A Look Back at RSA Conference 2016

Posted on by Jennifer Lawinski

We came. We saw. We talked a lot about encryption.

If you attended the RSA Conference in San Francisco last week, the odds are good you have an opinion on whether Apple should comply with the FBI’s request to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone. And if you didn’t come with an opinion of your own, there were plenty to be heard.

cryptographers panelKeynote speakers from the worlds of technology and government shared their views from the stage in Moscone South—and they did not necessarily see eye to eye. You can get a flavor for the debate if you contrast the discussions here: RSAC 2016 Keynote Speakers Talk Apple, Encryption and the FBI and U.S. Attorney General Speaks Out on Apple Encryption Controversy. It was the topic of the week, to say the least. 

Individual sessions delved into the nuances of encryption, privacy and security. Executives from Google, Microsoft and Adobe talked privacy. Government technology heads talked about privacy. Even former head of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff talked about privacy, along with a panel of experts whose collective experience, education and intelligence was mind-blowing.

It was exactly the kind of discussion that RSA Conference thrives at facilitating—and was made for. Many of the world’s best minds gathered together and had a rational, thought-provoking conversation about the challenges we all face today when it comes to keeping our data secure while also keeping our nations secure. Not everyone agreed on the best path forward, but it was clear that there would be no solution without smart people having tough conversations.

But the RSA Conference was by no means a maelstrom of doom and privacy gloom.

We looked to the future with hope, and we felt our deepest humanity listening to StoryCorps founder David Isay.

In Amit Yoran RSAhis keynote address, RSA President Amit Yoran said he believes that the future of information security lies in fostering creativity.

"There is no actual magic that will save us," said Yoran. "Our problem isn't a technology problem. Adversaries aren't beating us with better tech. They're beating us because they're being more creative, more patient, more persistent."

We need to nurture our own hunters to meet the challenge. Gauntlet thrown! Let's do this.

And that’s not all.

CISOs from different industries shared their challenges. A CEO gave us a real-world example of how clever hackers can use “CEO Fraud” to get diligent employees to make mistakes that could cost millions. Everybody worried about the impending wave the Internet of Things will wash over the security industry. And we got to hang out with Sean Penn

That doesn’t even scratch the surface, because across the Expo floors in Moscone North and South, you were having conversations with your peers, learning about new technologies and perhaps winning yourself some schwag. You went to the Cyber Safety Village. You got your CyBEER Ops glasses, which were indeed filled with many delicious craft brews. And you watched Phantom wow the judges in the Innovation Sandbox competition. (In the Sandbox, meanwhile, all sorts of things were hacked.)

You went to Learning Labs. You participated in Peer2Peer sessions. You went dancing. And in light of that, an impressive number of you even managed to make it to a session at 8 a.m. on Thursday featuring yours truly and the excellent Ron Hale, president of ISACA, to discuss our State of Cybersecurity survey results.

It was an amazing week, and I, for one, was so thrilled to spend it with you all in San Francisco—meeting amazing, brilliant people who are passionate about what they do and who want to learn and engage with their community. Without you the RSA Conference would just be a big empty hall. Thank you!

We look forward to continuing the conversation with you in Singapore from July 20-22, 2016, in Abu Dhabi from November 15-16, 2016 and next year in San Francisco! 

Jennifer Lawinski

Director of Social Media & Community, Arculus



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