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RSA hears from ex-MI5 boss

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The sixth annual RSA Security conference was opened by the disturbing sight of David Taylor dressed in a grey, silk dressing gown brandishing a long cigarette-holder like a hirsute Noel Coward. Fortunately the business leader was not reprising the title of his book – The Naked Leader – but opening the Prohibition-themed conference. Taylor outlined the role of Elisabeth Smith Friedman's successful code-breaking in catching rum runners during the Prohibition era.

Dame Stella Rimington, the former director-general of MI5, spoke next on the role of government and business in countering terrorism. She said that new technologies like encryption offer both an advantage and disadvantage to security services. She stressed the importance of balancing civil rights with robust anti-terror laws. Talking about MI5 and the Cold War she recommended John Le Carre’s Smiley’s People as an accurate description of “tradecraft”.

The final keynote speech of the first day was from Art Coviello, RSA Security's CEO. He said business must make security a boardroom level issue and called on industry sectors to establish specific best practice guidelines. He called on security vendors to ensure their products did not impede access to services but made access easier.

RSA announced new provisioning partnerships with Microsoft, Sun, Courion and M-Tech. Details here.

RSA Security also released financial results today with revenues for the third quarter ended 30 September expected to hit $76m and earnings per share of $.20 to $.22.

The company announced the departure of head of international sales Mark Reeves and Scott Schnell, formerly head of worldwide sales and marketing. Jim Bandanza has been promoted to vice president of worldwide sales and Richard Turner takes responsibility for sales in EMEA and Asia Pacific. ®

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