Tips for Having a Great RSA Conference Experience

Posted on by David Needle

The RSA Conference 2016 starts off Monday and it’s a biggie. Last year over 33,000 attendees swarmed the three Moscone Center conference halls in San Francisco and don’t be surprised if that number is even bigger this year, the 25th anniversary of the event that started so modestly in 1991 with a gathering of 60 cryptographers.

So how do you make the best use of your time at the conference? Linda Gray, General Manager of the RSA Conference, shared several tips and useful details to make your experience less stressful and more rewarding.

If the key to real estate is Location, Location, Location, the key to getting the most out of a big conference is Plan, Plan, Plan. Certainly it can be fun wandering the two giant exhibit halls, collecting tchotchkes and perhaps discovering a worthwhile company or product among the 500 exhibitors and sponsors you didn’t know about, but spending just a little bit of time reviewing the exhibitor list will help you target a bunch of companies you know you want to see. (And get booth numbers so you’ll know where to find them.)

“Plan ahead. Target the companies and sessions of interest to you and have a backup plan,” says Gray, in case a session is overbooked. She also recommends you dress comfortably to make all the walking a bit more manageable and don’t forget to bring a battery charger.

The RSA Conference has a mobile app to help with your planning. Included are all the session details and you can export your selections right to Outlook or Google Calendar for easy reference.

First timers and RSA Conference veterans should know there are several new features at this year’s event including 12 Learning Labs where you can get two hours of hands-on training on specific security products. A new conference segment are the Focus-On Series featuring in-depth Q&A with some of the presenters giving you some extra value to hear more from some of the presenters and get your questions answered.

You can save time by picking up your badge on Saturday (1 p.m. to 6 p.m.) or Sunday or Monday (7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day). 

Advice from an RSA veteran

This will be RSA number 14 for technology writer George Hulme. In a recent blog post he shared what areas he has marked must attend and I think his choices are right on. High on his list is the annual Cryptographer’s Panel. “It’s always one of the liveliest security conversations of the year, anchored in current events,” says Hulme. The panel features a handful of leading cryptography experts who discuss the latest advances in cryptography and how it impacts our lives.

Hulme also suggests checking out the Beyond Encryption panel. This is especially timely and sure to pack the room as encryption has become such a hot topic lately surrounding the issue of whether to give law enforcement backdoor access to encrypted devices.

Not everyone will be at the conference Monday, but if you are, Hulme says don’t miss the return to RSA of the Innovation Sandbox Monday afternoon. It’s a contest where security vendors compete to see which has the most innovative ideas and technologies that potentially could have a big impact on improving information security.

But hey, those are just three sessions of the over 400 scheduled for RSA. Peruse the agenda and pick your own favorites. Have a fantastic week. Hope to see you there. 

Innovation Sandbox

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