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Symantec CEO talks ID management, the future

A future goal for the security industry is to be become content aware, says John Thompson, chief executive of Symantec.

Predicting the future for technology and business is never easy, yet Symantec CEO John Thompson ventured into that Tuesday morning in his keynote speech at RSA 2008.

On the future, Thompson predicted three things: that malicious software will outnumber legitimate software, increasing the need for so-called white listing; that identity management will grow beyond the enterprise and start to include every customer in the world; and digital rights management will be become a reality for all content, not just music and video.

Symantec CEO John Thompson takes the stage at RSA 2008. Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

He said businesses need to start thinking about these things now. "I believe this starts with a fundamental shift toward an information-centric view of security," he said. He described this information-centric view of security as taking a risk-based approach to protecting confidential information. Instead of securing all the data, secure only the most important data, he said, adding, "Once you gain insight into how your information is being used, you can begin to set policies that help you mitigate your risks."

Thompson mentioned the growth of mobile devices and stressed the need to become content aware, that just guarding the corporate perimeter isn't enough anymore.

"Ultimately," Thompson concluded, "the work of protecting business information is everybody's job--not just IT's. It's a challenge all of us must tackle in order for our businesses to thrive--to become more agile and high-performing--and to realize the full promise of the connected world."