Back in the heady days of my youth, when I drove a Honda Civic with around 230,000 miles on the odometer and plenty of rust everywhere else, I was happy to let just about anyone borrow it. But now that I've upgraded to a car worth more than the gas in its tank, I'm less eager to loan it out. This is context-based reasoning, and it applies to a lot more than cars. In fact, it's the sort of logic that could define the future of IT security, according to BeyondTrust, which has released new tools that decide how much access to provide users based on the risk associated with particular systems.

BeyondTrust unveiled the technology as part of the version 6.0 release of its PowerBroker for Windows software. The platform itself manages user privileges for Windows desktops, with the goal of mitigating risks by implementing "least privilege" policies, meaning that users can access what they need and nothing more.

As part of the latest PowerBroker release, administrators can combine data from another BeyondTrust product, Retina CS Threat Management Console, which evaluates the risk of individual systems based on their exposure to potential threats and their importance to business continuity. The company is billing the integration of privilege management and vulnerability assessment via these two tools as an industry-first that could provide the foundation for new security strategies.

This is also a smart move for BeyondTrust in that will help it to integrate its own product line. Even as the company remains engaged with the rest of the channel, encouraging customers to combine some of its own solutions to derive greater value will likely help to consolidate the expansive and diverse technology portfolio of the well-established security vendor, which is now more than 25 years old.

At the same time, beyond combining privilege management and risk assessment resources, the latest PowerBroker release also introduces other features that might prove attractive to the channel. These include file integrity monitoring for controlling which users and applications can modify files and directories, support for recording user activity on a per-application basis and—for whatever it's worth to you Windows 8 fans out there (you do exist somewhere, right?)—a revamped interface consistent with Microsoft's "metro" theme.

For the channel, the big-ticket item to watch going forward is "context-awareness," which could become a crucial new part of the security equation for a variety of scenarios—as well as for deciding who gets to drive my car.