Of special interest was Microsoft's security briefing, with representatives demonstrating aspects from the (delayed) SP2 for Windows XP. Bits like ad-blocking for IE, catching up with something other browsers have had for years. Better late than never and it will certainly be welcomed by users.
Discussion centred on the new firewall component. I have tried it and it works well. Well enough that I do not agree that it will somehow not crush desktop firewall software from other vendors unless they come up with something new. Curiously, Microsoft has not polled users to see how many will instinctively click "unblock" every time the firewall dialogue appears. This is, after all, meant to protect users who still open "I love you" email.
And of course, with Infosec comes SC's own annual awards ceremony. There were some interesting results in the Reader Trust awards this year – these awards receive votes online from happy customers rather than being decided by our panel of independent judges. With certain big vendors a bit surprised at the winners of some voted awards, I can only observe that some very focused firms are doing a good job of growing an active base of users who are willing to stand up and be counted. You don't have to be huge to be popular, and lots of content customers might make less noise than a relatively small number of delighted ones.
All finalists deserve congratulations alongside the winners. Some of the Judges' Awards proved extremely difficult to decide. Some of the awards were so close that until the final stages of planning the event, the judges were deadlocked and unable to choose between the final contenders, so competitive were their solutions.
That marks a maturity in technology which we are seeing across many sectors of information security. Gartner recently published a Magic Quadrant for the SSL VPN space. From being a specialist niche a couple of years ago, there are now more than 15 vendors in contention. There are some small players mixed in the giants like Cisco, Nortel and NetScreen (now Juniper), but this is an industry where small players have been known to make waves.
Consolidation is bound to ensue (or simply attrition) as the market separates wheat from chaff, but both the proliferation of vendors exploring the space and the likelihood of acquisition are signs of a healthy, growing space. See you at Infosec next year.