When the more than 36,000 attendees dispersed at the end of the RSA Conference in February 2020, no one could have foreseen what was coming—staggering worldwide deaths from the coronavirus, emergency pandemic lockdowns, an explosion in the number of people remotely working from home, high-profile cyberattacks, and record amounts of private and public funds poured into combating cyberthreats.
This week, attendees return to San Francisco for the first time in two years for an in-person RSA Conference, with last year’s conference having been held virtually due to COVID-19. Attendees who spoke to CRN say they’re almost in awe at the transformation of the industry since 2020.
“So much has changed in cybersecurity,” said Kyle Hanslovan, CEO of threat researcher Huntress Labs. “They were two years that changed cybersecurity.”
Among other developments, there were the early Zoom hacks of remote videoconferences hosted by companies, government agencies and even kids’ school classes and the rush to fix those and other remote-access security vulnerabilities.
Then there was the advent of more sophisticated supply chain attacks, such as the infamous SolarWinds hack of 2020 and the Kaseya ransomware attack of 2021.
As Hanslovan noted, hackers over the past few years seem to have increasingly shifted their assaults from laptops and servers to more vulnerable routers, VPNs and even unpatched printers.
There was also last year’s Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, which raised grave concerns about the security of the U.S. and world’s utilities and transportation infrastructure. And there was this year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent fears of nation-state cyberwars spreading across the globe.
What Are The Trends In Cybersecurity?
Of course, many of today’s cybersecurity trends actually started emerging pre-COVID 19, said Ed Skoudis, president of the SANS Technology Institute College.
But the pandemic and its various economic aftershocks clearly accelerated and exacerbated many cybersecurity trends. “It put everything in fast forward,” said Skoudis. “Everything has changed over the past two years.”
Those changes have led to record amounts of money spent by governments, businesses and other entities on cybersecurity.
And the cybersecurity industry, flush with new cash, has expanded as a result of that increased demand for cybersecurity.
Venture capital funding for cybersecurity startups, for instance, surged to a record level of $12.4 billion in 2020 and then to another record level of $29.3 billion in 2021, according to Momentum Cyber data.
Brittany Greenfield, founder and CEO of Wabbi, a Boston-based cybersecurity company, said she anticipates many industry players this week will be talking about both growth possibilities.
“Everyone is looking forward to that in-person interaction to see how we’re all doing,” said Greenfield.
Linda Gray Martin, vice president of the RSA Conference, said organizers planned on 21,000 people attending the four-day event this week and it appears final attendance will exceed that number. “We’re seeing really good momentum,” she said.
What To Expect On The Show Floor
Meanwhile, about 400 vendors will be touting their products and services at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.
Greg Murphy, CEO of Ordr, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based cybersecurity startup that last week raised $40 million in Series C funding, said the important thing is that a wide variety of industry people will be finally meeting in person this week at RSA. He noted he plans to sit down with customers and channel and strategic partners whom he hasn’t met in person in years.
“It’s going to be a really interesting conference,” he said. “There’s a lot to discuss and review with others.”
SANS’ Skoudis said he’s looking forward to meeting all the “new people” who have gotten into cybersecurity since 2020. “There’s a lot of new players with great ideas,” he said. “We can learn a lot from each other.”