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2019 RSA Conference Preview: An Insider's Guide to What's Hot

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The RSA Conference is one of the biggest events of the year in the InfoSec industry, drawing vendors, experts, security practitioners and the curious from near and far.

The theme for the 2019 event is "Better," with the idea being that organizations, vendors and the cybersecurity industry as a whole can continue to do better. The RSA Conference 2019 takes place from March 4-8 across the cavernous North, South and West buildings of the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with additional sessions and events overflowing into the adjacent Marriott Marquis hotel.

The conference is overwhelming to the newcomer and the veteran attendee alike, with so many things to see and do, often at the same time.

One of the best ways to have a successful experience at the RSA Conference is to have an idea of what to expect and to have a plan, so we hope this preview proves helpful.

Keynotes

No security conference on the planet has the same breadth and depth of keynotes as the RSA Conference USA, with leaders of tech companies, government officials and other well-known public figures, and CEOs of large technology vendors all sharing their experiences.

For 2019, RSA Conference will have more keynotes than ever, with two keynote stages. The traditional vendor and guest speaker keynotes will happen on the Moscone West Stage, while a broader set of panels and experts will deliver keynotes on the Moscone South Stage.

In total, there are some 31 keynotes scheduled across four days (March 5-8). That's a staggering volume of content -- and there are over 500 sessions too.

Tech leaders

The kickoff keynote at RSA Conference is always done by RSA Security, and this year RSA Security President Rohit Ghai will be talking about the trust landscape, which is increasingly under cyberattack.

The idea of trust is also a theme that Google executives will be talking about in a March 8 keynote, titled Engineering Trust and Security in the Cloud Era. Among the CEOs and tech leaders taking the keynote stage at RSA will be George Kurtz, CEO of CrowdStrike, who will be talking about hacking Mac OS alongside CTO Dmitri Alperovitch.

Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, and Arista Networks CEO Jayshree Ullal are set to deliver a keynote on secrets of a successful cloud journey. Mary O'Brien, recently named General Manager of IBM Security, will be speaking about how to change an organization's cybersecurity approach for the better. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger will be on the Moscone West Stage, where he plans to talk about three things the security industry isn't talking about but should be.

Cisco executives, including Liz Centoni, SVP and General Manager for IoT, and and Matt Watchinski, Vice President of the Global Threat Intelligence Group, are speaking on the risks of Internet of Things (IoT) devices as an emerging threat vector. Other CEOs hitting the keynote stage include Kevin Mandia of FireEye and Stuart McClure of Cylance, among others.

Government officialsRSA Cryptographers' panel

Government officials are also making an appearance on the RSA Conference stage, among them General Paul Nakasone, who holds the joint command of both the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command. FBI Director Christopher Wray will also be on the keynote stage talking about the role of his agency in combating cyber threats.

Among the most anticipated keynotes in any given year at the RSA Conference is the annual cryptographer panel, which brings together the world's most renowned cryptographers. At the RSA 2018 event, cryptographers were blunt about the state of cybersecurity and weren't particularly enthusiastic about blockchain either.

Sandbox events

Aside from the events occurring across the Moscone Conference center buildings, there are multiple events at the Marriott Marquis, including the annual RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox Contest.

For 2019, there are 10 vendors that are finalists in the competition and are set to showcase their wares in a series of three-minute pitches on March 4 before a panel of judges between 2 and 3:30 p.m. Judges are expected to announce the winner at 4:30 p.m.

Check out eSecurity Planet's overview of the 10 finalists to find out more about the companies that will be onstage at the Innovation Sandbox contest.

RSA Conference Launch Pad

The Sandbox area will also play host to the RSA Conference Launch Pad event on March 5 between 4 and 4:45, where NuID, Spherical Defence and Styra will present their company's technologies to a panel of venture capitalists in a bid to gain new funding.

Early Stage Expo

The innovation sandbox and the launch pad aren't the only areas where attendees can see more than 50 startup vendors showcasing their innovations. Several of the same vendors from the Innovation sandbox and launch pad contests -- including Axonius, NuID and Eclypsium — will be at the expo. The Early Stage Expo is located in the Marriott Marquis, Yerba Buena 9 area, from March 5-7.

Vendors

The largest single area and biggest draw for the tens of thousands of RSA attendees is often the expansive exhibit halls where vendors set up booths to explain their products and services.

Just like the two sets of keynote locations, there are two different vendor expo halls at RSA Conference. Getting lost in the expo halls is a right of passage for any RSA Conference attendee, but there are floor plans to help navigate the maelstrom.rsa floor plan 2019

The North expo hall is often considered to be the primary, as it is home to RSA Security itself, which commands a massive 70-by-60 foot booth that is the first thing attendees will see when entering the hall. The North Hall is also home to other big vendors, including Cisco, McAfee, Cisco, Symantec, VMware, IBM Security and Intel, among many others.

Check out the full floor plan for the North Hall here.

The South Hall is also packed solid with vendors, with the largest booth size coming in at 30 by 30 feet. Among the many vendors in the South Hall are Trend Micro, Webroot, F5 Networks, Mimecast, Citrix and many others.

Check out the full floor plan for the South Hall here.

With over 700 exhibitors across all the expo areas, it's a challenge for anyone to take it all in, so plan ahead.

Key SessionsRSA Program guide

There are over 500 sessions at the 2019 RSA Conference that span every facet of the cybersecurity landscape. The full conference guide to all the sessions (available here) is an overwhelming document, including everything that is happening.

So which sessions should you go to? Be sure to check out eSecurity Planet's guide to RSA Conference sessions that shouldn't be missed.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eSecurityPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.