20 products, 20 years

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Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine
Peter Stephenson, technology editor, SC Magazine

Over the past 20 years, SC Magazine has had the opportunity to use, test and review hundreds of information security tools. These tools have spanned the gamut from test tools to infrastructure applications.

A lot of product has passed through my hands over my 44 years in information assurance. Some of it was open source, some was military and some was commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS). Some worked, some didn't.

 Some of these products were my personal favorites and some were suggested by other folks at SC Magazine

who, like me, have watched the past 20 years of security tool evolution with interest. What we ended up with was an interesting consensus – “interesting” because all our choices were pretty much the same. We hope that you agree with us. However, a fact that surely is agreeable by all is that during these past two decades, we have begun to see some evolution in security products, both COTS and open source. And while this article is not really a review, it does account for a representative number of the top information security products that have hit the space over these many, many years.

In fact, most of these tools have been reviewed by the SC Labs team during the past few years. For our celebratory 20th Anniversary edition, then, we decided to include a brief discussion of the 20 tools that caught our attention over these last two decades. Of necessity, there is an imbalance between the recent years and those that reach back into history given the marketplace's evolution. Still, you will find in the following pages a good mixture of some tools that are no longer available on the market in their original form – but certainly had a role in helping to direct it – and some that you may be using or might want to use now.

Beyond just a look at the standouts we've seen highlighted in SC Magazine's pages, this also is quite a bit more than mere reminiscing. We can all recall times when we have been bailed out of some tough situations by a tool or products (some vendors don't like my characterization of their product that they have spent a lot of money to positon in the marketplace as ‘tools'). And, most definitely, there have been some occasions when some solution has made our jobs a bit easier at some point during our professional careers. In addition to aiding us all – including me – in our day-to-day jobs, in some other cases for me personally, a few have led me to make new discoveries in my academic research and some have been fun to introduce to unusual venues, such as Combined Endeavor, a military interoperability exercise in which I participate annually.

So, here we go – just as long as you keep in mind that the following section is far from a list of the “best of the best” from SC Labs. These 20 alphabetically noted, indispensable solutions should (or likely already did) provide some relief. Enjoy!

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