Feb 20 2020

RSA 2020: Major Cybersecurity Event Will Place Greater Emphasis on ‘Human Element’

One of the biggest tech conferences of 2020 will deliver guidance on thwarting threat actors, including the importance of well-trained employees.

It’s long been a truism of cybersecurity: For all the sophistication of modern threat actors and the advanced technologies available to identify and stop malicious activity, the greatest vulnerability for most organizations is their own people.

Yet some are learning to turn this weakness into a strength, with advanced employee training and efforts to build a culture of cybersecurity. It’s no surprise, then, that “The Human Element” is the theme of RSA Conference 2020, one of the world’s largest security events, which last year drew more than 40,000 IT professionals, journalists, policymakers and others to San Francisco beginning Feb. 24.

Many of the more than 100 educational sessions will focus on this theme, including “Leading Change: Building a Security Culture of Protect, Detect and Respond,” by Lance Spitzner, director of the SANS Institute, a cybersecurity training organization; and “Protecting Your Most Valuable Assets – Your People,” featuring Tom Filip, director of global security architecture and engineering at food manufacturer Kellogg. Attendees will also hear from Ken Sexsmith, Microsoft’s director of security education and awareness, about the company’s “unconventional approach” to training its own employees.

Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain and More on Tap

Of course, there will also be plenty of guidance on more technical tactics and best practices. Attendees will hear from experts on the latest threats to cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments. And, they’ll learn about security-focused data center optimization, endpoint security and much more. With one big exception, every major technology company, as well as dozens of small and startup cybersecurity firms, will be on hand to showcase their latest security solutions, including those that take advantage of machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Stars from the world of cybersecurity and beyond will headline the event, including General Motors CEO Mary Barra; Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander in Europe; astronauts Peggy Whitson and Mike Massimino; RSA President Rohit Ghai; McAfee CTO Steve Grobman; and Johnson & Johnson CISO Marene Allison.

LEARN MORE: How are manufacturers building security into modern mobile devices?

Coronavirus Concerns Force IBM Cancellation

Somewhat darkening the event this year, the outbreak of the coronavirus has some individuals and organizations rethinking plans to travel to large, crowded events. IBM, for example, has withdrawn as a platinum sponsor, citing the “health of IBMers” as its reason.

It’s not clear how attendance overall might be affected by coronavirus fears, but RSA organizers said that, as of Feb. 14, less than 1 percent of expected attendees had canceled their registrations, and only eight exhibitors (including IBM) had pulled out. Of these, six are from China, where the outbreak is concentrated. Organizers have added a number of health and safety precautions for this year’s event, including offering disinfectant wipes and increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations at the Moscone Center and on shuttle buses.

Keep this page bookmarked for articles and videos from the event, and follow us on Twitter @BizTechMagazine and the official conference Twitter feed, @RSAConference.