RSA 2020: The Intersection of Technology and Humanity

Posted on March 4, 2020

By Tanaya Lukaszewski and Reagan McAfee

For almost 30 years, RSA’s annual gathering of cybersecurity professionals has been one of the best weeks to learn about the latest news and trends in the security world, catch up with old friends, and make new ones through a plethora of networking events. 

Every year, our cybersecurity team spends the week teasing out the latest trends, nurturing client and press relationships, and soaking up the collective knowledge of the security community. This year, we compiled our key takeaways and tips from RSA — as this was one of our best years yet.

Security begins and ends with human beings.

This year’s RSA theme was “The Human Element.” Hugh Thompson, program chairman for the conference, kicked the week off at RSAC Innovation Sandbox with the powerful message that “fundamental security issues end with the human being.” 

Although new security solutions promise the latest in AI, ML, blockchain, and more, human beings are the decision-makers in organizations that are trusted with the data of other individuals. At the end of the day, data privacy and security are being viewed less as a technology sector and more as a human right. 

Automation is infosec’s answer to bandwidth, burnout, and evolving threats.

From RSAC’s Innovation Sandbox competitors, to the well-established industry players, automation bubbled to the top as a key area of investment. Securiti.ai, the San Jose, Calif.-based startup that took home the top prize at the annual Innovation Sandbox startup competition, is wielding AI-powered PrivacyOps to address the high stakes game of data privacy and compliance. 

At the same time, established security players such as Juniper Networks entered the conference integrating its security intelligence feed SecIntel with Mist, Juniper’s AI-driven enterprise platform.

We expect to see an increased investment in automation as infosec professionals are tasked with more responsibility across a growing network.

It IS possible to be intentional with time and bandwidth.

When thousands of professionals descend upon downtown San Francisco, it can be daunting to pick and choose among the abundance of networking events, sessions, booths, and more. We spoke with experienced RSA alumnae about how they got the most out of this crazy week. 

“For many vendors, RSA is the security Super Bowl and requires months of planning and preparation to execute effectively,” said Lauren Bogoshian, Head of Communications at Illumio. “There’s a lot of buildup for one whirlwind week that always flashes by in an instant. I always try to remember that while the conference is a moment in time, I can use that energy, that excitement, that drive to fuel my creativity all year long. To get the most out of RSA 2020, I soak in the sessions and network while onsite and then carry that momentum forward for the rest of the year.”   

Kelly Jackson Higgins, executive editor at Dark Reading, optimizes her experience by “leaving room in the schedule to stop, digest, and analyze all of the information, ideas, and impressions you get from your meetings, sessions, and social events.” 

RSA press veteran, Jessica Lyons Hardcastle, managing editor at SDxCentral, takes advantage of the venue’s walkability while keeping comfort in mind during the long week. “One of the many great things about having the event in San Francisco instead of, say, Vegas, is the opportunity to walk outside and enjoy the fresh air. The only downside of this is that meetings and events are spread out between hotel suites, restaurants, and Moscone, so I may end up walking 10 blocks between meetings. Comfortable shoes are key, and so is giving myself plenty of walking time between meetings.”

This year’s RSA was a tremendous success and our team looks forward to “security summer camp,” otherwise known as Black Hat, this summer in Las Vegas. See you soon!

Tanaya Lukaszewski is a passionate and experienced PR strategist with more than a decade of communications success spanning global B2B technology brands.

Reagan McAfee contributes to multiple accounts, working with clients to provide media relations support, research and speaking and awards submissions.