Learn About Cybersecurity From Its Rock Stars

Speakers at this IEEE conference are the who’s who in the field

7 July 2014

The recent news of massive data breaches, government spying, and industrial espionage has made cybersecurity every organization’s concern. With cyberattacks on the rise, it is now more important than ever to learn how to identify vulnerabilities in computer systems and protect against incursions.

“All levels of computing professionals have cybersecurity at the top of their worry lists,” says Chris Jensen, director of marketing and sales for the IEEE Computer Society, in Los Alamitos, Calif.

No wonder then that in a world of cyberthreats that demand constant vigilance and fast response, these executives would rather not spend several days out of the office at a conference. That’s why the IEEE Computer Society is sponsoring a one-day conference on 24 September, in Austin, Texas, called the Rock Stars of Cybersecurity.

Unlike the research-paper-oriented academic conferences that the society typically sponsors, this and the society’s other “rock stars” events emphasize the practical. They’re packed with case studies, actionable advice, best practices, future trends, person-to-person networking opportunities, and more.


Cybersecurity authorities from several leading companies and the U.S Department of Homeland Security will talk about how their organizations deal with security threats. And they will offer advice and information that participants can immediately put to use. Subjects to be covered will include effective strategies for securing business operations, new and innovative responses to today’s security threats, how government agencies are balancing cybersecurity threats and privacy, how to implement secure enterprise architectures, and big data’s implications for security analytics.

Peter Allor, IBM’s cybersecurity strategist–federal, will cover security frameworks, strategies, and mitigation efforts and their effects on risk. He will also discuss a more focused and adaptable response to attacks than traditional compliance checklists offer.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s chief technology officer, Peter Fonash, will discuss strengthening the security ecosystem by making cybersecurity defenses less reactive and more automated and distributed—and better informed.

Sarath Geethakumar, senior director of global information security for the credit card company Visa, will talk about today’s rapidly evolving, ever-more interconnected payment systems. He will also explain how to build security into development methodologies rather than making it an afterthought.

Peder Jungck, the vice president and chief technology officer of the defense, security, and aerospace systems company BAE System, will talk about what he calls the seven sins of cybersecurity. Jungck will also cover how to deal with the poor assumptions many people have about security and, in the process, alter their opinion about its importance.

And Cigital’s chief technology officer, Gary McGraw, will present lessons learned from the roughly 70 firms around the world involved with the Building Security in Maturity Model, a measurement framework for software security maturity. It helps organizations assess where they are today and understand how to ensure their programs will be effective for years to come.


This conference will be the third in a series of one-day rock star events from the society. Each event is geared to a hot technical topic.

The first event, Rock Stars of Big Data, drew more than 325 attendees to Mountain View, Calif., last October. “We had to close registration to keep from overfilling the room,” says Jensen. “Our audience gave the speakers high marks and wanted to hear more.”

Rock Stars of Mobile Cloud was held on 6 May in Boston.

“Although the IEEE Computer Society includes a sizable number of nonacademic technology professionals among its members, its 200 or so conferences per year have been largely geared to the academic community,” she says. “Until the first Rock Stars event, the society did not provide many forums where people working in the private sector could learn how to leverage the latest technologies in their jobs. The success of these events shows that there is a definite demand for industry events that combine high-level technical information with solid, actionable business advice.”

Upcoming events include Rock Stars of Big Data Analytics to be held on 21 October and Rock Stars of 3D Printing on 2 December. Registration for the Big Data Analytics event is now open, and registration for Rock Stars of 3D Printing will be open soon.

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