Skip navigation
word security in front of laptop screen Getty Images

RSA Conference 2021: Different, but Just as Relevant

Despite being a virtual event this year, the security conference will still have a full slate of keynotes and sessions, as well as its popular security mashups and innovation sandbox—and even a digital expo.

Last year, the RSA Conference was the last in-person event for many security and IT professionals before everything shut down and went virtual. This year, once again RSA is virtual, just like everything else—but it’s still the same conference, with the same attention to detail and great speakers.

RSA Conference 2021 takes place May 17-20, with a very relevant theme—resilience. Everything in 2021 revolves around preparing for and adapting to changing conditions. There is even a specific track dedicated to it, focused on securing the remote workforce. There will be more than 300 sessions—some with small groups and some with larger groups—split into more than a dozen tracks. The keynote speakers will include many cybersecurity visionaries as well chief information security officers (CISOs) from major companies such as Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, Box and Google Cloud.

Tracks include analytics, intelligence and response; anti-fraud; cloud security and virtualization; DevSecOps and software security; hackers and threats; identity; machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence; open source tools; policy and government; privacy; risk management; security strategy; and much more. Britta Glade, senior director of content and curation for the conference, pointed out that the sessions are designed to provide actionable approaches, with a focus on resilience.

In addition to traditional track sessions, there will be more interactive learning sessions, a series of keynotes, a digital expo (a take on the massive expo hall experience, minus the free T-shirts!) and the ever-popular innovation sandbox, which enables innovators to demonstrate their new cybersecurity technology ideas.

Another popular feature—security mashups—will also be back. These are designed to expose attendees to additional cybersecurity considerations that aren’t reflected on the other tracks, such as threat hunting, deep social engineering and demonstrations of cyberattacks on autonomous vehicles.

Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum and long-time attendee of the conference, will be moderating a panel discussion at RSA Conference 2021 about society's rapid digital transformation in response to COVID-19, the role of data in recovery, and the new and urgent opportunities for businesses and governments to protect data. The goal of his session is to help privacy and security leaders use data to deal with COVID-19, while seeking to ensure that responsible privacy measures are in place.

Virtual vs. In-Person Events

As for the virtual nature of the conference, Polonetsky isn’t worried.

“Comparing the virtual to the in-person is really apples and oranges, as virtual events force us to redefine what we expect from these programs. Although I terribly miss the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones that the in-person conference provides, I can hear from a wider variety of speakers and a more diverse global audience this way,” he said. “I’m hoping that when events return to in-person, we will take advantage of what we have learned about involving people who can’t travel and those who aren’t as comfortable networking in hallways.”

Brian Johnson, who also attends the RSA Conference every year, noted that in pre-COVID days, the conference was especially worth attending for discovering new startups, recruiting, and enhancing company and personal brands by participating in speaking sessions. Johnson, chief security officer of Armorblox, also valued the chance to attend meetings that took place in the hotels and coffee shops near the convention center.

At RSA Conference 2021, he expects to keep a close eye on sessions related to email security, messaging security and API security. He also expressed interest in learning the latest about supply chain security; operational security; risk management and quantification; container automation and management; and privacy control, discovery and management.

While the virtual nature of the conference will definitely be different, organizers are determined to make it relevant and valuable.

“With such a wide range of tracks and experiences, there is sure to be something for everyone, no matter if you look at the industry vertically or horizontally,” Glade said. “Important things happen every day in our industry. You can be assured that we’ll have content that will be immediately applicable for practitioners from across the industry and from around the globe.”

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.