The Information Security Industry: $3 Billion of Snake Oil

Presented at DEF CON 13 (2005), July 30, 2005, 2 p.m. (50 minutes)

A raging fear of The Computer Evildoers has driven enterprises to the safety of the herd, buying whatever elixirs the big vendors peddle. Security consumers waste billions of dollars on ineffective (but well integrated!) solutions. However, as technology users grow more sophisticated about security threats (often learning the hard way), opportunities will surface for innovative startups to deliver effective IT survival mechanisms. This talk will review the industry's blunders, and sources of opportunity.


  • David Cowan - General Partner, Bessemer Ventures
    David joined Bessemer Venture Partners in 1992. David has since made 43 early-stage investments for Bessemer, including 19 that have gone public, and 16 that have been acquired by public companies. David initially focused on communications technology companies like Ciena, P-Com, and PSI-Net, and then internet services such as Keynote, Flycast, Hotjobs and Blue Nile. In 1995 he cofounded Verisign as a Bessemer-funded spinout of RSA, serving as VeriSign's initial Chairman and CFO. His other data security investments have included Counterpane, Cyota, Determina, eEye, Elemental Security, Finjan, ON Technology (acquired by Symantec), Postini, Qualys, Tripwire, Tumbleweed, Valicert and Worldtalk (both of which Tumbleweed acquired). David also teaches computer science at the Keys Middle School in Palo Alto. He received both his A.B. in math and computer science and his M.B.A. degrees from Harvard University.