Do you even work in cybersecurity if you didn't attend the RSA Conference this week?
One of the world's premier cybersecurity conferences returned to live-action in downtown San Francisco, with a robust lineup of speakers, sessions, and sponsors.
With this year's event being my first time at an RSA Conference, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. But as soon as I went down the escalators of Moscone Center to the expo hall, I realized how grand of an event this was.
Sponsors pulled out all the stops with some jaw-dropping booth designs, like this neural tree from SentinelOne that looked like it was straight out of the movie Avatar:
Every sponsor had fun games to play with cool prizes to win, like Oculus headsets, drones, gaming consoles, and even a motorcycle. One vendor held a mini rap concert with YouTube freestyler Harry Mack. Here's a short snippet from the rapper, who asked the audience for three words to freestyle with. He used SecureWorld, sourdough bread, and cryptography:
Cybersecurity leaders share their thoughts
While it was truly an experience to walk around the show floor, I was looking forward to tuning in to hear from some of the world's top experts in cybersecurity.
A keynote panel with some prominent government officials in the U.S. caught my attention. NSA Director Robert Joyce, Chris Inglis from the Office of the National Cyber Director, and the queen of cybersecurity herself, Jen Easterly, the Director of CISA, discussed how cyber plays a role in our national security.
One of the topics Easterly touched on was the importance of cybersecurity culture in an organization:
"As the newest government agency, I probably spend more than 50% of my time on building a culture of the organization, developing our core values, our core core principles, ways to weave these to the fabric of the organization. And at the end of the day, it's all about our people. How are we building an ecosystem that allows us to attract and retain the best talent to be able to help defend the nation in cyber, and that comes down to how we treat our people, how we develop them, how we treat other people, how we treat our partners. At the end of the day, [culture] is the most important thing when you are trying to build a great organization."
I attended another panel on which Craig Newark, the founder of Craigslist, spoke with Kiersten Todt, the Chief of Staff at CISA, about the current state of cybersecurity and what he's doing to help. He discussed his passion to help push the industry forward, which really resonated with me:
"My ideal is that I'm at an age which was the duck and cover generation. I was in elementary school where they made us go through that and it sunk in. But, you know, there fortunately wasn't much in the way of nuclear war.
But in recent years, I've been supporting a lot of veterans and military families groups, for perspective, among other things, wondering if I should have served in Vietnam. They tell me that I wouldn't have survived my first day in the jungle, because my own troops would have frightened me because I'm that kind of tough military guy.
But they also tell me that cybersecurity, that kind of thing, that's my war. That's what they want me doing. And that's what they want me to help them find careers doing. So that's my initial motivation. I'm following through now. I've been lucky enough workwise to fall backwards onto a pile of money. So I'm giving it away for things like this."
There were so many sessions and speakers that it was impossible to hear from all of them, but everyone that I listened to had insightful thoughts on the industry as a whole and where it might be headed in the coming years.
If you have the opportunity to attend RSAC in 2023, don't pass it up.
And don't forget to check out SecureWorld's upcoming regional cybersecurity conferences, which offer an incredible opportunity to connect with other security leaders near you.