IT and Cybersecurity

RSA 2019 call for speakers

For Maryland cybersecurity companies, the 2019 RSA Conference in San Francisco offers an outstanding opportunity to show the world how to protect data. While the conference is still seven months away – it takes place March 4-8 in San Francisco – RSA is already calling for speakers.

For consideration in all tracks, however, the deadline is August 9. The deadline for consideration in one of RSA’s two Hackers & Threats tracks is September 1.

General Keith Alexander, founder and CEO of IronNet Cybersecurity in Fulton, Md., has been featured in numerous panels and sessions at RSA. As an entrepreneur – and as the former commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and former director of NSA – he offers some sound advice for those pursuing an opportunity to present during RSA 2019:

  • Pick a topic that’s timely and compelling. Show it to your CTO and your best friend who doesn’t work in technology. If both would attend – or at least consider attending – you probably have a winner.
  • In describing the proposal, explain why it’s timely and what makes it compelling, and why the presenter or panelists are the right person(s) to present this particular topic.
  • Make sure your proposal description offers an explanation of how it will provide concrete, actionable takeaways or significant learning outcomes for the audience.
  • If it’s a panel, make sure the group represents a good spectrum of the potential views on a topic.
  • If it’s a solo presentation, describe how the presentation will keep the audience engaged.

Evan Blair, co-founder and senior vice president of Baltimore-based ZeroFOX, has also been featured at RSA. As an entrepreneur – and as a cybersecurity expert – he has some solid recommendations for those proposing a topic for RSA 2019:

  • Increase your chances that your topic will be selected and submit with a co-presenter from another organization, even better if they (or their company) have a “name brand” in the security space.
  • Have fun with it – the goal is to educate AND entertain the audience. RSA has strong technical tracks but oftentimes they prioritize TED-style presentations vs. hardcore research.
  • Stay away from product pitches! RSA is strictly a no pitch show and anything that whiffs of a product pitch will get you disqualified.
  • Make sure you have takeaways that can be concretely implemented by the attendees – this includes checklists or a 120-day plan to better prepare themselves for XYZ attack type or issue.
  • Get creative with your titles and abstracts – these are the tools RSA uses to attract people to your session and the name of the game is definitely butts in seats!

RSA also offers tips for speaker sessions as well, and proposals may be submitted online. For inspiration, check out Evan Blair’s session at last year’s conference. And here’s a clip from RSA 2018 featuring General Alexander and Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Israel’s 8200 Intelligence Unit, discussing their former roles in the private sector, as well as their strategies for building security companies in the private sector. Catch the entire 45-minute discussion – along with other RSA 2018 sessions – at RSAC onDemand. See you at RSA 2019!

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Maureen Kilcullen

Maureen Kilcullen