Big Themes Set to Emerge at RSA Conference 2019

eWEEK DATA POINTS: The RSA Conference 2019 is nearly here, and with it comes discussion of a number of core cyber-security topics, including DevSecOps, cloud, threat intelligence and identity.

RSA Conference 2019

With hundreds of specialized sessions, there is always a lot to take in at the annual RSA Conference held in San Francisco. 

The 2019 event is set to get under way March 4-8 and will tackle all manner of cyber-security topics ranging from new threats to privacy regulations, emerging technologies and everything in between. Across the various topics there are a number of key themes that will be evident at the conference, which were discussed in a preview call with members of the RSA Conference 2019 Advisory Board on Feb. 13.

In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at some of the key themes and topics that will be discussed at RSA Conference 2019.

Data Point No. 1: DevSecOps isn't a buzzword, it's a paradigm shift.

DevSecOps is an acronym for developer/security/operations and is an emerging approach for integrating security into the full lifecycle of applications, beginning with the development phase. 

Caroline Wong, chief security strategist at, said that while it's often easier for a new organization to start off with DevSecOps than an existing shop, the movement is working and is worthwhile for all types of development. One of the success stories for DevSecOps adoption is Nike, according to Wong.

"They transitioned from having a completely outsourced development to bringing everything in house," she said. "They actually have stated that in order for their digital experiences to be fun, fast and fair, they first need to be reliable, stable and secure."

There are multiple sessions on DevSecOps at RSA Conference 2019, including a full DevSecOps day on Monday, March 4. Looking beyond the full-day event, the advisory board also highlighted a deep dive session titled "Building Security in DevSecOps" led by Comcast SVP, Chief Product and Information Security Officer Noopur Davis.

Data Point No. 2: Cloud security is about more than just the cloud.

The cloud isn't just a new deployment target for workloads; it also represents a potential set of new approaches for improving security. Kim Jones, professor of practice at Arizona State University, commented that the ephemeral nature of cloud resources can also be used to help improve security. In the cloud, resources aren't always static and are "ephemeral" in nature, which is a characteristic that Jones thinks more organizations should make use of to improve their cyber-security posture.

Laura Koetzle, vice president and group director at Forrester Research, said that following best practices in the cloud can also provide lessons learned that organizations can benefit from for other deployments, including those that are on-premises.

Among the many sessions on cloud security at RSA Conference 2019 is one on March 5 titled “From Ephemeral Infrastructure to Ephemeral Communications.”

Data Point No. 3: Identity and privacy are related concepts.

With different compliance efforts including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the concepts of user identity and user privacy have become intertwined. Koetzle said that with GDPR in particular, a core concept is about user consent. That is, all of a user's data and identity belong to the user and can only be used with consent.

Among the emerging technologies that might help improve identity security is the use of blockchain, which provides a distributed ledger technology.

There are multiple sessions on identity at RSA Conference 2019, and one highlighted by the advisory board is titled “Security, Privacy and Human Behavior,” which runs on March 4.

Data Point No. 4: Better threat intelligence provides a better understanding of risk.

Threat Intelligence is an important part of cyber-security, though according to Jones, a lot of what is available is actually just threat information. In Jones' view, threat intelligence is predictive and isn't just about telling organizations what a threat is currently doing.

"True intelligence work is predictive. It requires critical thinking, it requires detailed analysis, and it requires us focusing on that threat piece of the risk equation to truly understand not just what they are doing, which is informational, but what they are going to do, which is where you provide value," Jones said.

Among the sessions at the conference on intelligence is one on March 5 titled “Bad Intelligence: Or How I Learned to Stop Buying and Love the Basics.”

Data Point No. 5: Security due diligence is complicated.

The cyber-security industry is constantly evolving, with vendors being acquired and divested at a regular rate.

Koetzle said that organizations are often concerned about the risks introduced in merger and acquisition activity as well as divestitures, but those are not the only areas where due diligence is required. In her view, third-party risk from supply chains and partners is the bigger everyday problem that organizations need to deal with that can't simply be solved with a questionnaire.

"We've got a bunch of talks about that at the RSA Conference this year, particularly in the protecting data and the supply chain track," Koetzle said.

Data Point No. 6: Innovation lives in the sandbox.

While there are hundreds of talks at the RSA Conference, there are also other areas of innovation and themes to explore. Ed Skoudis, instructor at the SANS Institute, commented that while there are a lot of great talks at the RSA Conference, attendees should also visit the Sandbox area.

The RSAC Sandbox provides a set of interactive experiences to learn about and test cyber-security skills.

Data Point No. 7: RSAC 2019 will be better.

Every year, the RSA Conference has an overall tag line and theme that is supposed to help set the tone and direction for the event. In 2018, the theme was Now Matters.

"The theme this year is better," Jones said. "I know RSA has put a lot of work and effort in terms of continuing to step up their game regarding the talks that we're seeing, the information that's being provided and the level of thought leadership that's being presented, not just on the main stage, but in the tracks as well."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.