The annual pilgrimage of cyber security professionals to the streets of San Francisco is once again upon us. To say the RSA Conference has grown over the 28 years is as understated as saying Fortnite has caught on as a popular game. This thing is huge and is getting bigger every year. It’s evolved from a place to discuss a Data Encryption Standard (DES), to THE place to be if you are a builder, buyer or practitioner of all things cyber.
If you’ve not been here before, bring your walking shoes and prepare for four distinct and separate facets of the week. The biggest draw are the expo floors, where vendors from concept to colossal vie for your attention with every come-on imaginable, often making the show sound like a convention for carnival barkers.
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I like to start where much of tomorrow’s security is on display, in the little 10×10 booths on the back sides of the expo floors. These booths are without the glitz and sizzle, and tend to give away hard candy in a bowl like my great aunt Ida used to have on her coffee table instead of expensive lightsabers or Fortnight masks. But this is where much of tomorrow’s security innovation lies – startups that have maxed out their meagre marketing budgets for a chance to hook that ‘one in 50,000’ visitor that can launch them to stardom. Take a stroll down these back-expo alleys and be on the lookout for early stage offerings, including vendors showing Zero Trust, micro-segmentation, artificial intelligence-based security, and biometric identities, as these and other emerging areas tend to dominate the edges of RSA.
The next facet of the event is the actual conference itself. It’s wildly diverse, and your time is best planned with the free event app. So much simultaneous content, you will have to make tradeoffs to ensure you get what you paid for. Note that these talks are spread out across the multiple buildings (know your compass points, as buildings have the same names but different cardinal directions), but are worth the high cost of the ticket. I’m looking forward to hearing the new CISA Director Chris Krebs talk about critical infrastructure protection, seeing Whit Diffie and Ron Rivest (the R in RSA) on the same crypto panel, listening to all the industry CEO and government executive keynotes on their strategies, and, of course, Unisys’ own chief privacy officer Michelle Beistle talk on winning security as an organisation.
In addition to the expo and the conference talks, there are two other equally important facets to RSA – the business meetings in every nook and cranny of nearby hotel space, and of course the parties that are headlined by top musicians, actors, social stars, and leading cyber lights. There will be more to come of these two facets as the week rolls out, but they are not to be missed. Finally, if the weather clears by the end of the week (it’s raining now), grab some friends and Lyft over to the Golden Gate Bridge for a healthy walk across. It’s a great way to cap off your week, clear your head, focus your thoughts, and expand your horizons. Feel free to stop by my Unisys booth in the North Expo Hall and say hi, and have a great week!
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomtalks.
Next up: Who Said What at RSA ‘19