Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 07:49

RSAC urged to focus on cyber security, not companies

By
John Sheehy: "...we believe RSAC should focus on cyber security rather than simply acting as a showroom for current cyber security products.", John Sheehy: "...we believe RSAC should focus on cyber security rather than simply acting as a showroom for current cyber security products.", Courtesy IOActive

The RSA Conference has changed from being a conference about cyber security to being one about the companies involved in cyber security, an official of the security firm IOActive Labs claims, adding that the "exorbitant" lodging cost has put the conference out of the reach of many practitioners.

IOActive Sales and Strategy vice-president John Sheehy said in a blog post that the company he works would not be attending from 2020 onwards and, instead, launching a series of events similar to those staged at RSAC each year.

Sheehy said in 2018, IOActive had noticed a drop in the quality of the attendance at the company's event, which goes by the moniker IOAsis.

"We discovered in talking to our clients, friends and peers in the industry that many of them no longer felt the ROI (return on investment) was there to attend, given the changes in the conference coupled with the significant impact to their companies’ limited travel budgets (with lodging easily averaging US$1000 per night before taxes and fees)," he said.

This lodging cost had made conference attendance unviable for many security practitioners and front-line managers and added to a drop in quality of both the conference and adjacent events, Sheehy claimed.

He blamed on this on poor design. "While RSAC has always had a heavy product focus with a parade of companies offering whatever marketing has determined to be the magic talisman du jour, it has moved to more of a focus on the acquisition and funding of the companies that make these talismans. This only further removes RSAC from a conference for security practitioners and managers."

Sheehy advised the organiser to find a more affordable venue for the conference from 2020 onwards and to shift the acquisition and funding focus to the week before the actual cyber security events, and start on the Wednesday or Thursday of the preceding week.

"Lastly, we believe RSAC should focus on cyber security rather than simply acting as a showroom for current cyber security products," he said.

"We appreciate running a conference of this size is not easy and these observations are meant to be help improve the quality and help RSAC stay relevant for many years to come."

This year's RSA Conference ended last Friday (8 March) and the major story that emerged from it was that the US Government had refused to renew a tourist visa for globally renowned cryptographer Adi Shamir. As a result, he was unable to attend a conference which he co-founded 27 years ago.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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