RSA Palooza 2008

So last week was the gigantor RSA Security conference in San Francisco. Does that sentence sound tired? It should.

The great thing about the SF venue is that it allows me to sleep in my own bed & to hold my girls each day-- after they have fallen asleep & before they awake. In between, I race up & down the Penninsula in madcap traffic & think & breathe security...and this year PRIVACY.

I expected the usual acronyms & tech talks about perimeter controls & bigger & better technology that would solve all ills if only "they" would buy more. This year was different in a very important way.

First, the Executive Security Action Forum (ESAF) meeting. This is the Monday pre-game meeting of ~200 security (and one or two privacy geeks) professionals. I moderated a session with BEA, Yahoo & Google regarding social networking and web 2.0 in the enterprise. I attended a very interesting session regarding the psychological profile of an insider likely to act to harm the enterprise. The discussions were confidential, but the feeling that something was changing started this day. The final session included rock star politicians and industry experts who discussed what we would say to the new US president about the cyber & information asset challenge.

RSA began with 4,000 of my security buddies & I listening to John Thompson, CEO of Symantec, taking about evaluating information, business priorities and what we need to communicate first BEFORE we add 0's & 1's...uh, who gave that cutie the privacy script? What was happening?? Is this a Security gig???

Fast forward through a long week-- I met with Secretary Chertoff, Asst Secretary Greg Garcia (of DHS) (interesting!), Participated in a privacy specific panel on emerging topics with CDT, BITS, Google & moderated by a USA Today reporter; a panel and working session on crisis management and communicating with the Board regarding information protection issues; I did my version of party like a rock star until 10pm at the Executive Women's Forum cocktail party; & capped off the week with a CNBC panel in a series entitled Bigger Thinking.

My fellow panelists for the CNBC bit were Mike Lynch, CEO Autonomy, James Powell, CTO Reuters
& Bruce Schneier, BT Counterpane (& crypto mega star). Intimidated anyone? I don't get nervous about these things because I really care about the topic, but this one had me thinking I would really really like a seat hidden in the corner of some coffee shop instead of playing the role of the whipping girl. I actually think it went off okay. I found the conversation quite fun & the moderator Simon Hobbs very gifted at keeping things moving and lively.

I shall post the URL here as soon as the session goes live on the Bigger Thinking website.

Bottom line, I was not the only person talking about pragmatic privacy at RSA this year. I was not laughed offstage nor did it seem that I was putting anyone to sleep. Not a single soul told me that I simply don't "get it" because I don't happen to believe that gear will do anything without sound practice, business correlation and the right people at the switches.

Something important is happening & I LIKE it...

Comments:

I agree that something important is happening. As I put it, there is a move from security as the first-mover to business as the first-mover, which I think is similar to what you're talking about on the privacy side. And I really enjoyed the CNBC panel. You definitely held your own along side a very entertaining Bruce Schneir who seemed to be arguing against the need for strong privacy programs in the future.

Posted by Matt Flynn on April 17, 2008 at 02:49 AM PDT #

Well, Miss Fancy Pants! How ya gonna keep 'im down on the farm now that they've seen CNBC?

Don't forget, along with the right folks at the helm is solid education and more of it.

At last I know why you didn't pick up the phone at your office the other day.
You rock star you.

John

Posted by John Taylor on April 17, 2008 at 07:07 AM PDT #

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