After two years of cancellations, more than 26,000 attendees gathered in San Francisco on June 6-9 for RSA Conference, the world’s leading information security conference and exposition. For more than three decades, RSAC has been the premier place where the security industry converges to discuss current and future concerns.
Even more importantly, RSAC provides the biggest opportunity for professionals to network and find community in their field. Although the conference is filled with exhibitions and seminars from cybersecurity business competitors, RSAC touts its ability to bring the cybersecurity industry together and empower the collective “we” to stand against cyberthreats worldwide. And after losing two conferences to COVID-19, the cybersecurity community was most excited about coming back together for this global event.
Fittingly, the theme of this year’s conference was “transform,” reflecting how organizations have faced the last two years of the pandemic and a largely remote workforce. This transformation has produced many growing pains for the InfoSec industry, including a skills shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Now more than ever, there is a desire for talent, yet a huge gap in available professionals to staff open positions. It’s not that cybersecurity professionals don’t want to work; there just isn’t enough specialization and knowledge in the current talent pool to keep up with the industry’s growing demand. The InfoSec industry is leaning more into younger generations as recent college graduates are emerging with a greater understanding of trends and developing technologies.
Another transformation the industry faces because of the pandemic is an accelerated acceptance of cloud technologies across information security. Brick-and-mortar companies have pivoted to the realm of software with survival dependent on cloud integrations, which now prove a necessity. These companies face more significant cyberthreats as their data proliferates across the cloud.
Businesses have shifted to a digital environment, and different departments within organizations are finding ways to deploy technologies that support diverse workforces, securing other elements of digital security transformation. This spirals companies into an endless loop of shifting their focus to new departments and lacking the talent to lead them.
While these industry shifts were hot topics at RSAC, another transformation took place. Treble vice president Matt Grant is no stranger to RSAC and had his eyes on the community aspect of the conference rather than industry challenges. As someone who worked for San Francisco companies for nearly two decades and has attended a dozen RSA conferences, Grant was pleasantly surprised to find a positive response toward the conference as a whole.
With only a handful of large-scale events occurring in San Francisco since the pandemic, Grant expressed the genuine joy of coming together the city exuded during those three short days.
“It seemed as though the entire city was excited about this conference,” Grant said. “From the industry professionals in attendance to the hotel staff accommodating them, RSAC 2022 felt like a welcome event, bringing business back to the city and local economies.”
Along with discussing InfoSec’s top trends, the tight-knit community reconnected in a way, Grant said, he’s never seen before. One of his favorite memories included toasting the legacy of Tim Wilson, the late founder of Dark Reading, whose influence transcended the InfoSec industry.
“The conference really demonstrated the importance of large-scale events and goes to show that face-to-face connections can’t be replicated anywhere else. These events bring communities together, and you could tell everyone was excited to reconnect,” Grant said.
Seeing a community come together and conferences come back as a whole demonstrates the resilience of industries and the human need to assemble in a post-pandemic world. RSAC 2022 wasn’t quite back to pre-pandemic attendance, but numbers only mean so much. San Francisco, along with other conference hotspots around the world, isn’t seeing a decline in need or desire for conferences of this scale, which only provokes more excitement and energy from the professionals who attend them.