15 Can’t-Miss Cybersecurity Conferences in 2020: Physical and Virtual Industry Events

December 16, 2019
| |
6 min read

As we look toward a new decade of cyberthreats, it’s clear that ongoing education isn’t optional for security professionals — it’s mandatory. In a recent Fortinet survey, chief information security officers (CISOs) cited a need for learning and development among security teams, including greater awareness of threats and tactics to respond to the latest risks.

The top cybersecurity conferences in 2020 include a blend of traditional physical conferences, virtual events and hybrids, reflecting the current reality facing many organizations. All of these are unique opportunities for security professionals to learn directly from industry experts, researchers and their peers. Some of the best events in the coming year will offer success stories, hands-on workshops, networking, certification and countless other opportunities, including options for fully remote attendance.

While it’s nearly impossible to highlight all of the security conferences happening in 2020, the following list focuses on top cybersecurity events in the U.S., organized by date and updated to reflect the latest public details. Take note of the latest updates, which reflect several postponed or cancelled conferences. Other events have announced plans to go fully digital to improve global conference accessibility.

Top 15 Cybersecurity Conferences in 2020

1. The Human Hacking Conference

February 20–22 | Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Human Hacking is one of the few cybersecurity conferences in 2020 focused on social engineering. It’s a place for individuals from the industry and the government to learn from leading experts in human behavior, physiology, social hacking and psychology. This year’s speaker-trainers include body language expert and former “spy catcher” Joe Navarro and elite con artist R. Paul Wilson. Attendees can expect in-depth social engineering education, including multi-hour training sessions.

2. RSA Conference

February 24–28 | San Francisco, California

The RSA Conference, or RSAC, is likely the largest annual conference dedicated exclusively to cybersecurity and cryptography — RSAC 2019 hosted over 42,000 attendees. Attending RSAC is an experience unlike any other. There’s an overwhelming number of sessions, keynotes, workshops, vendors, training courses and events, meaning the only way to survive RSAC is to plan your time carefully, download the app and wear comfortable shoes.

This year’s RSA Conference offers 20 unique topical tracks, including content focused on the C-suite, law, identity, machine learning and much more. RSAC 2020 keynote speakers include IBM Security General Manager Mary O’Brien and General Motors CEO Mary T. Barra.

3. SANS Cyber Threat Intelligence Summit

March 2–3 | Orlando, Florida

The two-day SANS Summit has a unique focus on threat intelligence. The summit will include insights from experts, success stories, research presentations and SANS courses. The keynote speakers include Netflix Threat Intelligence Lead Chris Cochrane and Dragos Principal Adversary Hunter Joe Slowik.

4. Women in Cybersecurity

cancelled

Due to health concerns, unfortunately the Women in Cybersecurity conference will not be held in 2020, but it’s worth highlighting this great event for years to come. Commonly abbreviated as WiCyS, this annual conference fosters a “community of engagement, encouragement, and support” for women technologists in academia, research and industry. Notably, the conference offers low-cost tickets and even further discounted student rates. WiCyS is small and focused on education — last year, over 500 of the 1,000 attendees were students. Attendees can expect a mixture of presentations, keynotes and hands-on workshops, with plenty of time dedicated to mentor matching and networking socials.

5. THINK 2020

May 5–7 | Digital event

Last year, THINK 2019 drew over 30,000 attendees to San Francisco’s newly renovated Moscone Center. This year, THINK 2020 is being re-imagined as a digital experience. The conference is best described as the “quintessential IBM experience” for individuals who create and use the world’s leading technologies.

The Think Digital Event Experience brings you sessions wherever you are. The event offers 13 curriculum areas ranging from blockchain to mobile, including a dedicated track for security practitioners. Attendees can expect content only available during the live event as well as opportunities to build skills with access to interactive sessions, labs and certs. While the THINK 2020 agenda is still in the works, this year’s keynote speakers include Amal Clooney.

6. The IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

May 18–20 | San Francisco, California

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Symposium for Security and Privacy is among the leading conferences each year for hard-hitting cybersecurity research. A rolling call for papers brings together teams of experts from academia and industry. The 2020 conference agenda hasn’t yet been announced, but it’s guaranteed to offer presentations on a broad mix of security topics related to the theory, design and verification of secure systems. IEEE annually sponsors over 1,800 conferences worldwide.

7. Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit

June 1–4 | National Harbor, Maryland

Gartner Summits on security and risk are tailored to the CxO, including CISOs, chief risk officers (CROs) and compliance leadership. The 2020 Summit is focused on helping enterprises create an elevated security strategy via best practices for the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), blockchain and DevSecOps. While this year’s keynotes are still to be announced, attendees can count on cutting-edge research from Gartner leadership.

