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January 2002

Security product marketing: Separating hype from reality

Radio personality Garrison Keillor always ends his fictional newscasts with the impossibly optimistic "and that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average." It's a cute piece of fiction that encapsulates an important lesson in unrealistic expectations. Hype is ingrained in today's culture, and too many infosec vendors are guilty of the "Wobegon Syndrome." They pander to unrealistic user requirements and make outlandish claims about their solutions. The concept that a product can only succeed if it's perceived as "best in class" creates a ludicrous situation in which virtually every high-tech product and service claims that it's "the leader." The British company GFi claims to be a "leading e-mail and network security provider," but they distribute through Tucows. Certificate authority GlobalSign describes itself as "a leading trust services provider for Internet-based transactions," a typically obtuse abstraction for a firm in an overcrowded ...

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