Todd Morneau RSA and Paul Roberts Security Ledger

RSA Labs: cloud, microservices, mobility shift terrain for security providers

In this exclusive interview from April, the head of RSA Labs* says that keeping up with bad guys is only half the job. Security firms also need to work hard to stay relevant as trends like cloud adoption, containerization, microservices and mobility shift the ground under information security providers.

It is common knowledge in the security space that the bad guys – hackers, cyber criminals, nation-state actors – are early adopters of technology and among the most nimble of adversaries. That has always provided an impetus to security companies to continue evolving their technology and even their mission. Job #1: keep up with – if not one step ahead of – the crooks.

But increasingly, security researchers find themselves battling on two fronts: staying ahead of the bad guys, and staying upright on a rapidly shifting terrain, as the embrace of cloud computing, microservice architectures and mobility transform the way companies conduct their business.

That was the message from Todd Morneau, the Principal Technologist at RSA Labs, that company’s research arm. The Labs’ job is to stay on top of what’s next in security and make sure that RSA Corp. is positioned to meet the needs of its customers today -and in the future.

That’s not an easy task, Morneau told me in an interview on the floor of the recent RSA Security Conference. For example: the growing use of container technology like Kubernetes challenges the ability of legacy security tools to monitor the behavior and state of critical IT assets.

[See also: Where to find Security Ledger at The RSA Conference]

“It’s definitely a paradigm shift,” Morneau said. “It forces us to adapt to these new environments and maintain visibility and digest new pieces of information we’re getting,” he said.

In some cases, containers make things easier. For example, security tools like endpoint protection suites, network- or host intrusion detection technology have historically had to monitor physical IT assets: often multi-purpose laptops, desktops and servers that could run scores of different applications. The shift to containers and microservices means a particular application can run in isolation, simplifying the job of monitoring it, Morneau said.

Todd Morneau RSA and Paul Roberts Security Ledger
Security Ledger interviews Todd Morneau, head of RSA Labs on the floor of RSA. Click the image to view the full interview!

However, containers also introduce new challenges. “People want to be able to rapidly deploy, tear down and reboot an entire service at a whim,” he said. “As they’re moving their services to the cloud, they want to be able to do that – faster than if it were on premises. As they do that we have to be able to keep up with that and have a story for them,” he said.

Providing firms like RSA can navigate the rapid change, the future looks bright. Internet of Things adoption in both the home and workplace as well as the migration of industries like manufacturing and other operational environments to the Internet creates huge opportunities for companies like RSA.

“RSA needs to be aware of all these trends,” Morneau said. It also needs to be willing and able to broaden its message for both IT and operational environments. “We need to have a story and an answer for them that provides the same level of security and threat detection across whatever platforms are coming into their environment and whatever future they envision.”

Check out the video clip to hear our full conversation from the recent RSA Conference!

(*) Disclosure: Security Ledger’s coverage of RSA Conference was sponsored by the following organizations: RSA Security (a division of Dell), LookingGlass Cyber SolutionsQualys Inc., Pulse Secure Inc., DigiCert Inc., and Keysite Technologies. For more information on how Security Ledger works with its sponsors and sponsored content on Security Ledger, check out our About Security Ledger page on sponsorships and sponsor relations.