Network forensics gets a 'Minority Report'-style UI

A network security traffic analysis tool, sporting a wicked UI, heralds a new era of easy cyber forensics

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This isn't about tooting NetWitness's horn. The gee-whiz stuff in the company's promo video disguises an awful lot of customization and integration work on the back end that requires a subtle understanding of networking. With prices starting at around $200,000, this is software and hardware for government agencies and large, wealthy companies facing sophisticated threats -- not gear you're gonna buy at Fry's any time soon. Besides, NetWitness isn't alone in this game. Other vendors offer similar types of capabilities, or they will soon.

But I think you can look at Visualize and, well, visualize a future in which specialized skills like network forensics and cyber investigation are just a lot less specialized (and less expensive) -- and that's a good thing. This, of course, shouldn't surprise anyone. We all know that technology has a tendency to democratize what had previously been specialized skills. I spent two years in high school learning darkroom techniques such as film development and dodging and burning. Now anyone who can punch in a license key and navigate a drop-down menu on Photoshop or GIMP can perform those tasks with far better accuracy than I ever could.

So too in the world of software development -- as we recently noted, new business process modeling and application development tools have lowered the bar for those wishing to join the ranks of developers, as well as lowered the premium for college-trained computer science majors. Tools like Visualize transform tasks that once demanded rarified skills into something almost any intellgent person can accomplish. The larger question is whether that will correlate to an improvement in the security of public and private organizations. The jury is still out on that matter.

This article, "Network forensics gets a 'Minority Report'-style UI," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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