The tagline for RSA’s eponymous annual conference is “Where the world talks security.” The RSA Conference (RSAC) has certainly grown in scope and size since it started in 1991 as a gathering of cryptographers. This year, the world (at least the IT world) is certainly talking security, and the event comes in the wake of a massive number of high-profile cyberattacks and data breaches. So, what will be on your mind as you make your way through the capacious halls of the Moscone Center? What will you take back to your enterprise on the Monday after?
A sobering statistic in the recent Wall Street Journal, CIO Network special report caught my attention. A whopping 86% of IT leaders feel that the sophistication of hackers will likely exceed that of their own organization. When I shared this sentiment with one of my colleagues, he exclaimed, “Boy! That just sounds like capitulation to me.” My take on it is different; I think the sentiment is healthy. It tells me that IT leaders are acknowledging that attacks are a given, and that they now want to set themselves apart in how they deal with these attacks, both in real time and in their aftermath.
What will I be looking to learn?
RSAC will be a head-spinner. The number of IT security topics that the security professional needs to know and understand has steadily climbed over time. We can expect to hear many of the usual messages about malware, firewalls, privacy, APTs, cloud strategies, and mobile security.
I will be looking for ideas on how enterprises handle attacks once they have arrived at their doorstep. If attacks are a matter of “when” and not “if”, I want to know what can be done to minimize their damage. Clearly, discovering threats early is a thread to pursue, but more important is understanding the ways in which attacks can be stopped in their tracks. It is as if cyberattacks are the cancer of today’s data centers, and a better measure of security is to figure how to stop their cyber-metastasis.
I will be looking to hear from industry observers and vendors on this front.
My expo strategy: Start small
As far as strategies go when it comes to navigating the expo floor, I learned many years ago to do the opposite of what the booth layouts want you to do, which is to go to the biggest or most visible booths first. If your enterprise has embraced the Bimodal IT model, you will find most of the vendors that can address your mode 2 needs in smaller booths—but their ideas are anything but small. Yes, I work for one of these innovators now, but I stood by this mantra even when I was employed by one of the big guys. I have consistently had the most engaging conversations, added to my network, and collected actionable tips in the corners of expo instead of the middle.
So, wear your most comfortable shoes, mark your sessions, and make your way to the show. And remember to the start your expo exploration in the fringes. [Editor's note: North Hall booth #4314 seems like a good place to begin!]