What to Expect at RSA 2013

Program Chair Hugh Thompson on New Trends, Topics and Tracks
Mobile security, advanced persistent threat and DDoS attacks on banks have been among the hottest security stories. How have they influenced RSA Conference 2013? Program Chair Hugh Thompson previews the event.

It's no accident that the program agenda reflects interest in these security trends, Thompson says.

"When we sit down and look at the submissions that come in, they really are a mirror of this industry," he says.

For a topic such as mobile security, which has so many nuances, program committee members sift through the latest research, comb through the scores of conference submissions and try to hone in on those that best reflect the current state of the industry.

"We take those [submissions], we look, and we say, 'OK, where's the majority of the interest out in the marketplace?' And then we craft the tracks based on the data that comes in," Thompson says. "It's an approach we've taken now for the past three years, and it's worked pretty well."

Ultimately, only 3 percent to 7 percent of conference submissions are accepted.

Among the changes to the RSA Conference: This year's event features seven new track sessions, including Breaking Research, CISO Viewpoint and Human Element, which covers insider threats, social engineering and security awareness.

"This [Human Element] track is dedicated to where security intersects with our personal decisions," Thompson says.

In an exclusive interview in advance of RSA Conference 2013, Thompson discusses:

  • Trends that inspired this year's agenda;
  • New conference tracks;
  • How to get the most out of the event - whether you're a veteran or a rookie.

Thompson is program committee chair for the RSA Conference, the world's leading information security gathering. In addition, he's also chief security strategist at People Security and an adjunct professor in the computer science department at Columbia University in New York. He is an expert in application security and has co-authored four books on the topic including, How to Break Software Security: Effective Techniques for Security Testing (with Dr. James Whittaker, published by Addison-Wesley, 2003), and The Software Vulnerability Guide (with Scott Chase, published by Charles River, 2005).

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