8. National Cyber Summit

June 2–4 | Huntsville, Alabama

Described as the “nation’s most innovative cyber security-technology event,” this small conference is uniquely focused on defense and intelligence topics for civilians, contractors and government employees. Accordingly, The National Cyber Summit is hosted in Huntsville, which is a key hub for the agencies and contractors who support the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Last year’s keynote speakers included top cyber leaders from the U.S. Army, FBI and DOD. As of March 2020, no plans had been made to reschedule the National Cyber Summit.

9. InfoSec World

June 22–24 | Lake Buena Vista, Florida

The longest-running information security conference is focused on the “business of cybersecurity,” or providing actionable insights on aligning risk and business strategy. Conference organizers recently announced a decision to postpone the show until late June from the original dates in March.

InfoSec World offers professionals the opportunity to earn up to 45 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits and participate in a high-energy capture the flag (CTF) challenge that partners students with experienced mentors. Keynote speakers include Equifax CISO Jamil Farschchi and Netflix Information Security Head Jimmy Sanders.

10. Black Hat

August 1–6 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Now in its 23rd year, Black Hat USA (BHUSA) is among the largest dedicated cybersecurity events worldwide. BHUSA 2019 drew 17,000 attendees for a jam-packed schedule that included presentations, keynotes, workshops, vendor booths and after-hours parties. Black Hat has a broad focus on security topics and offers multiple tracks for everything from technical content to strategic leadership approaches. Consider extending your stay to attend other Vegas Security Week events, including BSides Vegas and DEF CON.

11. BSides Las Vegas

August 4–5 | Las Vegas, Nevada

BSides Vegas has a reputation of being a genuinely hands-on experience for industry insiders who attend Vegas Security Week. It’s actually impossible to purchase a pass for this free, nonprofit event. Instead, you’re expected to secure your spot by booking a room at the host venue, donating a minimum of $50, sponsoring, speaking or volunteering. BSides events are focused on collaborative exploration, and last year’s conference included a lock-picking competition, hands-on workshops on malware and hardware, and remarkable research. Conference organizers have announced they will make a decision about potentially postponing BSides LV by June 5, 2020.

12. THOTCON

September 11–12 | Chicago, Illinois

Known as “Chicago’s Hacking Conference,” THOTCON has a national reputation for offering a unique conference experience. Each year, the location of the event is disclosed to speakers and attendees just days before the conference. The 2020 location is anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely going to be held in Chicago in September. At the time of writing, THOTCON was actively seeking submissions from prospective speakers, sponsors and keynotes. Buy your tickets early if you’re interested in attending — this show sells out months in advance.

13. Suits and Spooks

September 16–17 | Washington, D.C.

This unique, limited-attendance cybersecurity event focuses on international security issues for attendees from government, finance, aerospace and energy fields. The Suits and Spooks “collision” is slated for September at the Dukes London hotel. The keynote speakers include former EUROPOL Director Sir Robert Mark Wainwright KCMG, former British Special Forces Director James R. Chiswell CBE MC, as well as numerous other experts from intelligence, law enforcement, private sector leadership and the public sector.

14. GrrCON

October 22–23 | Grand Rapids, Michigan

Midwestern-based GrrCON offers a limited number of tickets that go on sale in late spring and sell out quickly — last year’s attendance was capped at 1,700. The event focuses on creating an inclusive environment for all members of the security community, including CISOs, security professionals, researchers and hackers.

The GrrCON 2020 dates were recently announced, along with the event venue of DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Last year’s keynote speakers included Amanda “Infosystir” Berlin, an expert on mental health and workplace stress around security.

15. The FutureCon Series

Multiple locations and dates

The FutureCon Series includes 27 annual events held in cities across the U.S. year-round. This cutting-edge cybersecurity series provides a platform for CISOs and senior leadership who have successfully mitigated security incidents. Attendees of these small conferences can expect presentations, workshops, panels and conversations. FutureCon offers unique pricing for startups with five or fewer years in business, including heavily discounted sponsor opportunities.

The 2020 Raleigh, North Carolina, FutureCon will be rescheduled, however, events scheduled for April 15, 2020 or later are currently still in production.

Commit to Continuing Security Education

Today’s CISOs know 2020 is certain to bring new risks and security events, but they’re uncertain about whether their security stance is strong enough. According to FireEye, more than half of CISOs don’t believe their organization could withstand a cyberattack. The value of education and knowledge is far more certain, however, even though this year’s planned events have been postponed, rescheduled or switched to digital conferences.

Knowledge is one tool that can empower security leaders and employees to address risks proactively and respond wisely if the worst-case scenario ever comes true. Registering for some of the best cybersecurity conferences in 2020 can expose enterprise security teams to emerging best practices, technologies and research on cyber risks. Start making your case for attending a physical or digital cybersecurity conference today!

Jasmine Henry

Jasmine Henry (formerly Jasmine W. Gordon) is a Seattle-based emerging commentator and freelance journalist specializing in analytics, information security, ...
read more