Coronavirus Will Not Alter Plans for Event in San Francisco
Once again, the RSA Conference will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco (Photo: Mathew J. Schwartz/ISMG)
While public health concerns over the spread of the coronavirus are leading to the cancellation of some international events, the RSA Conference 2020 will proceed as scheduled.
The conference, the largest gathering of cybersecurity professionals in the world, will be held Feb. 24 to 28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Organizers have been posting updates on the show’s website to allay concerns.
Another international event, the Mobile World Congress, pulled the plug on this year’s event in Barcelona after several major sponsors withdrew over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, after several exhibitors pulled out, the board of the GSM Association, which organizes the Mobile World Congress, voted to cancel the event despite reassurances by local officials and the Spanish government that it would have been safe to hold it, according to Reuters.
This year, the Mobile World Congress and the RSA Conference were slated to start on the same day.
The RSA Conference website has been updated five times so far this year with information about the coronavirus and preparations for the gathering.
An update posted Wednesday noted: “The news reports today about other events have naturally raised questions and concerns from our community about whether RSA Conference will take place or be cancelled. RSA Conference plans to proceed as scheduled.”
A conference spokesman declined to offer further comment.
About 83 percent of current registered attendees for the RSA Conference are from the U.S., and 82 percent of companies exhibiting at the show are based in America, according to the event’s website. The show’s organizers point to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that the coronavirus is not currently spreading in the U.S., and that the U.S. government has issued travel restrictions for those who have traveled from China within the last 14 days.
In addition, the RSA organizers says they plan to follow any rules or guidelines regarding coronavirus issued by the CDC, the World Health Organization or San Francisco health officials.
The conference website also contains a list of ways to help prevent the spread of diseases and how those who are susceptible to these viruses can help better protect themselves (see: Coronavirus: How to Plan and Protect).
Even with those reassurances, however, some attendees plan to take extra precautions.
“I plan on going, but I am very concerned. Business dynamics will drastically change as shaking hands will become obsolete,” Tom Kellermann, the head of cybersecurity strategy at VMware, tells Information Security Media Group.
Over the last 10 years, the size of the RSA Conference has grown as a result of growing concerns about managing cyber risks. The show, which had 17,000 attendees in 2008, drew 42,000 attendees last year and forecasts attendance of 45,000 this year.
Keynoters later this month will include U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs, RSA President Rohit Ghai and Steve Grobman, senior vice president and CTO of McAfee.
Major themes this year include designing, developing and maintaining secure products; the convergence of IT and OT security; secure engineering processes; the intertwining of compliance and privacy; and threat intelligence and sharing (see: 10 Hot Cybersecurity Topics at RSA Conference 2020).
Over the last month, concerns about the novel coronavirus have grown as the illness has spread. As of Thursday, there were over 60,000 confirmed cases around the world, with nearly 1,400 deaths associated with the outbreak, according to a research team at Johns Hopkins University.
Some cybercriminals have taken advantage of coronavirus concerns to spread malware by sending phishing emails that profess to offer more information on the illness (see: More Phishing Campaigns Tied to Coronavirus Fears).