By Eileen Manning, Executive Producer, Cyber Security Summit
November 19, 2020

The 10th Annual Cyber Security Summit took place October 26-28, 2020, with over 125 speakers presenting more than 50 sessions to nearly 1,000 cyber security leaders from across the U.S. and 21 foreign countries. As has become standard during this pandemic year, the Summit moved to a virtual platform. Our goal was to avoid hosting just another 3-day webinar, and instead build a platform that would permit the high quality interaction and networking amongst attendees that has made the Cyber Security Summit such a popular event for the past ten years.

We will be the first to acknowledge, this effort was not without technical challenges and a few glitches straight out of the murphy’s law handbook. Overall, however, we are pleased with the adaptability of our speakers, our team and most importantly, our attendees. The majority of presentations are now online, so these great lectures can continue to inform and enlighten us all.

An event of this magnitude doesn’t happen by itself, and I am thrilled to take this moment to recognize many of the behind the scenes heroes who made it happen.

Leading up to the Summit, our Think Tank spent months identifying issues and experts to present their perspectives on the issues most relevant to our industry at this unique moment in time. The new IT/IOT/OT track, led by Tim Herman, evaluated security risks in the context of the growing convergence of IT, the internet of things, industrial control systems and SCADA systems. The new In-House Legal Counsel track, led by Phil Schenkenberg, was created to discuss mitigating cyber risk across an organization from the perspective of the legal team. Anne Bader and Brian Isle wrote a handbook and assembled over 25 global cyber leaders to create an observed workshop where supply chain and cyber security experts played interactive roles in identifying supply chain vulnerabilities. Simon Bracey-Lane acted as Chief Rapporteur from London and coordinated a team of writers to publish white papers post event. The Healthcare and Med Dev track, led by Ken Hoyme and Judy Hatchett, brought together healthcare providers, medical device manufacturers and security experts to advance awareness of medical device safety and security.

David LaBelle led the behind the scenes platform architecture team and worked on the DNS infrastructure without a blueprint guide. His team of volunteers proved capable of setting-up multiple servers while orchestrating configuration management to assure a consistent server baseline. 

These behind the scenes heroes, and so many more, worked evenings and weekends leading up to the Summit and some worked almost around the clock during the Summit. For instance, leading up to the Summit, Matthew Harmon and Daniel Theisen worked on vetting and troubleshooting infrastructure technologies.  During the Summit, Matthew continued modifying server configurations. The team at The Event Group, Incorporated processed over 500 last minute registrations in the week leading up to the Summit, and then validated and cleared over 900 attendees between 5 am and 10 am on the opening morning of the Summit. This was possible because volunteers like Eivind Horvik set-up server administration and then permissions to provide each attendee with a user name that matched their registration. Behind the scenes volunteers such as Alex Malm worked as the face of the trouble shooting crew to coordinate settings and help over 100 speakers trouble shoot their computer issues. When a platform pivot was made on the last day of the Summit, employees like Keely Ross at Zoom worked around the clock and also pulled in a colleague from Germany, Eleonore Giehl, to assist in the successful transition

Dedicated Speakers like Tom Patterson, Chief Trust Officer for Unisys and the White House Moonshot Executive Director, graciously reworked busy schedules to deliver on the importance of the ‘whole of nation’ effort to make our critical infrastructure safe on the internet by 2028, a high-level objective that we all play a part in.

Summit Co-chairs Tim Crothers and Catharine Trebnick acted as hosts and improv masters, working their way through pauses in scheduling, while in the background David Notch, Lee Ann Villella and others cued up speakers and kept presentations running.

When all was over, we were so appreciative of feedback from participants, such as this note from our sponsor at Crowdstrike… Hello Team Cyber Security Summit – Congratulations on the incredible line-up of speakers and content.  As I listened to Shawn’s preso, I thought of you all in that this wasn’t easy to navigate a whole new virtual platform when you’ve been doing this compelling event for 10 years!  You all persevered through it, pivoted on the fly and were all communicating non-stop.  I appreciated your efforts to make this the best it could be…

I echo those words to everyone that participated in anyway during the 2020 Summit, and especially to all my Summit Heroes. The word limit on this article won’t permit me to recognize all of you, but you each have my gratitude for exemplifying the adaptability so critical to success in this industry. Together we produced a multi-stakeholder consortium that brought together industry, government and academic interests in our decade-long effort to improve the state of cyber security. If the next ten years are anything like the first ten, then the future is looking bright for us all.

Eileen Manning is a 30-year entrepreneur specializing in strategic planning and marketing with a focus on technology events. She has worked at a top advertising agency and spent over a decade in management at a Fortune 100 financial institution … full bio