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May 2003

Buying IT security products? Learn to recognize vendor hype

Caveat emptor. Those "nice guys" who took you to dinner last week and sent you an Eddie Bauer windbreaker may not be acting in your interest after all. Better you discover that now than after you've plunked down $100,000 for their firewall. Not all infosec vendors are charlatans and snake oil salesmen. But how do you spot those who are? Here are some common scenarios and practical tips. Purposeful Ambiguity Vendors love to tout how their new technology is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Boisterous claims are often a sign of immature technology or ambiguously defined solutions. Those solutions are often explained with fashionable security terms in marketing brochures--intrusion detection, cybervaults, digital rights management, behavior-based anything, etc. "Terms get co-opted, and people will use buzzwords that don't actually reflect what the product does," says Paul Proctor, president of Practical Security. Probably the fuzziest term in infosec today is "intrusion prevention." Billed as the proactive alternative to ...

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