Now in my most senior IT journalism position, this week I got to attend my eighth (sheesh, where did the time go?) Infosecurity Europe. Of course because of my current position I was part of the organising team which allowed me to get on site two days before the public hit the floor.
As I’ve said before, this blog is about me and my views and I’m not talking about my day job, but to give some little insights: I now have a new appreciation of the amount of work that goes into producing and staging a content. Having worked with Steve, Adrian, Nik and Jamie at 44CON in the past and partnering with B-Sides London in 2014, I am no stranger to the task, but the “all hands in” effort of the crew that put together was totally admirable.
I’ve known most of the team at Infosec for all of my time in this industry and this year there were several new faces, including in our editorial team, and the buy-in to make a great show paid off with busy floors, a fantastic speaking track and more new vendors than I had the time to talk to. This was also the 21st anniversary of the show, in which it continues to expand in all ways -in fact people have emailed me after the show to comment on how much busier the show felt. Sadly this was the first time since 2012 that I didn’t make it to B-Sides London, so I’ll be on the look out for the official T-shirt at a future conference.
Some highlights? Well I was impressed with Mikko Hypponen’s keynote where he talked about the repeated hacking tactics and “fog of cyber war”, I was honoured to induct Brian Honan into the Infosecurity Europe’s Hall of Fame – essentially a lifetime achievement award with a keynote session and endless press calls for the big Irishman.
I was also delighted to catch up with some vendors I had not spoken to for some time (albeit on the record), including Akamai, Rapid7, Tripwire, Egress, Bromium, Cyber Ark and ThreatConnect. In some stream crossing, some vendors informed me that we had met whilst I was an analyst, leading to me draining my brain for a clear memory of what they do.
The middle day saw the fifth annual European Security Blogger Awards, where again some familiar names were among the winners, but there was some new names represented which is always good for the research and speaker community.
I’ve always been a strong supporter of start-ups as these are the companies without the big marketing and PR budgets, who find it hard to approach someone like a journalist with an idea. After all most start-ups are built by techy types so would not know who to talk to, what to propose as a way of starting a conversation with a journalist, or how not to present it as a sales pitch. I met several companies in their infancy at the Cyber Innovation Zone who are on this path, and a live blog from their pitch fest is available on http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/blogs/uks-innovative-small-cyber/ . As keynote speaker William Hague said, the show floor has so much innovation on display that it’s hard to avoid the bigger booths to get to the companies with the ideas that will shake the industry up. Remember, FireEye founder Ashar Aziz started in a living room with some invested money and an idea.
Ok so Infosec has its critics, but so does Defcon, and so do B-Sides events. The reason we need these shows to happen – be it with a big show floor and professionally organised, or run by a community of volunteers – is to bring people together in one place and get the industry to communicate. If it were not for Infosec I would not have met a lot of people over the years who have gone on to be great contacts, and heck, some of them are still in the same job as they were in 2009.
One thing I didn’t get out of Infosecurity Europe 2016 was a decent swag collection, after a previous blog about needing a new rucksack I had hoped to get one and if they were on offer, I sadly missed out.
For me, this week I also realised that I had done four Infosec’s in four different jobs: 2013 for SC Magazine UK, 2014 for IT Security Guru, 2015 for 451 Research, and 2016 for Infosecurity Magazine. All great experiences, all worthwhile. As for me now, well I’m delighted to be in my job until mid-August to enable me to get to the Vegas conferences and hopefully I’ll have some good news about the future in the coming weeks, but once again – Europe got together to talk security, and Infosecurity week was awesome. Same again next year please.