Hard to believe it but RSA week is almost here! With 15 of our security clients attending and planning our own RSA “Wine Down” event, our team has been rather busy since early December! Once again, the RSA show floor will be bustling next week with more than 40,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors taking over the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
So what’s different this year?
Well, for starters, conference goers are very concerned about their health. With the Coronavirus spreading from China to other countries, and flu outbreaks all over, staying healthy amidst a sea of germs is top of mind for everyone right now. Heightening the concern, last week, Mobile World Congress was cancelled for the first time ever and IBM announced it was pulling out of RSA.
So for those of us still heading to San Francisco, we need to be extra cautious this year and put our health first. Because I have put so much emphasis on improving my own health over the past few years, and I know firsthand the toll that a 5-day conference can take on one’s immune system, I wanted to share some important tips I’ve learned over the years so that our infosec community can enjoy the week – and come home feeling happy and healthy:
- Take Emergen-C and bring your vitamins from home. Take Emergen-C before you get on the airplane and don’t forget to take all your vitamins with you. You need to boost your immune system, so it’s important to get high doses of Vitamin C in the days leading up to your flight and keep taking it during the show. You also need B and E vitamins to maintain stamina throughout the week. A multivitamin may be easiest to bring but be sure to take it every morning!
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration will only land you in the emergency room, especially if you are out late at night drinking alcohol or imbibing a lot of tea and coffee during the week. Be sure to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated. Keep a recyclable water bottle with you and use the water stations all around the Moscone to fill it up!
- Pack sore throat lozenges. You will most likely lose your voice if you have to talk a lot or present during meetings. Keeping cough drops in your bag can help ease the pain of a sore throat. If all else fails, go to Starbucks (yes, my shameless plug!) and ask for a “Medicine Ball”–an herbal tea blend that will ease your sore throat or cold. I drank three of these during Black Hat last year and they helped tremendously!
- Don’t skip meals and pack snacks for eating on-the-go. With back-to-back meetings, eating proper meals can be tough to squeeze into your schedule. Be sure to pack snacks such as almonds and protein bars to keep your stamina, especially if you can’t get a real meal until later in the day. Or ask a colleague to bring you a fruit smoothie to tide you over.
- Wash your hands often and use LOTS of hand sanitizer. Most doctors are recommending basic hygiene right now to avoid the Coronavirus and flu. Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch anything on your face. Be aware of shaking hands with others, touching door knobs, dirty bathrooms and pens, and use hand sanitizer as much as possible–especially before eating snacks and meals.
- Get ample rest. I know, I know...this is way easier said than done, and I’m guilty of it too. With a lot of fun parties and networking events going late into the evenings, before you know it, your bedtime might be 2 am. Unless you’re in your 20s and can survive on Red Bull and coffee the next day, you need to call it a night earlier and get 6-8 hours of solid sleep. Doctors agree that you need that much sleep to fully recharge your body, so don’t ignore it, especially during a busy week like RSA!
- Keep your sick germs to yourself. If you happen to be sick during RSA week, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to wear a medical-grade mask. Trust me, everyone will understand and appreciate your efforts to keep your germs away from them. You may also want to recover with Netflix and soup in your hotel room in the evenings versus going to a lot of events and spreading germs around.
- Squeeze in a few workouts for stress reduction. There is a strong correlation between stress and immune system function. RSA is a stressful week but you can control your cortisol levels by working out. There are plenty of gyms inside the hotels and yoga studios and Soul Cycle are right around the Moscone. Take an hour break at the gym and you will feel much better. Your body will thank you for it later!
- Don’t forget to make some “me” time. Like most busy conferences, you will spend the majority of your time with your colleagues and business partners strategizing, networking or socializing. Though exciting, this can be both physically and mentally exhausting (especially for those who are introverts). Make sure you pencil yourself into your schedule. Even five minutes of meditation or mindless TV can re-energize you for the next meeting.
- Hit the spa during or after RSA. Let’s admit it: there’s nothing better than a great back or foot massage to ease the pain of running around the Moscone Center for five days straight. Treat yourself to a spa package and let a masseuse work out the tension in your muscles. It’s OK to reward yourself for a job well done!
Most of these tips are obvious and we know them already. But too often, we fail to put them into practice. In the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, I just want to remind you: there is nothing more important than your health. After 15 years of attending this show, that’s not just the “Mom” in me talking here. Between the great networking and educational events, RSA can be amazing but we all need to do our part, especially this year, to take good care of ourselves and others around us.
Cheers to our cyber and physical hygiene!!