​A Word About Competition in the Information Security Industry

The devices, networks, and social institutions we use today are only useful because, on the whole, most people largely trust them. If this trust gets eroded, people will not make use of them. It took me many years of working at Nokia to realize that regardless of what I do in life, I am always going to be looking for ways to improve the security with the ultimate goal of maintaining that trust.

As a company, Check Point firmly believes customers deserve the best security for their digital information. That, plus my long-time history with Check Point was why I ultimately decided to go work for Check Point when they acquired Nokia’s Security Appliance Business back in 2009. The talented, smart people I work with day-in and day-out working toward the same goal is why I’m still here even as a few of my friends recently left, for example Kellman.

That said, you may have noticed in my social media feeds that I’ve spent a little bit of time talking about Check Point’s competition. This is no accident as I see a lot of nonsense out there. I will admit to using my small platform to bring facts, understanding, and details to light, much as I did with my FireWall-1 FAQ back in the day.

To be clear, I think healthy competition is a good thing. It raises all boats, regardless of who you ultimately use. Despite our differences in approach, all infosec competition has a common enemy: the malicious actors who attempt to penetrate and disrupt our customers networks. We would do better as an industry to remember that and work better together toward defeating that common enemy.

Despite that common goal, everyone who works for a security vendor wants to succeed over the competition. As part of that competition, every vendor also puts out information that puts their offering in the best light, such as Check Point’s recent Facts vs. Hype campaign. Sometimes, that has the impact of throwing a bit of shade, perhaps 50 shades or so. This is all part of normal, healthy competition that happens in any industry.

With Palo Alto Networks, however, it’s clearly different. Nir Zuk, the co-founder of Palo Alto Networks, drives a car with the license plate CHKPKLR. This was widely known since at least 2005 and a picture of said license plate was featured prominently at their recent Sales Kick Off:

The guy up on stage? Their CEO Mark McLaughlin, propagating the “Check Point Killer” message to the assembled masses.

Over the years, I’ve heard countless stories of how Nir Zuk would come in to talk to a customer and spend a significant amount of time talking about Check Point, to the point where he was thrown out of at least one customer meeting! Given how some customers feel about Check Point, I’m sure that tactic did help to drive some sales.

The guy on stage here? Palo Alto Networks CMO Rene Bonvanie.

It’s clear hatred of Check Point is institutionalized at Palo Alto Networks, and it comes straight from the top. It makes me question what business they are truly in. If paloaltonetworks.security doesn’t even resolve to their own website, it must not be the security business.

Disclaimer: My blog, my personal opinions. I’m sure you knew that.

Originally published at phoneboy.org on September 1, 2016.

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