RSA 2017 in San Francisco brought us gizmos and gadgets galore, leaving security-conscious attendees the difficult task of sifting through all the information they gleaned to find a security strategy that works best for their organization.
Official numbers have not yet been released, but some estimated that as many as 40,000 people attended the conference, up from 30,000 attendees last year. So, you can say the scale of the event is large.
The expo floor was one of the most popular attractions of the conference, with hundreds of attendees waiting each morning for the doors to open.
If you're a vendor, the expo hall can give you a lot of exposure, either introducing attendees to products or helping emphasize the cool factor, which can keep customers loyal. It's not always about the flashiness of a booth that can gain a viewer's attention. Rather, cleverness can go a long way and so can promising "swag." Those Bluetooth speakers and weird stress balls are much appreciated by avid attendees. However, USB drives as giveaways are a bit overdone.
Hoping to provide insight into the expo floor, here is a list of some of my favorites. For the record, this is a completely subjective look at the vendors booths at RSA.
One key takeaway: the marketing sector is alive and well.
This one has to go to the vendor that sponsored the entire week-long conference. RSA gets prime real estate in one of the two exhibit halls. What started as a meeting of cryptographers ballooned over time to become one of the largest cybersecurity conferences on the planet.
In terms of its booth, RSA did not pull punches. With dozens of sales professionals on the floor, RSA was plying its wares while catering to the tired conference-goer with a latte stand. Much appreciated, RSA.
I may have declared my favorite booth early, but I am a sucker for pop culture references and Bromium went above and beyond. Channeling "Breaking Bad," the virtualization company's theme was to help organizations "break bad" and keep equipment clean. Bromium had someone dressed in bright yellow protective gear and a mask affixed to the top of his head. It even had a mock RV housing demos.
What really did it for me was one of its giveaways: Blue, er, rock candy in a tiny packet. More than anything, it gets people talking.
The most sneakily charming
Amidst the glitz and the glamour of the conference, there was something extremely enjoyable about seeing attendees play a good 'ol fashioned game of Jenga, or at least the cybersecurity equivalent.
At the Hewlett Packard Enterprise booth, attendees volunteered for rousing full-sized game with different technologies and methodologies broadcast on the side of the bricks. As participants tried to avoid toppling the whole stack, an announcer happily questioned whether one specific technology could bring the whole structure down.
An apt analogy of a cybersecurity conference.
The stress reliever
Zscaler had the best booth in terms of allowing attendees to relieve a bit of aggression. Taking a very literal approach to data destruction, Zscaler supplied an arsenal of destruction tools to eviscerate hard drives. With hammer in hand, attendees hacked away, splintering dated data to smithereens.
Even those onlookers got a bit of joy out of the sheer destruction.
The commitment to scale
This really should be a group award, because the expo floor was enormous and full of marketing prowess. But some vendors showcased their commitment to scale, with fully-engineered designs and larger than life props.
Malwarebytes, however, had by far the largest robot at the expo, dwarfing attendees wandering around the booth. More than anything, it creates a mascot that the company can showoff and offers ample opportunity for larger than life pictures.