RSAC 2017 Abu Dhabi: Trends in Call for Speakers Submissions

Posted on by Britta Glade

RSA Conference 2017 Abu Dhabi will take place November 7 and 8 at the Emirates Palace with a great line up of speakers exploring topics that we know will be of interest to our attendees. How do we know we’ve hit the mark? It’s an extensive and iterative process with regional experts reviewing all of our speaking submissions, debating the merits of the different options with each other, weighing their own experiences and perspectives against all of the potential topics at hand to hash out a balanced, educational agenda. These experts pick the sessions at the beginning of the process and also review the presentation materials a few times before the actual session is completed to help elevate the topics that matter most now in region. 

RSAC 2017 Abu Dhabi Word CloudThis year’s submissions covered a wide range of topics and featured more end user proposals than we’ve previously seen come through in the Abu Dhabi submissions, seemingly indicating a further interest in region with security practitioners willing to knowledge-share with one another. Consistent with the submissions we get at our other conferences, there is a common theme that security has become a business enabler instead of an afterthought. Security decisions and directions are being made up-front to support and drive new business initiatives, with key IT trends like the transition to cloud, driving this change. As security professionals, we appear to be transforming: shedding our old “Dr. No” skin and welcomed as equal, valued partners at the table. This is exciting to see. 

As noted in last year’s Abu Dhabi trends blog, blockchain continues to take a starring role in submissions, with truly fascinating applications of the nascent technology in ways we couldn’t have imagined even 12 months ago. We saw submissions that drew upon blockchain’s underlying promise of transparency, security, and auditability to truly revolutionize existing business models, transforming some businesses and giving way to altogether new ones as well. The transformative opportunity of blockchain in the Middle East is very clear, and we are excited to see it explored on our agenda and amongst our attendees. 

Automation and machine learning also flowed through the submissions we reviewed (to be fair….it’s flowing through everything in our lives right now—just ask Siri—so why would the security industry be any different?!). The opportunity that artificial intelligence presents to security teams to help bridge skill, intelligence, speed, accuracy and prioritization gaps in their security operations—proactively as well as reactively—was explored in many of the submissions that we reviewed. But the good guys aren’t the only ones who’ve figured this out. We also saw evidence in the submissions of cybercriminals who are also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to discover vulnerabilities, mine social data and build smarter malware. Automation and the “rise of the machine” presents huge opportunities and challenges for our industry…. and we’re probably only at the early stage of understanding what this brave new world really means. 

With every cycle of RSA Conference submission reviews that we do for our global events, research and findings from the latest threats and hacks come through. These submissions were no exception, with specific insights being shared on the regional threat environment as well as the increasing maturity and “productization” of the cyber-criminal ecosystem. Not surprisingly, parallel to the increase in ransomware attacks globally, we saw some interesting ransomware-focused research looking at both the technical nuances of these attacks as well as the business, legal and policy implications. In line with security’s role as a business enabler, we also saw exploration of the implications of hacks, both those experienced by an organization as well as those proactively launched by organizations, across the business in terms of legal and policy responses and governance and compliance implications across data handling and risk mitigation. 

Our third edition of RSA Conference 2017 Abu Dhabi promises to offer insights and perspectives unique to the region and reflective of the latest findings in the ever changing security landscape.

Britta Glade

Vice President, Content & Curation, RSA Conference

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