Rolling Stone “The Biggest Cyber Crime in History – Sex, Drugs, and Hackers Gone Wild”

I wouldn’t normally read Rolling Stone but strolling through the airport I noticed “The Biggest Cyber Crime in History – Sex, Drugs & Hackers Gone Wild” on the cover and like passing a train wreck you can’t help but stare at I had to buy a copy, that and it appears that Russel Brands armpit was positioned ever so strategically against the reference as well – very apropos I might add.

Continue reading

Symantec buys Vontu – The Good, The Bad, and the Yellow

CUPERTINO, Calif. – Nov. 5, 2007 – Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Vontu, the leader in Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions, for $350 million, which will be paid in cash and assumed options. The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth calendar quarter of 2007, subject to receiving regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

The good: DLP is a nascent market but experiencing a tremendous amount of hyperbole. Driven by increased breach disclosure and sophisticated attacks organizations are moving to gain visibility and control over the information in their organization. Vontu provides a network DLP/CMF offering and this allows Symantec to enter the DLP space in the face of the DLP feeding frenzy.

The Bad: In 2006 Symantec announced that it would EOL its SGS, SNS, and SEF line of network security appliances. Symantec never focused on Network Security and their products were consistently weak compared to the competition. Vontu’s strength is in their network appliance offering which presents a challenge to Symantec as they move to integrate DLP into their product suite. As the DLP market matures it will become an integral part of other technical controls, it is unrealistic to think that data security, especially as it is implemented as a network control, would be maintained separately from other forms of network security controls – Symantec is in a poor position to provide a converged network security market offering and this will limit the success of Vontu as the market evolves.

Vontu also has a relatively immature and weak end-point DLP offering and with the average organization maintaining fewer than 20 percent of its employees at its headquarters location, the distributed enterprise has become the norm. Putting personnel closer to the business front lines and equipping them with mobile devices has changed how the enterprise operates. Further, critical business process functions are being off-shored at an increasing rate. As employees, contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders access and handle corporate data from remote locations and on the road IT manages more devices not under their direct control or traversing the corporate networks than ever before. While the structure of today’s organization creates new opportunities for efficiency and better customer service, it also creates greater opportunities for data leaks and loss. Symantec has acquired a poor end point DLP solution and lacks strong central management capabilities and will face challenges selling DLP to the enterprise desktop and integrating the technology into their end-point security offering

The yellow: Symantec has one of the worst records of integration in the security industry. They only recently released Hamlet, which is their integrated end point security technology. Hamlet is a convergence of Sygate, Symantec, and Whole security in a single agent and it only took them 2-3 years to accomplish what the competition has been offering since 2005. Not to mention that Symatec is still reeling from integration issues with Veritas, Bindview, Altiris, and the long string of end-point products that have had some yellow paint slapped on them accompanied by an updated price sheet sent out to the filed but lack any real integration.

Symantec will struggle to provide a converged network security offering (Vontu is yet another network security device) since they do not own any of the other pieces, except gateway email security and Vontu’s end-point DLP offering is not strong enough to impact the market. All in all this is an expensive purchase for two companies that are only aligned because they exist in the large, amorphous and increasingly inadequate security market.

White-collar smack down…

Former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling was sentenced to 24 years and four months by a Houston judge (here) Personally I think he got off easy, not only does Enron represent one of the darkest aspects of humanity, namely greed, but they destroyed the financial lives of so many hard-working families. Not to mention that Skilling and Enron are part of the spark that lit the “compliance” fire and released the regulatory beast upon industry, and like Grendel from Beowulf we will have to live with this monster ripping the arms off IT for many years to come – thanks guys!

Sanjay Kumar – you’re next buddy.

Tibetan Refugees Shot by Chinese Forces, Witnesses Silenced…


Thanks to Boing Boing and Xeni Jardin for posting this story, which has truly saddened me, but needs to be told…

A group of ethnic Tibetans trying to flee Tibet were shot dead by Chinese troops on September 30, at a Himalayan pass near the border of China and Nepal (Tibet is an “autonomous region” of China, having been taken over by the PRC in the 1950s). Reports are emerging that Communist party officials have attempted to silence witnesses, including Western trekkers who were in the area when the killing occurred. Snip from The Independent:

Chinese diplomats in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu are tracking down and trying to silence hundreds of Western climbers and Sherpas who witnessed the killing of Tibetan refugees on the Nangpa La mountain pass last week. This ominous development comes as fears grow for the safety of a group of Tibetan children, aged between six and 10, who were marched away after at least two refugees including a nun, were shot dead.

I was born in Kathmandu, my middle name is Tsering which means “immortality” in Tibetan. My step-father is Tibetan and was part of a small group of resistance fighters, the Khampa Army, funded by the CIA to disrupt and harass the Chinese in and around Nepal and to gather information on Chinese troop movements from Tibetan refugees fleeing Tibet. Coincidentally the first undercover CIA agent killed in the line of Duty died trying to flee China as Mao’s army took control (here). That was a long time ago…

Tibet is the only society to demilitarize themselves and as Tibet gets wiped from the history books, as China continues its genocide of the Tibetan people and its culture, and as world leaders and terrorists drive us closer to a nuclear confrontation, can we afford to lose the level of compassionate spirituality the Tibetans embody?