On the Ground at the RSA Conference 2017
16 February 2017
Do you do Security?
As I write, I am sitting on the grass outside the massive Moscone Center complex, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” playing in my headphones, taking in the sun and a break from the activities at one of the largest security conferences in the world.
The Moscone Center is hosting a rather famous annual event, the RSA Conference; here, everyone who is anyone in security comes to discuss – you guessed it – cyber security breakdowns and breakthroughs. In some ways it’s like the Grammys (but with less Justin Timberlake – though the cyber-security-world rock stars are probably more important, in the long run). If you work in technology-based security (whether cyber or physical) there’s a good chance you’re here this week. If not, I’m sure you’ve seen articles all over the news about the show. But just who are these RSA folks, you ask? Good Question.
The company, RSA Security, was founded in the early eighties by three friends who worked in the cryptanalysis sector. A decade earlier, the three worked together at MIT to create a practical implementation of public-private key encryption (a type of data security where data is encrypted using two keys, one that is available to everyone and one that is private to the owner) – a process which, up to that point, had only been theoretical. After a good deal of hard work (and a lot of sleepless nights), the three came up with a practical application; and they would later found the company, RSA, to finish designing and implementing the concept. The RSA cryptosystem became so powerful that it skyrocketed RSA to massive size, making them the dominant player in the technology security market for years to come.
Since they founded RSA, the team has used their security know-how to branch into many areas of technology security, as tech has changed with the creation of the internet and online-based applications. It’s important to note that without RSA, everyday essentials that we take for now granted – like online banking (and Intralinks software) – would not be possible.
Today the RSA conference is filled with hundreds of exhibitors showing all kinds of products focused on security, and attendees roam the show meeting with potential clients, users and partners. The show has an energy unique to the tech world, filled as it is with people who seem to care about making technology safer for everyone.
Of course, Intralinks has a booth at the show (N4342 in the North Hall – come and see us!), where we are demonstrating our secure collaboration solutions and platform. That’s where I have been spending most of my time, meeting people and demoing our products. I’ve also had some time to roam the floor and see who else is around. I don’t think it would surprise anyone that many of the biggest tech players are here: Microsoft has a massive presence, as does IBM Security. Major anti-virus vendors such as MacAfee, Sophos and Symantec are here too. A big topic this year is the prevalence of ransomware and how to mitigate it. Ransomware is a particularly nasty flavor of malware that locks all the files on your computer with high-level encryption. If you want the files back, you need to pay a “ransom” to the software creator, usually in Bitcoin. Some even ask you to infect your contacts as well before you can open your files, making it a kind of malicious pyramid scheme.
Other cool items I saw while roaming the expo include a drone detection and mitigation technology system (great for keeping people from spying on you), network traffic monitoring and intrusion-detection systems design to plug into any kind of website, encryption key management systems (if you feel yours isn’t secure enough) and many more.
My favorite was the RSA Holographic Challenge, where you take a test of your security know-how using the still-to-be-released Microsoft Hololens. This program uses augmented realty technology to create a challenge; similar to Pokémon Go!, you see digital items superimposed on the real world. It was totally worth the long wait, and I totally want one when they become available as a consumer product.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, come visit the Intralinks booth N4342 in the North Hall, or tweet me, Nick McCarthy, @biztechnick – and use this hash tag to join the RSA conversation live: #rsac2017.
Not here in the golden gate city? You can visit Intralinks and see how we do security, at intralinks.com.
The RSA conference will be back again next winter again in San Francisco. You can register and maybe meet us here!
Nick McCarthy was a hardened veteran of Intralinks’ advanced support and engineering groups before joining the Presales group as a Sales Engineer. In Presales he focuses on Intralinks applications for Strategic Financial transactions, with a strong interest in Enterprise-level solutioning utilizing Intralinks SaaS platform offerings. Prior to joining Intralinks, Nick worked in many other technology fields and lived in Japan for four years (though his Japanese is a bit rusty these days). He is a native of NYC and has a degree in Computer Science and Information Systems from Pace University.