Feet on the Street: RSA 2017

RSA is an exciting time for those of us in the cybersecurity world. It’s a meeting of 40,000+ minds who are heavily focused on all things security. Each year we see some themes stand out more than others, and this year, I’d say that identity was a bigger focal point than I’ve seen in years past and without a doubt, for good reason.

A few of the other themes we saw a lot of focus on at the show this year include:

Government Affairs: This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. With the transition in administration and growing concerns over the security of government data and infrastructure, there were many sessions and keynotes zeroing in on addressing federal cybersecurity. In a keynote given by Ron Carback, Defense Intelligence Officer for Cyber at the Defense Intelligence Agency, he noted the Pentagon’s efforts to harness new technologies to ward off cyberthreats, including seeing who has access to what and what they are doing with access. (That sounds like a job for identity!)

Artificial Intelligence + Cybersecurity? You might hear the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’ in the context of cybersecurity and immediately want to roll your eyes (just another buzz word to add to the list!). However, artificial intelligence in the context of machine learning and algorithms is actually a spot-on theme coming out of RSA this year if you dig into the topic a little bit. In our view, machine learning is extremely important in the context of identity: the ability to analyze user behavior to determine what a normal user would be doing with their access and comparing that with what’s actually happening is hugely valuable. Using machine learning and analytics makes that possible – identifying abnormal behavior that might be attached to a malicious insider (vs. regular user access and behavior) can help prevent or block an attack from going any further.

(Almost) Everyone’s Head is in the Cloud

Enterprises across many industries, including highly regulated ones like healthcare and financial, are learning how to adopt cloud technologies so they can reap the benefits and operate efficiently. Much of the conversation this year centered around securing the cloud and the technologies being used to make the transition to cloud both secure and efficient for driving businesses forward.

Planning for the Future

The opening keynote set the mood for this theme, with RSA’s CTO highlighting the importance of “planning for chaos.” The conversation has shifted from “if” you’ll be breached to “when,” and when put in that context, the real meat of the story is how to plan for it and what guards to put up in advance. It’s that “your best offense is a good defense” line in play, and that was a major theme this year. We certainly saw this theme come through in our conversations on the expo floor, where people were looking for ways to not only secure their data and applications but to do so with identity at the center of their security plans.

This year’s conference was as lively as we’ve ever seen. We had people stopping by the SailPoint booth multiple times with questions and interest in what role identity could play in their organizations. What does identity do for the myriad of scenarios we face in these complex times? Well, identity is power, and with it, your organization sets a foundation to control what feels uncontrollable. In what may seem like uncertain times for cybersecurity, the conversations at RSA solidified that thousands of people have devoted their careers to making sure we stay ahead of the game.

Check out this podcast recapping RSA 2017 from two of our SailPoint teammates, Mike Kiser and David Lee: