Forrester: Security firms thrive after attacks

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York and near Washington, D.C., security companies such as IBM Corp., RSA Security Inc. and Counterpane Internet Security Inc. will have "more business than they can handle," according to a brief written by Forrester Research Inc. analyst Carl D. Howe and posted on Forrester's Web site.

Among other predictions, Howe also forecast that "every organization will now start to take security more seriously."

Security companies, especially some of those named in Howe's brief, aren't so sure about Howe's predictive abilities, though, and reacted in different ways.

"My reaction is 'who knows'," said Bruce Schneier, computer security expert and founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane.

"We're not going to change our business strategy based on this," he said, adding "nothing has changed as of Tuesday (regarding Counterpane's business model and plans) as far as I'm concerned."

Schneier was unsure whether Tuesday's attacks would actually cause people and companies to take security more seriously.

"Security was, is and will continue to be important. If this event turns out to be a wake-up call for organizations to take security seriously, that would be good," he said, adding that it would have been better to receive a less catastrophic wake-up call.

"Sometimes it does take horrible things," he said.

It will likely be a week or more before Counterpane is able to say that the attacks have had any impact on business, Schneier said.

RSA Security, another company mentioned by Howe, took a more cautious approach.

"It's too soon, and inappropriate, for us to make any comments like those at this point," said Tim Powers, spokesman for RSA.

In addition to his comments about security companies, Forrester's Howe also wrote that the attacks would lead to "a lot less privacy."

"Surveillance and personal interrogation that used to be considered an invasion of privacy will now be accepted to guarantee national security," he wrote.

Counterpane's Schneier thinks this is probably true and also expects that there will be calls to weaken cryptography.

Weakened cryptography "will hurt more than it helps," he said adding that "we need to engage in intelligent debate on the pros and cons of different security infrastructures."

"There aren't going to be easy answers. And the quick (answers) are likely to be wrong," he said.

"If America loses freedom and liberty as a result, (the terrorists have) won," he said. "And that's my fear."

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