Opinion

Mysterious security firms mysteriously quiet at Infosec

You can tell a lot about an IT company by the style of communication they send out.

If we receive five pages of indecipherable messages, with unreadable sentences written in a random mixture of UpPer and LOwER case, with the word Strictly Under Embargo interspersed throughout the passages of text, you can guarantee this is from a security company.

Mixing the techniques of encryption and access prevention, the press release will bamboozle the reader. It renders them queasy after a few seconds of scanning the ugly text and create an impenetrable barrier of meaningless jargon. This jargon is then overlaid with a flexible layer of morale sapping buzzwords that instantly kill 99% of all curiosity and punish those who try to learn more.

The combined efforts of the marketing manager and their chosen PR representatives are designed to stop people taking an interest in them. There can be no other rational explanation for this weird behaviour. Why else would they break all the grammatical rules of the English language? Why else would they deliberately shun all the design disciplines - honed over the course of centuries of written communications – that have been proven to encourage people to read a document? The only conclusion you can logically draw is that the security vendors desperately don’t want you to understand their products and services and really don’t want you to write about them.

But it would be nice to give you an idea of what’s happening at Infosec this week. For reasons that aren’t clear, the vendors don’t want us to explain what they do, but here’s what I think might be happening.

A security vendor has signed an agreement with a distributor. We can’t name any of the parties involved, as it’s under strict embargo but we can tell you that they will be offering certified channel partners some tools and training.

I can’t understand why they want to keep it a secret. Whatever could be going on? What are they scared of?

Meanwhile, another company has conducted a study which found that 91% of people trust businesses to keep their data safe. This is despite the fact that there have been reported data breaches for 93% of large organisations and 87% of small businesses in 2013. Why on earth do they want this kept quiet? You would have thought that having spent all that money they would want to get some value out of it.

There’s nowt as queer as IT security folk. 

Verizon has produced an amazing report that identifies how cyber-criminals work, who they are, and even gives a glimpse into the channel structure of the IT crime industry. But sadly, they won’t let us talk about it.

Hang on, someone has some news they actually want to share. In a rare moment of clarity, Safenet has allowed us to report that its partner Senetas will be demonstrating its fibre tapping technology on the SafeNet stand.

Fibre tapping is the Next Big Thing in international sabotage. Apparently, villains scuba dive to the bottom of the sea to tap cables that are carrying thousands of volts of power. They risk life and limb just so they can cut the undersea cables used for international telecommunications.

Hang on, I thought undersea cables didn’t actually sit on the sea bed. Don’t they float, submerged, somewhere in between the sea bed and the surface? Nevertheless, I would love to see a demo of divers plunging to the seabed and cutting giant cables. If they can create that on a stand at Infosec, they can do anything. Sadly, I think what’s more likely to happen is that Senetas will show how governments and businesses protect their information from attacks like this with a high speed encryption technology. So that’s what I’ll find myself doing when I go there. Staring at pages of something that makes sense to someone, but not me.

Mind you, if you want encryption on the cheap, there are plenty of marketing executives who can render any message unreadable.

This was first published in April 2013

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