RSA Conference Offers Help To Jobless

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In a nod to the economic climate, the conference offered laid-off security pros scholarships to attend the event in 2009, and there will be a special workshop for job seekers and employers.

While the U.S. economy may have contracted, the US RSA Conference has gone the opposite way.

The annual security conference has actually expanded to a total of 17 class tracks and 240 sessions. Still, the number of exhibitors is down to about 325 in 2009, Sandra Toms LaPedis, area vice president and general manager of the conference, told eWEEK.

“We realise that it is a difficult economic climate out there, and a lot of companies have limited travels to trade shows and training budgets just generally,” LaPedis said. “At this time our attendance numbers are tracking slightly down, but we also feel that it’s important to do the right things for the industry.”

With that in mind, conference organisers provided scholarships this year for security professionals who were laid off to help pay for them to attend, and ISC² (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium) is holding a workshop from noon to 1:30 p.m. on 23 April to provide information about job opportunities and allow employers to search resumes. The workshop will be held in the Purple Room 305, said Sarah E. Bohne, director of Communications & Member Services for ISC².

The show will also be coming to the UK in October but it’s not know at this stage whether laid-off European IT Pros will be offered similar help. However the show will have tracks on professional development, according to details online.

On the programming side of things, attendees to the US show can expect a little bit more than in years past. Two new tracks have been added: Physical Security and a Hot Topics category to cover relevant late-breaking news in the period leading up to the conference. The Physical Security track was created at the request of attendees, who in many cases are seeing the physical and information security realms converge. The physical security sessions will focus on topics such as video surveillance, SCADA and distributed/process control systems.

Conference organisers also added the Innovation Sandbox, a reincarnation of the conference’s traditional Innovation Station. The program, which is being held on 20 April, showcases startups and gives attendees a peek at some future developments that may shape information security.

“There’s an area where you can actually view the 10 companies that were selected to participate in [the] sandbox, and then those companies also have a faceoff … and give a 5-minute pitch about their company to a group of panelists that includes VCs [venture capitalists and] that also includes information security professionals,” LaPedis said.

The conference has also added encore sessions to give attendees a chance to hear presentations they may have missed earlier in the week. LaPedis said she is looking forward in particular to the Hackers and Threats tracks.

“I always learn something that will make me paranoid the rest of the week,” she said.

The US conference will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from 20 April to 24.

RSA Conference Europe will be held at Hilton London Metropole from the 20 October to 22.