I was recently very fortunate to attend the biggest cybersecurity conference of its kind, the 27th annual RSA Conference (RSAC) in San Francisco, USA. The first thing that struck me when I arrived at registration was the scale of the event. Spread across three huge conference venues in the center of the city, it was clear that they were preparing for a lot of people – more than 50,000 attendees, it turns out, with a choice of more than 500 different sessions and an expo housed across the venues filled with more than 650 exhibitors from 27 different countries.
The theme for RSAC 2018 was “Now Matters,” based on the recognition that with cyber threats looming larger than ever, finding solutions cannot wait till tomorrow. No surprise, then, that the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) were hot topics this year, as well as blockchain and GDPR.
The program was packed, starting over the weekend with training courses from ISACA, SANS, (ISC)2 and CSA. Monday comprised full and half-day seminars covering security foundations, ransomware and destructive attacks, GDPR, blockchain and bitcoin, cloud security, and security diversity. The opening keynote was on Tuesday morning, followed by 16 further keynote sessions over the next four days that included more than 30 keynote speakers and panelists. Tuesday also was the start of the 500-plus educational sessions running through to midday on Friday, including an ISACA and CMMI panel addressing cyber maturity and readiness.
The program also covered many side events, including one in which the top 10 finalists in the RSAC Innovation Sandbox Contest grabbed the spotlight for a three-minute pitch while demonstrating groundbreaking security technologies to the broader RSAC community. In addition, there were other “hands-on sandboxes” offering experiences that discussed and simulated threats and vulnerabilities in IoT devices, automobiles and industrial control systems. It also featured the SANS Netwars experience, where participants could challenge and demonstrate their information security skills. Other side events included Birds of Feather sessions, Peer2Peer sessions and learning labs that enabled smaller groups to focus on specific security topics.
RSAC succeeded in bringing together the best and the brightest in cybersecurity to highlight the issues that are at the forefront of concern and importance in our field today. One of my favorite sessions was the closing keynote where Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Udacity president and founder, and also GoogleX founder, shared his vision of the workplace where AI takes over repetitive and mundane tasks to free up people to do much cooler things.
RSAC 2018 was overall a very impressive event, and hopefully a lot of the learning, sharing and networking stimulated the attendees to return to their places of work with renewed energy and inspiration to face the cyber challenges of today.
You can read more about my experience at RSAC in this conference recap report.