RSA Conference 2011: Focus on Securing the Cloud and Locking down Mobile Devices

Dave Schneider
March 15, 2011

By Dave Schneider, Sr. Manager of Market Development, Ixia

Held mid-February in San Francisco, the RSA Conference main themes this year aimed squarely on handling security threats to the cloud and corporate mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. RSA CEO Art Coviello’s keynote called for “Proof not Promises” when it comes to creating the trusted cloud. Videos of Coviello’s keynote and interviews of some RSA attendees and partners taken from the show floor can be viewed here. Other hot-button topics included compliance and securing the nation's critical infrastructure.

All the usual major security vendors were there as well as the same number of small and medium-sized vendors - but with a changing set of names. Maybe this is a result of the changing security landscape: new threats, new startups to address those threats and then acquisitions that finally lead to the development of an actually coherent product.

It's surprising with all of the vendors issuing stern warnings about a myriad of horrific security breaches and selling themselves as the only solution to the problem, that there are still so few test tools. It's incomprehensible that almost everyone is still concentrating on barring the gates and not measuring how effective their measures are, much less how well their network's performance is being preserved. I talked to a number of enterprise vendors who test their network security twice a year – but only because they're required to by some regulatory authority. When pressed, they acknowledge that a lot can happen in 6 months, but then shrug.

A few leading vendors however, had the forethought to acknowledge that infrastructure test and validation is a requirement. SonicWALL had the biggest security "iron" at the show, namely the SonicWALL SuperMassive E10000 Series of Next-Generation Firewalls. Four of their boxes paired up with four of our Xcellon-Ultra XT-80's to drive 120 Gbps of traffic and it was a smoking success for all. According to John Gmuender, vice president of engineering and CTO at SonicWALL, "The SonicWALL SuperMassive E10000 Series of Next-Generation Firewalls offers previously unprecedented levels of massively multi-core architecture and granular application intelligence and control functionality. With this level of scale and performance, we require city-scale vulnerability and multiplay traffic to test them." He added, "Ixia's IxLoad-Attack product is currently the only commercial test platform that can accurately test our devices with the scale and scope that our products demand."

This was first public demonstration and unveiling of IxLoad-Attack, Ixia's network vulnerability test tool. With the industry's most comprehensive database of more than 6,000 unique attacks, IxLoad-Attack recreates malicious traffic that exploits published vulnerabilities and generates Internet-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in a controlled environment. For more specifics be sure to check out our press release.

Ixia's booth was REALLY busy. We had significant traffic from Ixia customers; both show exhibitors and attendees, as well as numerous analyst and press visitors. It was validating that they were very receptive to IxLoad-Attack. Our customers liked that it was just an additional set of plug-ins to IxLoad – making their Ixia chassis investments even more valuable. We were also able to drive home the point that virtualized data centers, cloud computing, and network infrastructures, while providing an economic means of satisfying Internet and intranet requirements, vastly increase security enforcement complexity. As a result, organizations need to verify not only the effectiveness and accuracy of security solutions, but also measure key network performance while under attack.

It was great to be able to deliver these messages that at the end of the day, will help our customers not only protect the sanctity of their network but preserve its performance and reliability as well. Ixia has signed up for a larger space next year.

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