With in-person events now impossible due to Covid-19, many orgs are taking their security conferences online

Virtual security conferences... an expanding list

The first coronavirus-related tremor in the technology conference space was felt when Mobile World Conference (MWC), a keystone in the calendar that draws tens of thousands of tech enthusiasts to Barcelona every year, was canceled in February.

As major exhibitors withdrew from MWC on health grounds, it was not long before other conference organizers followed suit.

Within weeks, conferences were postponed or canceled outright: BSides in Vancouver, Kaspersky’s Security Analyst Summit in Barcelona, Black Hat Asia, DEF CON China, and Mediterranehack, to name only a few.

The upheaval has the potential to change the technology conference landscape permanently – if the virtual stand-ins prove successful.

Learning curve

As Covid-19 continues to spread worldwide, grounding flights and forcing us to practise social distancing, a number of event organizers have been exploring how to take their events virtual.

How to do so and quickly, however, has been a hard-and-fast learning curve.

“There’s a lot of overlap when planning an in-person event versus a virtual one, which makes it easy to transition as an organizer,” Corie Leaman, ConnectWise director of IT nation events told The Daily Swig.

“We still have to think about the narrative and figure out the amount of time each session should be because people are still going to need to take breaks. Virtualization also means we have to consider they’ll be watching from different time zones and on their own schedule.”

Derek Weeks, vice president of Sonatype and founder of All Day DevOps – an organization well-versed in setting up virtual conferences – also shared some tips with us for companies making the transition.

The first step, Weeks says, is having the right team around you.

“Many companies are racing to transform their physical events into virtual events,” the executive explains. “Hint: your physical event teams can’t easily transform to be the lead for a virtual event.”

Speakers, too, have to be kept in mind. Presenting a keynote at a live address is not the same as an online session, and so Weeks suggests that live audience opportunities could sweeten the pot. All Day DevOps, for example, offers local, satellite-viewing parties with small audiences to speakers.

Finally, Weeks says that live presentations should be considered a top priority, but sessions should also be recorded so those who cannot attend can still enjoy the event.

Online security conferences: 2020 schedule

Here’s a rundown of the upcoming cybersecurity conferences that are now going remote, which we will update as more dates are released:

Black Hat USA | August 1-6

One of the biggest events in the infosec calendar takes its briefings, trainings and business hall virtual for its 23rd edition.

Visit the Black Hat website for full details.

DEF CON 28 | August 6-9

The hacker conference will be free to attend in its first virtual incarnation, and founder Jeff Moss has floated some intriguing new features.

Visit the DEF CON website for full details.

2020 Billington CyberSecurity Summit | September 8-9

The event’s 11th edition will feature three senior defense/security professionals at the US Department of Defense: Nancy Norton, Dana Deasy, and Katie Arrington.

Visit the Billington CyberSecurity Summit website for full details.

AusCERT2020 | September 15-18

Australia’s Cyber Emergency Response Team will live-stream tutorials, hold pre-recorded and live conference sessions, and virtualize its industry awards and speed debate sessions.

Visit the AusCERT website for full details.

CISA Annual National Cybersecurity Summit | September 16, 23, 30, and October 7

Organized by the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the conference's four days (across four weeks) are themed: key cyber insights, digital transformation, diversity in cybersecurity, and defending democracy.

Visit the CISA website for full details.

Black Hat Asia | September 29-October 2

Initially scheduled in April as a live event, Black Hat Asia will include 15 trainings, nearly 40 briefings and presentations, a virtual business hall, arsenal program, CISO Summit, and networking opportunities.

Visit the Black Hat website for full details.

VB2020 | September 30-October 2

Part of the schedule has now been confirmed for the annual conference from Virus Bulletin, the infosec research, testing, and certification body.

Visit the Virus Bulletin website for full details.

Global AppSec 2020 | October 19-23

Registration opens on August 1, with on-demand content available from October 1, for the OWASP Foundation event, which includes three days of trainings and a two-day conference.

Visit the Global AppSec 2020 website for full details.

(ISC)² Security Congress 2020 | November 16-18

More than 40 sessions around professional development, with topics including cloud security; DevSecOps; governance, risk and compliance (GRC); and career development.

Visit the (ISC)² website for full details.

Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit (SAS) | November 18-21

Kaspersky has announced a new date for SAS on November 18. However, the company has promised an online version of SAS before this date.

Visit the SAS website for full details.

PasswordsCon 2020 | November 23-24

Now part of Sweden’s Internetdagarna, PasswordsCon 2020 will feature presentations from security researchers and password crackers on the security issues around passwords and digital authentication.

Visit the PasswordsCon website for full details.

Additional reporting by Adam Bannister.

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