In late December 2011, McAfee released its predictions for the major cyber threats of 2012. The company identified trends in cyber warfare, legal spam, mobile hacking and other activity to formulate its forecast.
Speaking with ExecutiveBiz, Ken Kartsen, McAfee’s vice president of federal sales, indicated he believes the increasing prevalence of mobile devices at home and in the workplace will be the most be the most disruptive trend for cyber defenses in upcoming years.
Kartsen also said that while security solutions for private and public sector customers differ, all solutions need to ensure the customer never lets its guard down.
ExecutiveBiz: Having recently joined McAfee“™s leadership team, could you describe some of the duties that your position requires of you?
Ken Kartsen: I joined McAfee about eight months ago now. Coming to McAfee was an opportunity I couldn“™t resist. McAfee is the largest sole provider of security in the world.
I have a very solid background in security, about 12 years in the market. I was at Internet Security Systems and at Palo Alto Networks for just about all of that time where I managed and grew the federal business.
From a McAfee perspective, leading in the federal space is similar to our overall mission. The challenge really isn“™t about growing the business but about always providing even more value to our customers. We do this through our current offering of market leading solutions, a solid partnership with Intel which allows us to develop solutions that can protect at the chip level, and a team based approach to serving federal clients.
Our people are truly dedicated to our federal customers. Our largest goal is allowing these customers to really leverage all relevant McAfee solutions, such as NitroSecurity, a newly acquired security information management tool which uses a patented database engine to identify, correlate, and remediate threats faster than any other technology on the market.
We“™ve also been delivering on private cloud initiatives using our Global Threat Intelligence or GTI, which offers the most comprehensive threat intelligence in the market, with visibility across all threat vectors “” file, web, message, and network, this solution protects users from endpoint to network to gateway. We“™ve been hitting the market pretty hard with our Web gateway capabilities and we recently introduced a lot of new features and functionality that integrate with our cloud.
ExecutiveBiz: McAfee released predictions for the coming year and some of those regarded hackers, mobility and the cloud. What are the key concerns in those trend areas?
Ken Kartsen: Mobility is probably one of the most prolific areas, considering the number of devices that are increasingly hitting the marketplace. You“™ve got all kinds of Android devices, iPhones and iPads. The ability to manipulate these types of devices and compromise them through a malicious application is pretty extreme and looms large.
We“™ve been very successful over the past year, aggressively securing a large amount of market share in mobile solutions. Our Enterprise Mobility Management product, for example, brings three distinct security components together. If you look at what you“™re trying to accomplish on this type of platform, you want to scan for viruses to protect against malicious files, containerize or have the ability to separate things like e-mail and secure applications, and most important is your ability to actually manage the device. Enterprise Mobility Management does each of these things.
ExecutiveBiz: How do the solutions you have to offer for the public customer differ from those for the private sector customer?
Ken Kartsen: There are expected budget cuts starting to impact the federal government right now, and the same is true in state and local environments. With these deep cuts and the limited ability for government to spend, they have been leveraging more and more remote solutions, trying to increase their capacity and gain more efficiencies. Therefore the ability to secure these types of devices is even more important.
When you look at what we developed for the public sector versus what we developed for the private sector, there are a lot of unique capabilities that we“™ve been built for our intelligence and defense customers that specifically cater to our ability to deliver solutions on secure platforms. Our ability to deliver things like GTI, for example, not just in a public cloud setting but also in a private cloud setting is far more strategic for our government partners.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything that you see as the next big thing people should be looking out for?
Ken Kartsen: Mobility is the most obvious, it“™s been slowly gaining more traction over the last several years and I think it“™s going to be even larger as we move into the middle part of this decade.
Theft of intellectual property or IP, whether it“™s the government“™s or private sector“™s, is another thing to look out for. Our foreign adversaries have the desire and the capability to try to gain a lot of that IP, which creates a distinct vulnerability inside many of our government and private sector environments. It“™s also one of the largest areas for the U.S. as far as our economic future, if we let our guard down for a minute and allow our IP be manipulated by our foreign adversaries it will negatively impact the US“™ global financial position.
ExecutiveBiz: Government agencies have been talking about allowing employees to bring their own device. Are there any steps that need to take place in order to make it a real possibility?
Ken Kartsen: I do think it can be done and done safely. The ability to utilize your home device at work increases efficiency and also cuts costs, both of which are very important in the fiscal environment that we“™re in today.
Keep in mind that bringing your home devices into the workplace is not first-nature to companies or to the public sector. When you consider allowing the multitude of these devices, those Droids and iPhones and iPads, it“™s extremely important not to just secure those devices, but to also manage those devices. That“™s where our Enterprise Mobility Management solution distinctly comes back into play, providing the ability to control, manage and protect those devices.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there any project or solution that McAfee is working on for the public sector right now that you“™re particularly excited about?
Ken Kartsen: Our ability to deliver real-time and near real-time security information within our public cloud is one of the most important assets that McAfee has. It“™s one of our most important differentiators in the marketplace. What we“™re able to do with that in a private cloud setting is extremely exciting from a public and/or private sector perspective.
Our ability to provide protection from advanced persistent threats or APTs, some of the partnerships that we“™ve been able to align with, such as SAIC CloudShield, and our ability to deliver protection in an APT solution on a secure encrypted platform are all huge.
ExecutiveBiz: You see partnerships with SAIC as something that the company will continue to do in the future?
Ken Kartsen: We“™ve continued to invest resources in partnerships that we think allow our customers to better leverage our solutions. Whether it“™s CloudShield, Crossbeam which is another, or the other relationships that we have, we continue to make smart investments that benefit our customers.
McAfee takes a lot of pride in the large role we have and strive continuously to deliver on the value each and every customer expects from us.