Data Sheet—Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24, 2015, 8:04 PM UTC

Last week’s cyber edition of Fortune‘s Data Sheet newsletter gave you a glimpse into the strategic thinking going on behind the scenes at Dell—amid its pending $67 billion mega-deal of EMC—as it relates to cybersecurity. Now let’s take a look at the bid from EMC-owned RSA’s point of view. I checked in with Amit Yoran, president of RSA, the computer security division of EMC, yesterday afternoon to hear what he had to say on the matter.

RSA is perhaps best known for its computer security fobs—those random number-generating keychain tokens that one uses to log into multi-factor authentication-protected accounts. While that product might be the company’s bread and butter—indeed, the firm was named after its number-scrambling “RSA” algorithm, which in turn took its name from the code’s MIT-affiliated inventors (their initials, that is)—RSA has an entire suite of digitally defensive products.

Those other areas are where the company has set its sights in the past few years, through a series of strategic acquisitions. Yoran himself joined RSA after the company purchased his network monitoring firm NetWitness in 2011. RSA also bought Archer Technologies for governance, compliance, and risk software (2010), Silver Tail for web fraud detection (2010), and Aveksa and Symplified for digital ID management (2013 and 2014, respectively). The strategy has been part acquihire. Yoran, as well as a number of executives from those firms, have landed top leadership roles at RSA, injecting an agile startup mentality to the business, Yoran said.

“We’re making a lot of self-disruptive types of decisions,” Yoran told me on the call. For instance, he is willfully de-prioritizing RSA’s data loss prevention product, “because we don’t see it as the right way to do security in the world of advanced threats,” he said. Instead, he would prefer to focus on other technologies, like network monitoring, defense, and response. (Spoken like a true NetWitness alum.)

And that’s not all. “We’re no longer selling the world’s most popular crypto toolkit—in some ways RSA’s mainstay” he added. The reason? His team has deemed it “not well aligned” to today’s environment, fending off cyberattacks.

Much like Dell’s security chief, Yoran did not have much to add about how RSA’s strategy and offerings might mesh with Dell’s amid the titanic takeover. (You can read about the Dell side here.) Both have gobbled up diverse computer security businesses in order to build up comprehensive cyber armories. It’s anyone’s guess how they’ll fit together once their legions come under the same banner.

Since the deal will take months to officially close—a spokeswoman said, jumping in—”Right now, it’s business as usual.”

Robert Hackett


Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach me via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber, PGP encrypted email, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.


China hasn't stopped hacking U.S. businesses. Less than 24 hours after Chinese president Xi Jinping struck a deal with U.S. president Barack Obama to end economic espionage between their respective states, the American cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike said it identified a China-sponsored hacking attempt on a U.S. company. The supposed Chinese attackers appear to have conducted nearly a dozen attacks against American technology and pharmaceutical companies since. (Wall Street Journal)

CIA director's emails leak. A self-identified teenage hacker broke into the Aol email account of John Brennan, the nation's top spy chief. Among the pilfered files published by WikiLeaks are strategy documents pertaining to American foreign policy in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the personal information of Brennan, his family members, and top U.S. officials. (Fortune)

BlackBerry's new phone costs $699. The Canadian handset designer is accepting pre-orders for the Priv, it's first phone running to run Google's Android operating system. AT&T and T-Mobile are the phone's compatible wireless carriers. (Fortune)

Sony Pictures settles hacking lawsuit. The movie studio will dole out somewhere between $5.5 million and $8 million to settle the class action lawsuit over its employees' leaked data. The plaintiffs' lawyers are set land a huge portion of that sum: around $3.5 million. (The Hollywood Reporter)

HP is selling one of its computer security businesses. Amid the IT giant's impending breakup, it has decided to sell its Tipping Point network protection business to the cybersecurity firm Trend Micro for $300 million. HP also recently decided to sunset Helion, its public cloud division. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)

Thales Group buys data security company. The Florida-based computer security firm is acquiring California-based Vormetric for $400 million. The deal will boost Thales' capabilities in the encryption arena. (eWeek)

Microsoft to buy third Israeli cybersecurity firm in a year. The IT giant will buy a data security company called Secure Islands for as much as $150 million, a source tells Fortune. Meanwhile, Microsoft is dealing with the collapse a data sharing agreement between the European Union and the U.S. (Fortune)

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Fortune reporter Kia Kokalitcheva explains why Apple CEO Tim Cook and NSA director Michael Rogers aren't friends.

"Although it’s been more than two years since Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agency’s data snooping, U.S. officials and tech executives are still grappling with balancing national security and privacy. The topic came up yet again on Monday night at the Wall Street Journal’s technology conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. where Apple CEO Tim Cook followed NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers on stage. They shared contrasting views about a number of hot button issues around privacy, which have created a deep divide between Silicon Valley and the nation’s security apparatus." Read the rest on


"Pumpkin spice" security bugs. They're sugary gimmicks. (Engadget)

State-sponsored actors? Facebook's confusing new hack alert. (TechCrunch)

Dreaded adward! Did you mean "adware"? (Fortune)

"Mr. Robot" visits Uber. "Damn, I thought we got Christian Slater." (Vice Motherboard)

Password poetry. Use iambic pentamer rhymes. (Quartz)


U.S. vs. China: Who's century is it, anyway? by Alan Murray

Why investor's love Alphabet's new CFO by Erin Griffith

GE is using drones to inspect the power grid by Jonathan Vanian

Here's the reason Tesla can get away with reliability issues by Kirsten Korosec

This super-expensive drug is getting a $1 rival by Benjamin Snyder



Is your corporate board looking for cyber expertise? Then it's probably looking for a woman. As many as two thirds of the top posts go to the sex. (Bloomberg)


“We’re going dark because we have every usa agency after us ^.^”

"Cracka," the supposed 13-year-old hacker who allegedly gained access to CIA director John Brennan's personal Aol email account, conducting what might be his last interview, at least for a while. During his chat with The Daily Dot, Cracka talked trash about another hacker. He also reiterated that the attack on Brennan was motivated by activism: “It’s for FreePalestine and FreeGaza,” he said. (Daily Dot)

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