Q&A: RSA Conference Europe 2010

Linda Lynch is the RSA Conference Europe Manager and in this Q&A she provides an overview of this year’s event.

Where do you see RSA Conference Europe fit in the world of IT security?
As the information security industry becomes more and more complex, and high-profile, the need for knowledge sharing and common best practices is vital in enabling businesses, vendors and end-users to face the challenges ahead. RSA Conference Europe has established itself as a forum where industry professionals can come together to learn about the latest developments and trends in the industry and share their strategies, approaches and experiences. We believe it’s a must attend event for security professionals in Europe to arm themselves with information they can apply in their everyday jobs and lives.

What will be different or new at this year’s RSA Conference Europe? Are there any special features in EMEA compared to the US or Japan shows?
I think security professionals face similar challenges today regardless of regions, however for RSA Conference Europe we work hard to have specific European content especially for example, in our governance track. If you look from a legislative and compliance prospective, Europe has done a lot more in terms of privacy legislation over the past two years. That’s really interesting from the US perspective as they are now asking the same questions. What type of data do we need to regulate, can we collaborate on privacy? The whole world is asking those questions, but I think Europe has been a forerunner and this will be featured at RSA Conference Europe.

We made some pretty big changes last year by moving to the Hilton London Metropole in central London, and also by changing our sponsorship model (offering less but more exclusive sponsorships with elements of content included) so this year we’ve focused on building on the success of last year and fine-tuning some elements. The main changes our delegates will notice will obviously be the content. We have refreshed our sessions tracks and introduced some new ones this year: Data Security, Network & Mobile Security and Strategy and Architecture. One new evening event we’re introducing this year is a PechaKucha (or PK) event which will take place in our drinks reception on the Wednesday. Pecha Kucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds (total presentation length – 6 minutes, 40 seconds). It’s a format that makes presentations concise, messages focused, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. Some of the biggest names in the industry will be presenting and it’s sure to be fun.

How many attendants will be in RSA Conference 2010?
I think that the economic climate is still having an impact on travel, tradeshow and training budgets, however that said, registration is tracking ahead of last year right now and we’re hoping to return to pre-2009 levels of attendance. We’re hoping for 1,000 + attendees.

How do you differentiate the Conference from Infosecurity Europe?
I think Infosecurity Europe has established itself as the largest tradeshow and exhibition showcasing vendors that matter in security but it’s a very different format from what we are offering. RSA Conference Europe is the face-to-face forum which delivers knowledge, best practices, insight and perspective via our content, so I’d say our biggest differentiator is the value that our content and educational opportunities represent to our delegates.

Who are the most important speakers this year?
Each year we work hard to present delegates with the most exciting and provocative line-up of keynote and track session speakers and I think the 2010 speakers are exceptionally strong.

Looking at our keynotes, we’ll be welcoming Richard A. Clarke, Chairman, Good Harbor Consulting, who is an internationally-recognized expert on security, including homeland security, national security, cyber security, and counter-terrorism. Clarke served the last 3 US Presidents as a senior White House Advisor. Bruce Schneier, Chief Security Technology Officer, BT, the internationally renowned security technologist and author will be returning to the conference this year. The RSA Conference Europe closing keynote: ‘To Catch a Thief: What IT Security Can Learn From Con Artists and Magicians’ will be an unusual, entertaining and informative TV-style panel session moderated by information security expert (and RSA Conference Programme Committee Chair) Herbert “Hugh” Thompson, Ph.D. The panel will include Bob Sullivan, author of two New York Times best-selling books on new scamming techniques, and Alexis Conran, magician and master of deception and star of the hit television show, “The Real Hustle”, on BBC 3.

From our sponsors we will have keynote presentations from Arthur W. Coviello Jr., President, RSA, The Security Division of EMC and EVP, EMC & Tom Heiser, Chief Operating Officer, RSA, The Security Division of EMC. Adrienne Hall, General Manager, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft Corporation and Philippe Courtot, Chairman & CEO, Qualys.

From a track session perspective, we’ll have 70+ sessions across 10 tracks presented this year by organisations such as the Cabinet Office (UK), (ISC)2, ISACA, Barclays, Visa, USAF, ENISA, SafeMashups, Cloud Security Alliance, Diageo, Verizon Business, Internet Security Advisors Group, BAE Systems and the list goes on. I would say we will see five main themes and topics that dominate the agenda. These are cloud computing security, security for social networking, cyber crime, mobile security and data security.

What have been the major security threats in 2010 so far and how have these informed the conference agenda this year?
Computing is changing at a rapid pace every year, applications are migrating to the cloud, mobile devices are changing the way we interact and connect to networks. The major threats are changing too. We are getting to the point where attackers can automate and create personalized attacks, personalized phishing emails and so on. Another major issue is cyber warfare, how vulnerable are we as nations, as individuals to an attack that might not be financially motivated but might be motivated by some sort of political angle. We have seen a shift in the last 10 years from amateur hacking driven by the need to achieve notoriety to professional organized criminal gangs perpetrating attacks for large financial rewards. In 2010 we have seen an increase in cloud-hosted malware, bot blasts, privacy-busting malvertising and compromised smartphones so mobile security is really an issue now. As I mentioned above, I think the 5 main topics that will be dominating the agenda are cloud computing, security for social networking, cyber crime4, mobile security and data security.

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