RSA Security Show Helps IT Pros Back To Work

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Security show in London offers ten £950 passes for free to unemployed who demonstrate they are ready to help themselves

Prior to the recession, it might have been valid to argue that the cliche of it not being what you know but who you know was an outdated hangover which no longer rang true in a mature and professional society.

But recognising the role that “face time” can play in securing a new job, the organisers of an IT security conference have hit on the idea of giving some job-seeking IT pros free access to the event and the promise of careers advice and other services.

In a statement released this week, RSA Conference Europe 2009 – the European version of the successful US show which regular attracts tech luminaries such as Bill Gates – has announced a scheme to allow ten unemployed security professionals into the show for free.

A full-priced ticket for the event costs around £950 for the three day show which this year will feature keynotes from tech security experts such as RSA president Art Coviello, and security consultant Hugh Thompson as well as other speakers from companies such as BT, ING, and PayPal.

“Many security professionals have lost their jobs as a result of the current economic environment,” said Linda Lynch, RSA Conference Europe manager. “This new programme provides another way for RSA Conference to help industry practitioners enhance their skills and improve their career prospects.”

But while RSA, and partner company Acumin Consulting which will be running some of the careers help sessions, appear to be keen to give something back to security pros who have stumbled on hard times, they only seem prepared to help those who are ready to help themselves. The lucky recipients of the free show passes will have to not only have to have actually attended the show in the past – in the case of five of the “grant” tickets – but also complete a 1000 character essay on why they want to attend the show, as well as a 750 character biography.

The show’s organisers also claim recipients of the free tickets must “be willing to participate in on-site promotional activities” which sources close to the conference confirm will mercifully probably involve some blogging rather than carrying around an RSA Security sandwich board for the duration of the event.

Despite claims that the worst of the recession may be over, tech companies are continuing to cut jobs and training schemes. Last week IT giant Fujitsu announced that it was axing around 1200 positions in the UK – roughly ten percent of its UK workforce while struggling BT announced that it was suspending its graduate recruitment scheme next year.

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As well as helping security pros back to work, the RSA show will also feature a keynote from a man who famously put a whole bank’s-worth of employees out of a job. Former “Rogue Trader” turned management consultant Nick Leeson is the guest speaker at this year’s show and will be addressing issues such as how mismanagement impacted the banking crisis.

Leeson famously brought down Barings Bank in 1995 after a series of unauthorised and risky trades accumulated to losses of £827 million – twice the bank’s trading capital.

Aside from Leeson, the RSA Conference will draw inspiration from another divisive character – Edgar Allan Poe. Each year, the RSA event focuses on a different personality with some ties to information security such as World War II cryptographer and computing pioneer Alan Turing at last year’s event.

As well as conjuring up horror stories, Poe was fascinated by cryptography which he included in his fiction such as the short story – “The Gold Bug” – which is based around the solution of a cipher, which turns out to be a map to hidden treasure.

The Conference takes place from 20th -22nd October 2009, at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel and is open for registration now.


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