An Insider’s Perspective on McAfee FOCUS ‘12

By Chris Cullison ·

I recently had the pleasure of attending my third McAfee security conference, Focus 12. Accuvant participates in this annual event because we are a McAfee partner, but also because of the quality sessions and discussions. I’d like to share a few observations that made the 2012 event particularly interesting for me.

Overall, attendees this year seemed more engaged with exhibitors and even each other compared to past FOCUS events or other industry conferences. Many of our partners agreed with our observation that there were long lines surrounding many booths and our feeling of an increased level of interest in security issues and trends.

When speaking with attendees at FOCUS 12, they discussed security challenges that many of our clients approach us about on a regular basis. Mobile security and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) continue to be the hot trends that organizations large and small are facing. Connectivity and interoperability were common themes of the executive keynotes as well as a topic we heard from partners and clients. The security options to address these issues are always evolving, and the need for cutting-edge solutions to interact with existing investments is the stark reality.

However, we also heard at the event that the foundations of cyber security still stand strong—reaffirming what we believe to be true from our own experience and expertise. Intrusion prevention/detection, risk and compliance, proactive and reactive systems, reporting and analysis, and assessment and remediation continue to be recurring themes year after year and still require specific expertise to address. While the scope is typically dynamic (i.e., cloud, clientless devices, etc.), the needs and concerns still resonate the same.

One unique aspect of this year’s FOCUS event for our team was receiving an increased request for managed services. More attendees than ever approached our security experts for details on how we can help them manage their environments. Perhaps this a sign of an increasing trend toward organizations realizing the value of having a dedicated security partner to help them ensure their IT networks and confidential data are secure. Only time will tell.

One last observation I made at FOCUS 12 was that many of the attendees seemed to share my sentiment on President George W. Bush’s keynote presentation – that it was a fun and unforgettable experience. While at a security conference, I usually expect keynotes to be canned speeches about the threats we face and the role that security professionals play in addressing them. I have heard several speeches from current and past government officials that took this tone, and I was prepared for the same from President Bush. Instead, we were presented with a very candid, relaxed, non-political, humorous, and touching conversation with the former president. With a pending election and the polarizing tone party politics usually takes, that direction was largely left out, and when included, was far from judgmental. And if there was one clear message from the former president to us as security professionals, it was that WE are the experts, and that the politicians of the world should be listening to us and not vice-versa.