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RSA Europe 2013: What to expect from the security showdown

The biggest conference on the European cyber-security calendar is nearly upon us, as the IT industry and tech press prepare to descend on Amsterdam for RSA Europe 2013, kicking off on Tuesday morning.

The 2012 conference was a decidedly more local affair for ITProPortal. A short journey across the capital took us to the Hilton Metropole hotel in West London where RSA Executive Chairman Art Covellio opened the conference with an attack on privacy activists whose “cries of Big Brother” were holding back the security industry, he argued.

“Privacy advocates think we should be able to endure reasonable danger to protect privacy,” said Covellio in his annual keynote, adding that this was a “dangerous reasoning”. But with the Edward Snowden leaks and subsequent tidal wave of NSA privacy scandals emerging since then, Covellio will surely be forced to tone down any anti-privacy rhetoric this time around.

Indeed, with so much doubt now thrown over the protection of our data, RSA program chair Hugh Thompson told us that this year’s surveillance revelations will see privacy feature among the top three topics debated in Amsterdam.

“If I am processing data inside my company inside a particular country, who has access to that data and is it protected and contained? There is likely to be a healthy amount of discussion around it at this year's conference especially given the more recent press on Edward Snowden,” Thompson said.

“People are asking questions about the technology supply chain in a different way. It used to be that the supply chain was all about: 'could you be hacked by an attacker going after your supply chain?' This year there are a lot of questions around: 'does any of my supply chain sit in a country where the data could be used, viewed, analysed by a foreign entity?'”

Elsewhere, Thompson expects mobility to take up a sizeable chunk of the conference limelight, with the continued smart device explosion bringing more phones and tablets into the corporate network than ever before, exposing companies to a host of new risks. So expect the keynotes and seminars to be rife with talk of BYOD, and the vendor booths overflowing with MDM solutions seeking to harness the mobility trend.

Thompson’s third key topic prediction was a focus on analytics. With industry experts placing increasing emphasis on an intelligence-based approach to security - where the movements of attackers and dangers to the network are dissected in great detail - big data analytics tools are in demand. RSA Europe attendees will no doubt be desperate to know how their own company data can keep them one step ahead of the hackers.

Rounding matters off on the final day and headlining the list of speakers at this year’s event is Lord Sebastian Coe, who’s set to reveal the security challenges that arise when managing one of the biggest shows on Earth; the Olympic Games. Fears were high that London 2012 would be targeted by cyber-criminals in the build to the Games and with so much of the event depending on digital infrastructure, the stakes could scarcely have been higher.

As it happened, government officials later revealed that the opening ceremony was in fact targeted, with the Olympic Stadium’s electrical grid coming under attack. It will be intriguing to see if Coe reveals just how close that famous night in Hackney came to a disastrous blackout.

In addition to his keynote, ITProPortal will be attending an exclusive Q&A session with the former athlete, forming part of our extensive coverage throughout the week and beyond. So be sure to check out our live feed from Amsterdam with all the highlights and insights from this year’s RSA Europe.