There’s something about cyber security conferences that gives me the shudders. The miles of identical white lattice hovels, the endless din, the lack of ventilation, the tired smiles, the queues. And that’s just the first day.
And, after all that, whether you’re a vendor or an end-user, was it really all worth it? How much value do these conferences add to your life? Most CISOs I talk with say they avoid them like the plague. Or if they do go, it’s not to “do business” or “discover new products”; rather it serves as a chance to catch up with industry peers.
So how can cyber security professionals gain value from events and forums without having to trawl through the over-commercialised fudge?
Last year, I attended a cyber security conference of a rather different nature. Based on a similar model as Les Assises de la Securité, it’s a 3-day event which connects hand-picked C-level decision makers with their peers and selected organisations.
The conference, created and organised by DG Consultants in association with the networking forum SASIG (The Security Awareness Special Interest Group), aims to break down barriers between the delegate and the partner (sponsor/vendor), essentially meeting as equals.
How so? Vendors and end-users communicate in advance, giving the opportunity to end-users to explain their requirements and challenges to the vendors, and the vendors, in turn, explore potential solutions for them. Thus, when the two parties eventually meet at the event, in a prearranged one-to-one meeting, they’re already half-way through their conversations. This, Martin Smith, founder of SASIG, says was a strategy which proved to be “transformational for those end-users – CISOs and their teams - who attended the first edition.”
Martin certainly knows how to put on a stellar event. He’s sussed the alchemy of attracting the right people from across various industries and allowing the rest to flow for itself. In his opening address last year, he said this is about “creating the future in a new way through cooperation and relationship building.” He also called for the cyber security community to jettison the “vendor is the enemy” mentality, adding that “we must treat them with respect and build bridges with them.”
Entertainment was no disappointment either. There were enigma machines, live music, and fine food. And did I mention it was held in Monaco? In fact, part of the event’s success has its setting to thank, not because it’s Monaco (although I can think of worse places) but there’s something about having the time and space to have proper conversations and build your network which you can’t do when you’re stressed and thinking about when the next train home is and having to make a mad dash out of the doors to miss the rush-hour pandemonium.
This is a forum for quality conversations. Conversations with old faces, conversations with new faces. Because it’s these in-person conversations which nurture trust and drive collaboration in this online world. And if last year’s success is anything to go by, it’s certainly an event worth going to this year.
For more information about the event, go to https://www.cybersecurityconnectuk.com/