Even if you’re not a “tech geek”, you owe it to yourself to try and visit, at least once, a large international technology conference. Tens of thousands of people filling up the streets, young and mature companies who try to “hunt” the next client and clients who enjoy being pursued. Like a tsunami flooding the streets. During the days, racing from one meeting to another and from one lecture to another. In the evenings, dozens of events and parties held by the companies for their potential clients.
This is exactly what the RSA annual conference is like. I have been coming back here every year for almost a decade now, and I must confess that I haven’t got used to it yet. It’s a little like being sucked into a hurricane and hope you come out safely on the other end. Thousands of people, dozens of meetings and events. It’s really breathtaking.
So, before the dust settles and we move to the next conference, here are five insights that summarize to me RSA conference 2019:
1. The cyber industry is stronger than ever I know it sounds like a cliché. It seems that everyone has been predicting for a long time that the bubble is about to burst and that there’s no real innovation. Well, this year’s exhibition was larger than ever, with 45,000 attendance, and about 700 companies which presented their products. According to Gartner, in 2019, the expenses for information security products will be $124 billion, compared to $101.54 billion only 2 years prior (2017). Cyber threats are increasing and companies continue to buy. At least for now, we don’t see the bubble bursting.
2. A lot of noise, and rare Diamonds During 2018, over $5 billion were invested in the cyber industry. Because of the large sums that continue to move the industry, the amount of presenting companies is infinite. In the first few years that I visited here, I made sure to see all presenters, to understand what their product presumes to do, and I occasionally stopped to ask questions. Lately, this became impossible. After half an hour in the exhibition halls, you are guaranteed to get a headache. The amount of information is simply overwhelming. And here lies the challenge for clients and companies today; how to identify the interesting companies through the commotion? The sense of discomfort is increasing among a vast number of clients. On the other hand, the great challenge for a young company is similar; how to break through the wall of noise and make others notice you? This is not a simple task.
3. Israel has a place of respect in the industry On Wednesday (March 6th), at the peak of the convention, an announcement was made that the famous Israeli researcher, Prof. Adi Shamir, will not be attending the conference because his visa application to the U.S. was denied (by the way, Prof. Shamir is one of the inventors of the encryption method, RSA. In fact, the S in RSA is named after him). Without a doubt, this is an upsetting and irritating event, but in my opinion, the exception that does not testify to the norm. The exhibition this year was more Israeli than ever. An American colleague who was a judge in the annual start-up competition (RSA Sandbox), told me with a smile — “I think all competitors this year were Israeli”. I remembered how five years ago we were proud that our portfolio company, LightCyber, was representing Israel in the competition (and was later acquired by Palo Alto). And indeed, this year 30% of the competitors were Israeli. And furthermore, the winner of the competition was Axonius — an Israeli company established in 2017 (way to go, guys!). In addition to Israeli start-ups, big Israeli corporations stood out as well, such as Check Point Software and CyberArk. Additionally, it was impossible to miss Israeli companies that were recently acquired by international corporations (in 2018 alone — Solebit , Demisto Blog and Luminate Security). Of course, they represented the purchasing companies in the exhibition, but they did so with an obvious Israeli grace. At the center of the exhibition stood the Israeli pavilion of the Export Institute with about 20 young companies.
4. Prominent trends — Zero Trust So what was different this year? In my opinion, one of the more prominent trends this year was Zero trust — if information security experts in the past believed that they built enough obstacles to prevent offenders from penetrating the network/computer and anyone that’s already in that network is probably “ok”, today, the opposite trend is growing: every network and every computer are vulnerable and might have been hacked, and that’s why every computer or user in the network must be addressed with suspicion. Among other trends that seemed to have grown stronger this year: Cloud Security, Security for IoT- such as our company CyberX, and Threat Intelligence — such as our company IntSights .
5. Women in Cyber For the first time, this year the number of female speakers was almost the same as the number of male speakers. The percent of female speakers in the convention this year grew by 53% in comparison to the previous year. Among the female speakers, you could find representatives from companies like Xerox, Cisco, RSA, and Microsoft. Among the prominent women in the exhibition, we also had Israeli speakers like: Maya Horowitz (Director and Threat Intelligence& research at Check Point), Keren Elazari (Analyst and Researcher at Tel Aviv University), Amit Elazari Bar On (Director, Global Cybersecurity Policy at Intel Corporation, Intel Corporation) and Tal Rabin (Distinguished Researcher and the Manager of the Cryptographic Research Group, IBM Research). See you all next year!