Highlights from the 2018 Security Professionals Conference

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2018 Security Professionals Conference Program Chair Brian Kelly and Vice Chair Jacqueline Pitter reflect on memorable moments of this popular higher education infosec community event, held April 10–12 in Baltimore.

Highlights from the 2018 Security Professionals Conference

The 16th annual Security Professionals Conference (April 10–12, 2018 in Baltimore, MD) just wrapped up, and we're excited to share our thoughts on this event. Attendance grew considerably for the fifth year in a row, and more peer-developed content was offered for novice and seasoned information security professionals alike, given that the event was extended to three full days. Most important, however, participants had the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet new community members, and find inspiration from peers as they tackle the latest challenges faced by the higher education infosec community.

Memorable Moments

Here are just a few highlights from the 2018 conference in Baltimore.

  • More than 800 attendees from over 325 institutions
  • Twelve preconference workshops and 54 track sessions focusing on budget-conscious security, cyber threat intelligence, GRC and privacy, research and collaborations, security architecture and design, security awareness and communications, security operations, and strategic leadership and professional development
  • An opening keynote address by Jessica Barker, a well-respected cybersecurity awareness expert, who encouraged our community to promote good information security behavior through positive messaging (Hint: Don't fall into the trap of thinking that "humans are the weakest link")
  • A closing keynote talk by Tony Sager, a practitioner, observer, and shaper of the world we now call cybersecurity, who shared vignettes from his career at the National Security Agency and the Center for Internet Security

Community Building

  • Formal and informal gatherings, including a lively first-time attendee session, evening birds-of-a-feather sessions, the annual PGP key-signing activity, and the always popular "hallway track" for catching up in between conference presentations
  • Social events, including an early-morning fun run and photo walk; game night with fun new additions like ping pong, giant Jenga, and cornhole; as well as the third annual Security Professionals Conference Trivia Championship (and yes, there is a trophy for the winning team)
  • A successful service project that collected book (and financial) donations for the Maryland Book Bank
  • A screening of the documentary film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, followed by a facilitated conversation about the challenges our institutions face today with diversity, equity, and inclusion and how we might solve them
  • The ongoing opportunity to rekindle professional contacts and develop new ones

All Hands on Deck!

At the end of our nautical-themed 2018 inner-harbor conference, we saw many people "disembarking" from the closing keynote invigorated and inspired by the useful content and the new connections they made over our three-day voyage. This wouldn't have been possible without our program committee members, speakers, corporate participants, and attendees. We offer a big thank you to everyone who joined us in Baltimore, answering the "All Hands on Deck!" call and helping us make this year's event so successful.

The 2019 conference program committee is about to start working on next year's program so we can make it the best conference possible. Using feedback from the 2018 attendee evaluations, we will begin to shape next year's event while ensuring that the conference is a valuable experience for all of our higher ed privacy and security peers around the globe. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have feedback about this year's conference or ideas for next year's program. Also, don't forget, there will be plenty of speaking opportunities in 2019. If you have a subject you'd like to present, don't be shy, we'd love to see new faces lead our discussions.

Until we meet again, stay vigilant and spry, friends!

The 2019 EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference will be held May 13–15, in Chicago. The call for proposals for the 2019 conference will be released this fall. Please check our Cybersecurity Program Events page for the CFP announcement.

Brian Kelly is Chief Information Security Officer at Quinnipiac University.

Jacqueline Pitter is Chief Information Security Officer and Senior Network Administrator at Reed College.

© 2018 Brian Kelly and Jacqueline Pitter. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 International License.