BSidesSF: AlienVault CTO Roger Thornton on Network Visibility

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roger Thornton is the Chief Technical Officer at security provider AlienVault, a principle sponsor of the Security BSides San Francisco event.

Roger took a few minutes to discuss the need for organizations to reduce the overall cost of network security visibility. He believes that technology is not the problem, but instead it is the time, money and staff needed for effective and meaningful visibility.


Roger’s career has been dedicated to the development of technology and new business ventures based on technical innovation. Over 25 years in the Silicon Valley and abroad, he has driven the formation and growth of dozens of new companies and hundreds of products; serving in a wide range of roles from engineering, marketing, management and investor/advisor.

In 2002, Roger founded Fortify Software, convinced that information security required a fundamental shift in thinking – from a focus on the perimeter to a focus on the core – the software code itself. Incubated with acclaimed venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and recognized by Business 2.0 magazine as one of the Valley’s “Smartest Start-Ups”, Fortify represented a return, after the dotcom era, to the “old-school” style of classic Silicon Valley startup.

Roger’s passion and vision for software security was a catalyst that continues to shape the software security market and was the driving force behind Fortify’s global leadership.

Now, after 10 years of working with many of the world’s most advanced security organizations at Fortify, Roger is once again convinced that security needs another shift. It is time to bring down for once and for all the old approach of panic driven technology purchases, fueled by the latest news headlines, and vendor promises that if you just bought their gadget, you will “be secure”.

Security must become more rational, risk-based, effective and accountable. More importantly, this approach must become more accessible and not just the purview of the global banks and government agencies.

A new approach is needed – one where companies can answer key questions before rushing to spend: “Have I been hacked?” (or better yet, “Am I about to be hacked”), “What is the root cause?” and “How do I fix it?”. When he realized, that was what AlienVault was all about, he joined the team, determined to lead another successful shift in the security industry, centered on visibility, vigilance and practical risk management.

Roger earned his BS and MS degrees in Engineering with honors at San Jose State University. Roger continues his advisory work with select venture capital firms and start-up companies around the globe. He also regularly provides counsel and advice to corporate executives and government leaders on the topics of cyber-security policy and emerging trends.

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