Individual Standards like Oxymorons

The maze of security companies and security widgets just got smaller, or did it?

What was considered a dozen years ago as a fait accompli, a security business standard, is now a full blown cold war with Red Queens on treadmills trying to keep consumer confidence cranking.

If there is a strategic plan for getting our arms around a secure Internet, it’s a bloody damn secret; Washington is probably the biggest danger we face.

While the bandits are surly, and often out in the open, the Internet safeguards are muddled and marginalized.

Articles appear routinely labeling our friends, and trading partners, from China or Russia as responsible for everything from SPAM or espionage or hacking.

It’s a different universe apparently.

Hail to the chief.

If you happen to run a transactional content business over the Internet, you are no doubt wondering what in the hell to do to keep the wolves at bay;  If you are paying to maintain ecommerce inventory, you must be shuddering.  Even Jeff Bezos and Ebay have no idea what horse to bet on in this race.

The rundown on the consolidation chess match for a few of the Internet security giants began earlier this spring with Symantec’s acquisition of the ubiquitous VeriSign brand.  Then the news this week from the NY Times, and it goes something  like this “Intel’s fortunes are tied to PCs and the computer servers that go into data centers. As such, Intel, with revenue of $35.1 billion in 2009, goes through boom-and-bust cycles as demand waxes and wanes. McAfee, with revenue of $1.93 billion last year, sells a great deal of software on a subscription basis, which can smooth out financial results from quarter to quarter and year to year.”  That formidable quarterly report just got juiced by a little high margin commodity dollars.

McAfee has 17.7 percent of the market for securing computing devices, trailing the market leader Symantec, which has 36.2 percent, according to the research firm IDC. In the last couple of years, McAfee has gained ground on Symantec by signing a large number of deals with PC makers and Internet service providers to offer its security software to consumers and workers.”

“Intel already builds a number of security hooks into its chips. These tools can help block malicious software from disrupting a computer or give a technician the ability to fix a computer from a remote location. The purchase of McAfee would give Intel access to more security specialists and the ability to hardwire more of these types of tools into its chips.”

Embedding security riders on chips may be an efficient way to secure desktops, maybe even enterprises, but will undoubtedly run into problems hooking mobile devices up with foreign service networks and other devices.  On the surface, the strategy sounds more brittle.  As long as you are NOT after the “world-wide” web, you’re probably just fine.  Traveling in and out of foreign or international networks, sounds challenging.  Security bridges are antithetical to a free Internet.

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White Paper: Scale-out NAS Unifies the Technical Enterprise
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“Eventually the software features will get embedded in the hardware,” said Ashok Kumar, a technology analyst with Rodman & Renshaw. “So maybe this is an expensive way for Intel to acquire domain expertise.”

Didn’t another giant have a problem with embedding stuff in their system? I think it was an operating system and a browser with a deadbolt on so you could not uninstall it.  But desktops aren’t the battleground these days as the Wall Streeters know the big bucks are in the handhelds and distribution.  I don’t see why Intel just didn’t buy Research In Motion and AT&T?

Deconstructing further, I translate “domain expertise” here to mean ritualized revenue from licenses or ecommerce transactions.  Another toll booth, in other words.  They all want their vigorish.  If the consumer isn’t ready to puke at the sound of the word “subscription” yet, give it a minute.  Maybe they will get some smart marketing guys to sit down with the engineers and figure a way to keep it seamless?  Nah.

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