I always get excited when I get to travel to new places and meet interesting people as part of my job.
To say I was extremely excited and humbled to have been invited to attend Tactical Edge in Bogota, Colombia would be an understatement.
However, as the days drew closer, I found that fewer of my friends and family shared my enthusiasm. The constant asking of “have you got kidnapping and ransom insurance” had given me second thoughts. Not the kind that would make me cancel the trip. But the kind that you get when you get on a roller coaster after a long wait and get the butterfly’s in your stomach that question whether it was such a great idea.
Edgar Rojas was putting on the conference and couldn’t have been a better host. He sent us all relevant information up front, a detailed itinerary of events and generally had everything under control. Upon arriving in Bogota, I found whatever concerns I had disappeared almost instantaneously. Not only had Ed arranged a pickup from the airport and our rooms, but had included site-seeing tours of the city as well as dinners in some of the best restaurants. It turned a work trip into a more enjoyable experience than some holidays I’ve been on!
When it comes to conferences though, having an exotic location, good food, and a few shenanigans are all fine. But ultimately, a lot of it boils down to the actual content and knowledge-sharing that takes place – and the event didn’t disappoint.
There were many foreign speakers that flew in for the conference, including Wendy, Dave, Paul, Jayson, Paul, David, Greg, Erin, Zack, Valerie, Wolf, Andrew, Frank, and Tracy amongst others (apologies in advance I’ve definitely forgotten some people)
But perhaps more interesting was interacting with some of the local security professionals. Communication was somewhat challenging as I don’t know any Spanish beyond what I’ve picked up from watching Dora the Explorer and Handy Manny. But it was good to hear and understand the security challenges faced by security peers based in Colombia, and indeed the wider South America. The economy is surprisingly strong and big businesses are expanding rapidly. So many of the challenges are similar to the ones we see in elsewhere. However, there are some cultural and technology maturity differences which means there are variations in how security is sold and implemented.
A few of the attendees I spoke to were interested in three broad areas:
- The first was to understand models by which security can be best implemented and measured within enterprises.
- The second was around how to sell security to the executives by way of media real-life examples. This seemed to be a common thought, as several of the local speakers spoke at length about breaches, their impact, how their occurred, and what companies could do to protect themselves.
- The final area which I had some interesting discussions around was around security technologies. Like most other places, compliance drives some purchases. But many were interested in open source tools and looking for alternatives to the vendors they saw in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. One person stated that they felt the Magic Quadrant was a limited list and wanted an easy way to understand the variety of providers out there, but didn’t have anyone locally that could offer that expertise.
Overall, it was a real eye-opener. An educational and highly enjoyable event. In between the conference, the site-seeing, and the networking, I think tactical edge set the bar for security conferences.