9 Takeaways from the 2024 RSA Conference 

By NightDragon 

The RSA Conference is the largest cybersecurity conference of the year, with an estimated 45,000 industry leaders and government officials in attendance. NightDragon had a strong presence at the event, including hosting our annual NightDragon Innovation Summit and meetings with 150+ innovative companies, CISOs, portfolio companies and more.  

Each of these meetings and connections shared one thing in common: an opportunity to gather insights into what was happening in the market and what new cutting-edge technologies are gaining traction. What did we learn? For those with the technology and services to solve today’s biggest risk challenge, the opportunity around cybersecurity is greater than ever before.

Here’s some of takeaways and trends our team heard throughout the week:  

  • Generative AI Clear Buzz Word Winner – This year’s buzzwords emerged as “data security” and “AI-based.” In fact, RSA hosted 89 sessions with AI in the title. It’s no wonder, as $25.87 billion dollars globally has poured into AI companies (in Q1 alone) and companies everywhere are moving to see how AI can support their products and deliver strong cybersecurity outcomes. Using AI to enhance security technologies such as detection was on full display across the expo. However, AI security (or securing the AI ecosystem) was still low-key this year, though we believe it will be much more prominent at the next RSA. On the flip side, we also heard many discussions around AI Powered cyberthreats, and the risks posed by this new vector of enhanced attack. It is too early to tell which side will ultimately win out but our money is on the defense as we believe AI innovation can fight AI-powered damage. 
  • Cyber Fusion on the Rise – While cybersecurity used to be an industry all to its own, it is no longer. We are seeing an increase in overlap with ancillary domains, such as industrial, physical, misinformation and disinformation, and electronic warfare. This shift greatly increases the total addressable market for cybersecurity as it subsumes both these other domains, as well increases the surface of the threat landscape. As a result, cybersecurity leaders not only have greater opportunity, but also greater risk and responsibility.  
  • Watermarking will be Key to Counteract Deep Fakes and Misinformation – According to an MIT study, disinformation and misinformation is at an all-time high, with false information 70% more likely to be reshared than that which is true. With the stakes higher than ever as 64 countries around the world holding national elections in 2024, the discussion on how to mitigate this rising risk was a key topic at RSA. One solution of discussion at RSA is the concept of watermarking. AI watermarking helps distinguish information that has been verified versus that which is false with a digital marker. Type of watermarking could include visible watermarks on images, videos or other forms of content, or invisible watermarks that could be detected by algorithm or another form of technology. However, there are some arguments against it that AI watermarking could be exploited by bad actors and its full potential has yet to be determined.  
  • Platformization of Large Cybersecurity Vendors – Every few years, the cyber industry swings between “best of breed” and “best of suite” solutions, with CISOs making different buying decisions based on preferential budgets, current threats, team capabilities and more. 2024 is no different. While at the NightDragon Innovation Summit last week, we heard from several top CEOs that the increase in platformization of cyber is real, and that a shift towards those vendors who can provide a full platform of solutions to CISOs. Unlike the past, however, CISOs are demanding a “best of both worlds” approach, where platform vendors must also be innovators, and everyone must offer best of breed solutions inside their best of suite platform offering.   
  • The Need for Strong and Diverse Cyber Talent is Still Relevant – The cyber talent gap is not new news, but the advancements evident at the RSA Conference were. According to the latest Cybersecurity Workforce Study from ISC2, 92% of cyber organizations report a talent shortage, resulting in a total workforce gap of around 4 million positions. It was encouraging to see the broader industry continue to recognize and bring awareness to this ongoing struggle throughout the week. NightDragon proudly demonstrated our commitment to the cause at our annual NightDragon Innovation Summit, announcing a collaboration with NPower and partnering with WWT and Cisco to create a coalition to increase diversity and empower individuals from all backgrounds to pursue careers in cybersecurity. We invite the broader industry to join us in creating opportunities to advance the cyber workforce. To learn more about the coalition, or how to engage, visit this site.  
  • Autonomous Penetration Testing New Market Trend – One technology trend we heard at the RSA Conference was the rise of autonomous penetration testing. By leveraging AI to enhance our penetration testing capabilities and frequency, we see potential in enhanced security operations and automating work traditionally done entirely by humans. We won’t be surprised if technology continues to evolve in this market.  
  • Identity Rising Importance in Cyber Stack – Identity isn’t a new category, but we are seeing a rapid increase in its usage and importance within the cybersecurity stack. In particular, we heard talk of using AI/ML risk intelligence to defend against identity threats and risk-based identity governance to ensure compliance. As AI continues to trend upward, so will efforts to separate humans from the bots. 
  • Cybersecurity for SMBs More Essential Than Ever – While an estimated 60% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) have experienced a cyberattack, the category has historically represented a smaller market due to limited SMB budgets for SMB solutions. However, at the RSA Conference this year, we did hear increased traction around this market, signaling that it could be a bigger level of growth going forward in the overall market for the right solutions.  
  • Public-Private Partnership a Top Priority – While government and the cybersecurity industry have a history of intersecting, the collaboration between public and private continues to rise, with government partners sitting side by side with private organizations to have vital conversations about how we can increase our national security and cyber resilience. Our nation’s biggest cyber and technology government leaders were on the ground in San Francisco to work alongside the private sector. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sen. Mark Warner, NSA Cyber Director David Luber, CISA Director Jen Easterly, National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Sen. Jim Langevin, UU.S. Cyber Ambassador Nathaniel Fick, former NSA Cyber Director Rob Joyce, and more all spoke to how we can work better together in public-private partnership throughout the week. It takes a village to increase cybersecurity – and it is clearer than ever we have one willing to work together and secure our world for tomorrow. 

NightDragon remains committed to mitigating this risk and securing our world for tomorrow across cybersecurity, safety, security and privacy categories. We are encouraged to see the rapid growth in this sector and will continue to track trends and innovative technologies closely.  

It was a meaningful and productive RSA Conference, reminding us of both the risk and opportunity ahead. We can’t wait to do it again next year!