With 36,000 registrants, 704 speakers and 657 exhibitors, this year’s RSA was as exciting as ever! The steady buzz of conversations swirled around the battle between the DoD and Huawei, security risks associated with the rise of genetic-testing services and of course coronavirus. After four days of the craze that comes with a major cyber conference, Merritt Group found that vendors, reporters and everyone in between are simply looking for a place to wind down and enjoy the last evening of RSA.
This experience from our team’s combined 42 years of attendance at the show, paired with the understanding that RSA provides more to do and see than one can handle, led to a twist for our 7th annual Merritt Group Wine Down party. In addition to the great networking, food and fun, this year’s event featured a compelling panel of cyber reporters to recap the busy week and provide a glimpse into their conversations with leaders from across the industry.
Following are the three biggest insights shared during our panel featuring Bree Fowler, senior editor at Consumer Reports, Tim Wilson, co-founder and editor in chief at Dark Reading, Joe Menn, investigative reporter at Reuters and author of “Cult of the Dead Cow” and “Fatal System Error” and Sean Kerner, IT consultant and freelance tech journalist.
Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
While we are slowly seeing an increase in the number of women at cyber-focused events like RSA, we are still far from being able to call our industry diverse. Our panelists noted that they did see more women on the show floor this year, but men still dominated the speaker line-up and a majority of the smaller sessions. It is a year-round effort to promote women in cyber, and it all starts with STEM programs. As an industry, to foster the next generation of cyber leaders, we need to make an effort to encourage girls and boys alike to explore their interests in technology from a young age.
Make Security Something Everyone Cares About
The media landscape around cyber is evolving at a rapid pace, and it falls to journalists to meet the demands of the industry. For example, over the past few years, we’ve seen more focus around breaking news and “hacks of the day” on Twitter leaving reporters with just 280 characters to relay the story. With this shift, our panelists say they’ve grown more accustomed to breaking news on Twitter, and then focusing their longer stories on analyzing what the breach, threat or new tool means for their readers. They are finding more value in giving readers an action to take in protecting themselves than being the first to tell the story.
Security is no longer only a concern for the IT guy (or gal) sitting in a dark room behind a glowing screen - it’s important to the soccer mom using a GPS to drive kids to practice, the CEO with remote employees and the government as we gear up for election season. Understanding this, reporters are working to provide more value by writing on a broader array of topics for their growing audience.
Good Journalism is Expensive — You Should Pay for It
Type the latest cyber threat into Google, find a good link and BAM! you’re hit with a paywall - we’ve all been there. While this can be frustrating and many of us are conditioned to think we should receive news at no cost, the fact is some reporting shouldn’t (and can’t) be free. Our panelists aren’t implying that you should pay for every new site, but instead that you should consider investing in those that you visit the most and which cover the topics you’re most interested in. Much like the extra charge on Hulu to avoid commercials, news outlets have to find a way to generate revenue to continue bringing us top reports, surveys and news of the day. There is a time and place for everything, including paying for news.
Looking for an insider’s perspective on more cyber topics? Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming series featuring industry CISOs as we gear up for the launch of our 2nd annual CISO survey. In the meantime, check out our last report.