Nimbus Ninety Converge: RSA chief talks cyber espionage, risk assessment, and the "human firewall"

"All the rules have changed," commented Wired magazine editor David Rowan as he kicked off the Nimbus Ninety Converge, an exclusive information sharing event for C-level executives and other senior decision makers held at London's Science Museum.

As one of the Converge's preferred media partners, ITProPortal enjoyed privileged access to the evening, which focused on key enterprise topics like the future of cloud collaboration and extracting value from big data.

Yet it was arguably the observations of RSA Chief Security Architect Rashmi Knowles that really grabbed our attention last night. Railing against the ageing, reactive state of contemporary IT security, Knowles opined on some home truths that enterprise leaders will no doubt be keen to acknowledge.

"The tools that we have today – they're the tools we've always had. We do risk assessment very badly. We have very flat networks, because they're easy to administrate," she said.

"Security isn't working. The reality is we're still being compromised. Something has got to change."

Like the nascent technologies helping to shape the future - real-time translation, augmented reality, and 3D printing were all popular reference points during Converge - Knowles warned that security threats were a constantly evolving phenomenon capable of their own exponential growth.

"The criminals are moving their business. We used to see credit card fraud [but] there's no money left in that. [Now] we see bigger threats from nation-states - where there is more money - stealing things like intellectual property. [It's] moving from petty criminals to advanced threats," she noted.

Threat management, perimeter protection, and compliance were some of the key areas for decision-makers to assess going forward, Knowles concluded, but it was ultimately people - the "human firewall" - that represented IT departments' most valuable, and under-appreciated, asset.

Again, Rowan's opening comments sprung to mind and should provide enterprise leaders with some final food for thought.

"Disrupt yourself before somebody else does," the Wired man remarked at the start of the evening.