February 8

RSA Conference 2007 – An Eye-Opening Experience

Live, from San Francisco USA, it’s the RSA 2007 Conference.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the largest gathering of security people.  There are ~15,000 attendees and 350+ vendors.  There are ~250 sessions and peer-2-peer sessions covering almost any topic related to (or not related to) information security, protection, assurance and business.

As you can see, there’s a great variety of experiences available.  The keynotes are typical high-level pontification.  The one difference was Art Coviello of EMC/RSA.  He gets it that security is now about the risk.  Some of the sessions are the typical reiteration of what we already know: Security needs to connect with the business; if we strongly encrypt everything, we’ll be secure; buy this product and it will solve your problems.  The best experince has been the networking opportunities and meeting new people and old friends.  The peer-to-peer sessions promote intimate debate of between 15-20 people where you can define your problems and hear realistic solutions from others with the same experience. 

Did I mention the parties?  I’m not a big partier, so I’ve only attended two: the speaker’s dinner and the bloggers/podcasters meet-up.  The speaker’s dinner blew my mind, not because of the food, but because of my dinner companions.  At my table was a gentleman from Pakistan studying in South Korea, a gentleman from Germany working in Great Brittain and a gentleman from Israel.  They are all cryptographers, which means I was the stupiest one at the table (I loved it!).  I had a great debate with the gentleman from Israel.  Only later did I wake-up and realize it was Adi Shamir (the “S” in RSA).  Wow! Only in America.

The security blogger/podcaster’s meet-up was hosted by Martin McKeay (of the Network Security Blog) among many others.  Again, I felt quite humbled.  I was in the same room with the best writer’s and speakers in our industry, including Martin, Alan Shamir (Still Secure), Mike Murray (Episteme), and Bruce Schneier.  They have outstanding sites and continue to progress the whole industr, not only security.

As I mentioned earlier, this conference is big with people from all over the world.  The one “area of opportunity” is that it needs more of an international focus.  Many of the speakers only spoke to the Americans about the problems we face in America.  We Americans are too chauvanistic and need to realize that we are the minority.  We need to embrace the different viewpoints and cultures and learn from them.  Non-Americans can teach us (myself included) not only about security, but also about the world.  Hopefully there will be more internationalization in the future.

If you are here or are familiar with the RSA Conference, please provide comments with your thoughts.  What was your favorite part?  What did you learn or take away from it?

If you didn’t go, maybe we can meet there next year.

By working together, we all become stronger.


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