IT security industry gathers at RSA Conference 2007

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IT security industry gathers at RSA Conference 2007

Security professionals from around the globe gathered in San Francisco today to kick off RSA Conference 2007.

In its 16th year, the RSA Conference has become the largest IT security conference in the world. This year’s events will feature 220 sessions over 19 tracks, with keynote speeches from luminaries such as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and former National Security Adviser and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell.

However, much of the action will occur on the exhibition floor and at dozens of parties and dinners held nearby.

Most industry figures use the conference as an opportunity to puzzle over problems with their peers and cut deals over drinks.

Analysts say that one of the biggest problems the IT security industry will be facing, and which is most likely to generate buzz at the conference, is the maturation of the underground economy developed by hackers and identity thieves.

According to Andrew Jaquith of Yankee Group, these thieves are overwhelming the security software industry with sneaky attacks and thousands of variations of viruses that are able to remain undetected by antivirus signatures.

"There is a full-on supply chain," said Andrew Jaquith of Yankee Group. "They are attacking the weak knee on the quarterback that is the security software industry."

Jaquith also said that this year’s RSA Conference will be a means for many smaller companies to shop their businesses to larger businesses looking for acquisitions. According to him, the industry is on the cusp of a shakeout.

"I think we’ll get a hint of the scent of blood in the air," he said.

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