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Li-Fi fantastic – Quocirca’s Report from Infosec 2015

As with any trade show, Infosecurity Europe (the continent’s biggest IT security bash) can get a bit mind-numbing, with one vendor after another going on about the big issues of the day – advanced threat detection, threat intelligence networks, the dangers of the internet of things, and so on. They all have a different take on these topics, but they all talk the same language; it can be hard to see the wood for the trees.

It is, therefore, refreshing when you come across something completely different. So it was as I wandered among the small booths on the upper floor of Olympia. These are reserved for new innovators with their smaller marketing budgets (as well as a few old hands, who made last minute decisions to take cheap exhibition space!).

“Do you want to see something really amazing?” I was asked as I walked past the tiny stand of Edinburgh-based pureLiFi. Too rude to refuse, I agreed.

“Light does not go through walls,” I was told (and agreed), so it is a more secure way to transmit data than WiFi. I can’t argue with that. So, I was shown a streaming video being transmitted direct to a device from a light above the stand; the stream can be stopped simply by the intervention of a hand.

“Line of sight only,” I say. True, but the device was then moved across the stand to another light source, where, state aware, the streaming continued. Actually, Li-Fi is not a new concept: there is Wikipedia page on the subject and the Li-Fi Consortium was founded in 2011. However, pureLiFi seems to be the first to attempt to commercialize it.

pureLiFi was not alone in coming to Infosec with a product that is not entirely about security, but sees the show as a good place to promote its product by alluding to security specifics. Some IT industry old hands were to be seen at Infosec 2015 for the first time. For example Perforce Software, a software tool for managing software development teams, which was promoting its recently announced intellectual property (ie software) protection capabilities. Another was Bomgar, a tool for accessing and managing remote user devices that now has something to say about the secure use of privilege.

Many of the vendors might be majoring on advanced threats, but their actual or potential customers at Infosec often took the conversation elsewhere. Several moaned to Quocirca that they could still not get some of their senior managers to take security training seriously. This is a real problem, as recent Quocirca research, sponsored by Digital Guardian (an exhibitor at Infosec) shows; knowledge about data security at all levels in an organization has a big role to play in improving security confidence.

PhishMe, another exhibitor, had something to say about this too; it runs in-company campaigns to raise awareness of email and web risks. It now includes immediate micro-training modules (one minute or less) for any employee that gets taken in by a test email scam. It hopes even the most red-faced business manager will take the time to view these.

The overall size of Infosec 2015, compared to when the show started 20 years ago, is bewildering. And that is without some of the biggest names taking high-profile stand space: little sign of Symantec, Intel Security (aka McAfee), Microsoft, HP or IBM. However, no visitor should have gone away without new insight and ideas. The global stars of information security dominated the central space, including Trend Micro, FireEye, Palo Alto Networks and ForeScout. They were joined by other innovators from around the world, from China and Australia and every corner of Europe and the UK. Infosecurity Europe highlights not just the challenge of IT security but the central role security now plays in every aspect of IT.

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