FutureCon Cybersecurity Conferences. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine

FutureCon’s Cybersecurity Conference Basks In The Sunshine State

Attendees were the real attraction at this event

Scott Schober

Metuchen, N.J. – Nov. 26, 2019

Of all the FutureCon events from this past year (over 20 events spread across the U.S.), I was most excited about this particular one taking place in Fort Lauderdale. My excitement might have been influenced by the notion of leaving bleak, cold New Jersey for sunny Florida, but FutureCon has always delivered and this event was no exception.

FutureCon attendees are the real attraction at this event. They bring an enthusiasm I haven’t encountered in most other cybersecurity events. Even before my keynote, I was barraged with many questions about ransomware and social engineering by excited attendees. I happily answered as many as I could, but I also wanted to sit in on a few of the other presentations too.

Bigger is not Always Better

FutureCon events are currently positioned right in the sweet spot. Every event I’ve attended so far stood out as being the perfect size. We’ve all seen how conferences grow over the years. They start out too small and don’t feel worth it but eventually graduate to a decent size and attract the best speakers and sponsors. Unfortunately, most continue on from there to grow too large and unwieldy. It gets harder and harder to find that great connection when there are thousands of people running around trying to see every booth and presentation before they have to run to catch flights. FutureCon has not fallen victim to this trend and I hope they never do.

The presentations began with a detailed ‘Anatomy of a Hack’ presented by Torsten George of Centrify, moved into reasons to avoid antivirus software (presented by ThreatLocker’s Sean Kettner), and we finished up the morning with an exciting but ominous presentation on 5G, IoT and future cyberwars by Eddie Doyle from Check Point Software Technologies. There was just one more vendor and peer networking session before my lunch keynote, which is perfect. I like to work from a loose outline for my presentations, so a little pre-keynote socializing with attendees goes a long way. During the networking session, I was mostly hit with questions about credit card skimmers and the dark web, which is not unique. I’ve been seeing a trend including concerned consumers as well as small business owners worried about the latest in hacking scams. The attendee interest in these topics helped me shape my presentation to include extra details on skimming technology and solutions my own company has developed to help law enforcement.

Hungry for Keynotes

Just before noon, I popped into the vendor area. It’s always great to see a sold-out vending area. It indicates a healthy turnout not just for technology solutions providers but for FutureCon’s coffers too. Even the best of events can go broke if they are not managed properly, which is why I am happy to report that FutureCon appears to have a promising future. Booth traffic was brisk with a minimum of giveaways and no unnecessary loud gimmicks to attract booth visitors. You know that you’re in a properly sized show when you can simply walk up and talk to someone without having to wait in a line.

Every speaker enjoys a captive audience and there is no better way to achieve this than to serve lunch during the keynote. I spoke for an hour about how Cybersecurity is Everybody’s Business, which is uncoincidentally the title of my new book. The delicious lunch boosted the room’s energy level just enough to ensure a lively discussion on why cybersecurity protocols do not fall solely upon the IT staff or the CISO. Employers and their employees are finally starting to wake up to the fact that cybersecurity is more like a civic duty than something to be bought, sold or traded. Education is still the key but without appropriate forecasting, execution and responsibility, the lessons of cybersecurity will never truly take.

I sometimes leaned heavily on my colleagues and their respective expertise to make my point. Cybersecurity Ventures’ estimated $6 trillion in cybercrime damages by 2021 tends to prick up the ears of the budget-conscious in the audience. From there, I like to delve into some of my own cybersecurity oversights courtesy of Cyberlitica and their dark web audits and services including an all-new Cyber Survival Kit. This naturally brought me to discuss some darker details covered in my first book, Hacked Again, where I discussed my own hacking at length.

Beyond the Keynote

Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the best indicator of how well the material is sinking in is to just consider the questions that follow from the students. All of my presentations end with Q&As from the audience. Sometimes it’s just to clean up a few loose ends and sometimes it leads to discussions that weren’t even touched on in the presentation. This time around, the audience couldn’t seem to get enough information about card skimmers hidden in fuel pumps. After all, many attendees drove themselves and have these topics on their mind, but as my presentation finally came to an end, I made mental bookmarks and simply continued the relevant conversations in the panel discussion I participated in with Torsten, Eddie and Grant later that afternoon.

I left the conference feeling honored to have participated both with experts and those concerned by cybersecurity issues of the day. It is truly refreshing to participate in conferences so expertly run not just because I always learn something but also because it also vindicates my philosophy that cybersecurity is everybody’s business. My only regret is that I did not get a chance to kick back with a drink on the beach. Maybe next time.

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Scott Schober is the CEO of BVS, Inc. He is an author, speaker, and cyber security & wireless expert at Scott Schober LLC.

Scott has presented extensively on cybersecurity and corporate espionage at conferences around the globe. He has recently overseen the development of several cell phone detection tools used to enforce a “no cell phone policy” in correctional, law enforcement, and secured government facilities. He is regularly interviewed for leading national publications and major network television stations including Fox, Bloomberg, Good Morning America, CNN, CGTN, CNBC, MSNBC and many more. He is the author of ‘Hacked Again’, his latest book as well as a contributor for Huffington Post and guest blogs regularly for Tripwire’s State of Security series. Scott also writes for Business Value Exchange, Fortune Magazine and IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub.