RSA Conference 2020 USA: What you can expect at this year’s event

It’s that time of year: RSA Conference 2020 USA is coming up in February. To prepare, we asked Britta Glade, Director of Content and Curation for RSA Conference, to tell us more about this year’s event. Read our Q&A for more on what’s in store at the world’s largest gathering of information security professionals.

what to expect at rsac 2020

What have been the major security developments in the past year, and how have these informed the conference agenda for 2020?

RSA Conference is in its 29th year, having grown and evolved to serve the changing needs of the members of the whole cybersecurity community. The content that appears at RSA Conference for the public tracks, as well as many specialized closed door programs that happen during the week, is selected by our Program Committee, which is comprised of around 150 experts from across domains who review proposals that are made through our Call for Speakers process.

This year we had almost 2,400. Many developments were clearly top of mind to our community. Among them disinformation campaigns and concern about election impact; the release of CCPA and its far-reaching implications; convergence of physical and cybersecurity world causing increased convergence of IT and OT; growing focus on and understanding of the importance of the security of Industrial Control Systems, individually and as part of supply chains; and people—the human part of things.

For this last one, I’m not sure there’s a single “development” per say, but I do believe there’s a growing understanding of the importance of the “people” part of the equation in solving security challenges—as individuals (what skills do we need), as diverse teams (how do we build and inspire the right teams for the challenge at hand) and as partners with technology (think AI and orchestration and how we best harness technology). People—humans!—are the stars of the industry and the most important promise of the future, which was reflected in the submissions that we received and is the theme of RSA Conference 2020.

Has your strategic focus changed from previous years? How has RSAC evolved in the past few years?

Yes, as a reflection of the industry and what matters most to this community, what we do and how we do it at RSA Conference is always evolving. We listen very carefully to the feedback we receive through our surveys, through social media engagement and directly from community members.

This year, for example, we’ve introduced two new tracks to our agenda – Product Security and Open Source Tools. Growing requirements for products to be natively secure and privacy-aware have become immense for developers of all types of products, not just security tools. We were approached by some enterprise CISOs and asked to create some solid content for developers to help create a gathering point to serve this growing community and give them better means to engage and share best practices and common experiences. This drove the Product Security track.

On a parallel track, we saw a growing need for better, more secure application of open source code in tools and applications being created, as well as an interest from that community in sharing with one another. Some leaders in the open source community came together to help curate a track focused on exactly this, work that we see expanding in the coming years. All this alongside great content for privacy experts, policy makers, risk managers, identity leaders, CISOs, SOC analysts…and all the other key members of our cybersecurity community.

You recently announced the keynote lineup for this year, tell us a bit more about that.

We have an outstanding lineup of keynoters for our attendees this year! Once again, RSA Conference will offer two keynote stage experiences for our attendees. On the West Stage Keynote, we blend the perspectives of industry leaders with influential voices from outside of our “traditional” cybersecurity community.

This year, we’re honored to be hosting Mary Barra, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Kara Swisher, Co-Founder and Editor-at-Large, Recode; and Dr. Peggy Whitson, Record-Breaking NASA Astronaut and Biochemist. The perspectives of each of these luminaries should be very intriguing to our cybersecurity community since what these leaders do is intertwined in some way with what we focus on as an industry, from AI to automation to key policy decisions to technology impact.

On the South Stage, we have sessions ranging from security and privacy implications of genomics to psychology of fear to supply chain risk to vulnerability disclosure. These sessions are designed to go into more depth with the topics and allow Q&A engagement between the audience and our esteemed presenters. Our keynote program is designed to expose our attendees to different ways of thinking from cross disciplines and fields. The RSAC 2020 line up does not disappoint!

What unique programs will be of particular interest to new visitors?

RSA Conference is a large event. New visitors—as well as experienced attendees—definitely should have a plan for what they want to attend and, where applicable, reserve seats (reserve a seat functionality is available for most of the class sessions).

For new visitors in particular, plan to join the Know Before You Go webcast on February 11, 2020, to get an overall orientation to RSA Conference, and then onsite on Monday at 4 pm, come to the First-Timers Orientation and Networking Reception.

On Wednesday and Thursday, there will also be First-Timers morning networking meet ups at 7 am. New and veteran Full Conference Pass holders will also not want to miss our new RSAC Engagement Zone, which brings our Human Element theme to life creating a new space and experience for attendees to engage in different ways, formally and informally, with one another. Located on the 2nd floor of Moscone West in the heart of the action for educational sessions, the Engagement Zone offers a variety of different formats to help facilitate one-on-one and one-on-few discussions, helping attendees explore perspectives, meet new colleagues and positively impact their connections during the week and beyond.

Through the Braindate platform, attendees will be able to easily find and have meaningful conversations with others who share their interests. Braindates are meetups focused on topics proposed by attendees that will be in the form of one-on-one or small-group conversations of up to seven people – we are so excited to be able to offer this at RSAC 2020!

What tracks and workshops would you highlight?

There is something for everyone at RSA Conference. I’d encourage attendees to explore the full agenda and plot a plan for their time at RSA Conference. For CISOs in particular, you’ll be pleased to know our CISO Boot Camp is back in expanded format for a second year.

This closed door, Chatham House Rule content offers content curated by CISOs for CISOs, offering very candid perspectives to help CISOs navigate their most pressing challenges. And as always, Monday’s seminars provide a wide range of offerings that allow attendees to dig in on a particular topic.

In addition to a variety of seminars presented by our different partners, we’ll have two different Professional Development seminars, one geared toward building personal skills and the other to building teams, as well as the ever popular Emerging Threats seminar, the She Speaks Security seminar, and the How-to for Innovators and Entrepreneurs seminar which directly precedes RSAC Innovation Sandbox, the destination competition that’s so very popular among our attendees.

Aside from what’s new, is there anything returning that you’d recommend attendees check out?

The RSAC Sandbox is always a popular destination for attendees and it’s accessible for all Full Conference as well as Expo Plus badge holders. We’ll have amazing content and experiences in the Sandbox geared toward seven key security areas: 1) Aerospace; 2) Car Hacking; 3) Industrial Control Systems; 4) IoT; 5) Medical Devices; 6) Supply Chain; and 7) Voting and Election Security. And no description of RSA Conference would be complete without a mention of the Expo where 600+ of the industry’s leading companies and organizations present their cutting-edge products, solutions, and services.

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RSA Conference 2020 USA: What you can expect at this year’s event