Patent Wierdness and the Security Market


So I was doing some patent research today and I have to say that some of the patents out there for information security are pretty weird.

I found patent applications for wireless access points that turn on radio jammers in response to attacks (thus blocking even legitimate users), ethernet cables that can be colored with special markers depending on the security of the system they are attached to, a physical key-based device that controls an ethernet air-gap and even a patent application that was denied for patenting the word “security”.

I had no idea that so many things had been patented, or attempted to be patented. Maybe I am not a “patent insider” – but a lot this sounds like junk, bad infomercials and “seen on TV” security products.

I think I should find a VC and maybe patent the special “security gnomes” that some software vendors believe protect their software from well-known exploits. Or the “magic security dust” that some managers believe allows them keep their data protected without investing in any real security staff or initiatives. If those don’t work, maybe I will patent some sort of “cyber-ninja” that seeks out and destroys cross-site scripting vulnerabilities and SQL injections. Why not? It might be as effective a control as colored ethernet cables…

For a couple of years now, Allan and I have been talking about just how noisy the information security market has become. Even after a large consolidation phase, there are still a bunch of vendors, some selling solutions and some selling snake oil. The average IT manager is probably getting 10+ calls a day from vendors selling them everything from firewalls to NAC and from AV software to USB blockers. No wonder average security consumers are having so much trouble knowing the real from the hype!

I didn’t start this blog post to be a rant or anything, but the oddity of the patent searches really left me in awe. The security space is crowded, noisy and a lot like a downtown Delhi market. There are exotic spices, rarities and a number of arcane items everywhere you look. Hopefully, there are also some honest to goodness, back to basics solutions mixed in too. Your mission, should you accept it, is to sort them out…

This entry was posted in General InfoSec, Rants by Brent Huston. Bookmark the permalink.

About Brent Huston

I am the CEO of MicroSolved, Inc. and a security evangelist. I have spent the last 20+ years working to make the Internet safer for everyone on a global scale. I believe the Internet has the capability to contribute to the next great leap for mankind, and I want to help make that happen!

Leave a Reply