RSAC USA: Then and Now

POSTED BY ALISON ADKINS

From the first RSAC USA in 1991 to the latest conference wrapping up just two weeks ago, there have been many changes. Although US fashion trends from the early 90’s may have peaked, disappeared and resurfaced in 2019 (flannels, chokers, chuck taylors, bucket hats), both the RSA Conference and the cybersecurity industry have evolved drastically.

Here are just a few of the differences tracked over the years…

 

Then

Now

Name

Cryptography, Standards & Public Policy: the Fall ‘91 Crypto Technology Update

RSAC

Attendees

<50 (1991)

40,000+

Locations

US

US, London, Abu Dhabi, Asia Pacific, Japan

Theme

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) (2001)

Better

Keynote Speaker

Bill Gates (2005)

Tina Fey

Hot Topics

Clipper Chip (1995)

MITRE ATT&CK

Draws

Booth babes (banned in 2015)

Floof babes (aka puppies!)

 
RSA puppies

Puppies at the ThreatQuotient RSA Booth!

While the changes are fun to see, one thing you can always count on at RSAC are great discussions and an enthusiastic and engaged audience, and this year was no different. Although it was a chilly and wet week outside, conversations were heating up inside the Moscone Center. Buzz about MITRE ATT&CK and Gartner’s SOAR model permeated sessions, keynotes and exhibitor messaging alike. Not surprising from an industry fueled by innovation as much as caffeine.

Another great topic of discussion this year was the need to break down silos between disparate technologies and teams. For quite some time vendors have focused on specific areas of the security team, often offering a focused “silver bullet” solution that would revolutionize the way the team operates. A refreshing trend seems to be emerging around bringing the work of these teams together, to make the organization as a whole stronger. There are obviously many hurdles to overcome, not the least of which are the oversized egos we InfoSec practitioners seem to carry around, but it feels like we are getting there.

With the global cybersecurity market continuing in an upwards trend, conferences similar to RSAC are expected to subsequently experience growing pains as RSAC cements its position as the industry’s flagship conference. Some may view this negatively as the expansion and success of the conference drives higher ticket prices, long ‘amusement park’ style lines forming at each session, as well as a challenging amount of background noise to contend with at local watering-holes. However, RSAC attendee growth also attracts a wide variety of vendors showcasing their defensive tool suite. This melting pot of technologies under one proverbial roof allows analysts to evaluate their sensor stack to fill in any missing gaps but also provides executives the ability to learn about and potentially earmark budget for future technologies.

So in hindsight, the conference theme holds true. While simple it is powerful; the ability to better one’s organization, one’s team, one’s skill set for a better, safer world. It’s great to see the diverse mix of cybersecurity experts come together in one place every year to push the industry forward.

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