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Recapping the 2018 RSA Conference with Linda Gray Martin

The eyes of the cyber security world were on the popular RSA Conference that was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA from April 16-20. We had a chance to catch up with Linda Gray Martin, General Manager of  the Conference, on the final day and talk about some of the Conference s.

How many people attended the conference and where did they come from?

We will not have a final attendance number until after the Conference is over and we have been able to reconcile registrants and actual attendees. The RSA Conference is the security industry’s biggest event. About 20 percent of attendees are international as the event draws a national and local audience as well.

Can you tell us about some of the Conference s so far?

In the first few days of the Conference, attendees were already buzzing about the innovation happening in the security industry. We had a packed Early Stage Expo floor and an exciting Innovation Sandbox Contest (which we talk a bit more about below). The energy among Early Stage Expo and RSAC Innovation Sandbox crowds is a testament to the forward-thinking and revolutionary ideas that are happening in the security industry. It’s clear that Conference attendees came this year with an eagerness to learn, collaborate and innovate for the better good of our cyber-safety.

There is also a sense of urgency this year around the need to address the fact that our personal lives are becoming digital whether we like it or not and cyberthreats are looming larger than ever. Solutions to these cyberthreats can’t wait for tomorrow. We need to find them today. Recent events have put us at center stage. Business, politics and the entire world are hanging in the balance. Now more than ever, all eyes are on the information security community. Today’s keynotes, specifically the address and interview with The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), drove that home.

You mentioned the Sandbox contest, can you talk a little about that experience? 

Located in the Marriott Marquis, the RSAC Sandbox was full of opportunities for experiential learning and networking, such as:

  • SANS Core NetWars in the Sandbox: This is a hands-on information security challenge developed to build and enhance your skills as an infosec professional. Compete with your peers through progressively difficult challenges. Score points on our interactive scoreboard either by yourself or in a team of up to five players. SANS NetWars was designed for novice (hints available) to advanced professionals and covers various aspects of penetration testing, forensics, defense, and your ability to rely on your experiences and problem-solving skills to navigate from Level 1 through Level 5 of gameplay.
  • Industrial Control System (ICS) Sandbox: As the backbone of modern society, vulnerabilities in ICS has come to the forefront of businesses, governments and organizations. This year, ICS conducted a deeper dive into the Industrial Internet of Things, simulated an ICS cyberattack and think through implications of smart cities on the grid.
  • Internet of Things Sandbox: Organized by security consulting and research firm Independent Security Evaluators (ISE), IoT Village™ delivered expertise advocating for security advancements in Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This exhibit s vulnerable connected devices and groundbreaking security research found in devices as common as smart cameras to devices as complex as solar panels and medical devices. Experience thought-provoking talks by expert security researchers who dissect real-world exploits and vulnerabilities and analyze the impact on consumer and business environments. Stay informed by following both ISE and IoT Village on Twitter.
  • Car Hacking Village Sandbox: New this year! Wired and wireless exploitation of vehicle systems has become a critical safety concern for the automotive industry, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, and consumers alike. Through hands-on experience with industry experts, the Car Hacking Village Sandbox aims to educate security professionals on the functionality of vehicle systems and the vulnerabilities that could significantly impact the safety and security of today’s drivers and passengers.

Also included in the Sandbox programming is the annual RSAC Innovation Sandbox Contest, which is a leading platform for entrepreneurial cyber security companies to launch their ground-breaking research and innovation. The winning startup was just crowned the Most Innovative Company at RSA Conference 2018!

What were some of the top topics that were presented at RSA?

One of the RSAC Advisory Board members, Wade Baker, analyzed approximately 15,000 RSA Conference Call for Paper submissions over the last decade (2009-2018). Using a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques and a classification system developed for the Cyentia Research Library, Baker was able to extract the “most important” terms among those thousands of CFPs. According to his research, the top topic submissions for 2018 sessions were IoT, ransomware, GDPR, devops, blockchain, Equifax, Wannacry, threat hunting, bitcoin and deep learning. Senior Content Manager at RSA Conference, Britta Glade, also expands on these topics in her blog post.

Before we let you go, can you let us know when and where is the next RSA Conference?

Mark your calendars for the next RSA Conference on March 4-9, 2019 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco! RSAC Unplugged will be happening in London on June 7, and RSA Asia Pacific & Japan will be happening July 25-27 in Singapore.

About the Author

Kristina is an experienced tech writer and researcher with a keen interest in cybersecurity for businesses and the general public.

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