such as Symantec, Internet Security Systems and Network Associates, according to ICA Syndicate.

"Expect consolidation to sweep through this sector, and within two years, NSM probably won't exist as a stand-alone security category," the report says. It does not go on to explain how or why consolidation would eliminate a product category. Consolidation was rampant in the network management market, with companies including IBM and BMC acquiring others along the way, but network management never went away as a category.

In the security intelligence category, ICA Syndicate expects Counterpane and other startups that provide outsourced security monitoring services to "face challenges." These include winning the trust of their customers and convincing customers to pay a monitoring fee on top of what they've already paid for their security products.

While the trust issue is certainly valid, the report could have mentioned that the value proposition these security players generally bring to the table: that they can monitor your security products less expensively than you can do it yourself, if indeed you can find enough qualified staffers in the first place.

The report goes on to site problems with intrusion detection software that "exposes only where a breach could take place, and does little to prevent it." That sounds like a vulnerability scanning tool, because IDSs generally alert you to intrusions as they are taking place.

ICA Syndicate does make some predictions that seem more plausible.

Going forward, more companies will turn to hardware-based security appliances because they are easier to deploy and offer better performance, the report says, although software products are more intelligent and adaptable. Overall, companies will spend about the same amount on each type, whereas the split today is about two-thirds software and one-third hardware.

ICA Syndicate also sees a bright future for biometrics and technologies including tokens and other types of ID cards that offer strong, two-factor authentication. But, the report says, "widespread adoption of biometric security won't take place for several years, primarily because of high costs and technologic shortcomings."

"Network Security: When Fears Subside," is part of a three-part suite of reports that costs $995. It is available at (Tip: Spend the $995 on a new security appliance instead.)

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