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| 3 min read
| Jun 7, 2022
| by Andy Rodger

RSA Conference Returns: Day 1 Keynote Summary


The moment we’ve been waiting for is here! RSA Conference is back, live and in-person. While you can correctly point out that the conference never really went away—it was a virtual event in 2021—many folks in our industry would agree that it just wasn’t the same. Albeit with smaller crowds than pre-pandemic years and four months later than originally scheduled, it’s great to be back and the energy is high.

RSA picked “Transform” as its theme for this year’s event. It’s rather apropos considering the state of our industry, our workforce, security technologies, the threat landscape, and the very nature of this event. It seems that every year represents a “turning point” for the world of cybersecurity, and 2022 is no different. The keynote speakers who kicked off the 2022 event were all inspiring and hopeful for the future of the security space. But before they came out, the crowd was treated to a special performance…

You know something special is about to happen when a beatboxer kicks off a conference. And when that beatboxer is followed by the rest of her group, Freestyle Love Supreme, the energy gets amped way up!

Side bar: If you missed out on the keynote (or you just can’t get enough), we’re hosting freestyle rapper and YouTube sensation, Harry Mack, at our booth (S649) on Tuesday, June 7, at 11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm PT. (Great minds think alike, @RSAC!)

Rohit Ghai, the CEO of RSA, bravely took the stage following the special act for the opening keynote. His address, titled, “The Only Constant,” examined the cybersecurity industry’s experience in shaping transformational shifts that will determine the “next” normal.

He discussed how the world has been living with disruption, like the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, and explored how physical disruption can create digital ripples—and vice versa. (We all remember how the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack resulted in long lines at the gas pump.)

According to Ghai, the Ukrainian hacker army is three times the size of Ukraine’s actual military force. Ghai pointed out that we are moving towards a more hyperconnected world where the physical and digital realms are indistinguishable, and where we’re going to need to know how to deal with a torrent of global disruptions.

He ended his address on an encouraging note, stating, “This is our story. Let’s not allow anyone else to write it.”

Cisco’s EVP and GM of security and collaboration, Jeetu Patel, and SVP and GM of Cisco’s security business group, Shailaja Shankar, took to the stage next to ask, “What Do We Owe One Another in the Cybersecurity Ecosystem?” Patel outlined three trends that Cisco is hearing from their 300,000+ customers:

  1. Businesses are competing as ecosystems, rather than as individual entities,
  2. Everyone is an insider, and can be considered a potential threat, and
  3. Hybrid work is here to stay.

Patel believes that security resilience is the key for organizations faced with these significant cybersecurity challenges. Shankar then described an issue that compounds these potential threats; a concept she’s termed the “Security Poverty Line.” This is the baseline security posture companies need to deal with cyber threats.

Getting companies above this poverty line, Shankar argued, requires more than information sharing and volunteering to help smaller or struggling organizations—it means truly investing in their security capabilities and even sharing the security risk they might encounter.

Tom Gillis, VMware’s SVP and GM of networking and advanced security business group, took to the stage next to reframe our thinking away from separating on-premises, private cloud security from public cloud security. He instead advocated for separating security between traditional virtualized applications and Kubernetes applications.

It was an interesting shift in perspective on the usual borders that separate security strategies.

Lastly, the microphone passed to Michele Flournoy, the co-founder and managing partner of WestExec Advisors and Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, and the first woman to hold the job. The conversation tackled “Rethinking the Cybersecurity Challenge From an Intelligence Community (IC) Perspective,” and how the intelligence community is collaborating with industry and international partners to rethink how we design networks, and the cybersecurity that protects them.

One common thread across the keynote speakers was a hopeful, uplifting, and encouraging tone. Too often in our industry, companies use fear, uncertainty, and doubt to get their points across and compel action. Today, the keynotes centered on how we, as an industry, can pull together to change the world for the better.

We’ll be on the showfloor at booth S649 in the South Hall all week! Stop by to say hi, book a meeting or schedule a demo, and keep an eye out for more daily recaps of our time at Moscone—just like this one.


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RSA 2022

Expel at RSA Conference 2022. Visit us at booth S-649 to see how we do seriously better security operations.
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