The ‘right’ security conference in the making

Philippe Courtot has launched the CIO/CISO Interchange, an event series aimed at cutting through the noise and getting to what security leaders should be discussing.
CIO-CISO interchange
Philippe Courtot at the inaugural CIO-CISO interchange

As conferences like RSA grow to host thousands of different vendors, it can be extremely tough for a CIO or CISO to come away with any actionable information that can support their organization.

Philippe Courtot recognizes that and wants to remedy it with an event of his own.

Courtot has launched the CIO/CISO Interchange, an event series aimed at cutting through the noise and getting to the heart of what security leaders should be discussing if they are to embrace the digital transformation happening at organizations all over the world.

Courtot, CEO of Qualys, looks at the event as something that can cut through marketing overload and bring people together to discuss cutting-edge ideas.

“These conferences have become a cacophony of vendors,” Courtot said. “It’s absolutely deafening. We can really create a different type of conference where effectively, people can come there and get real information without the cacophony of the vendors.”

The Interchange plans to host small events in various U.S. cities, looking at no more than a few hundred attendees at each event.

“We’re going to be small,” he said. “Fifty people, 200 people. We learned that if you go beyond that, it’s very difficult. So we’re starting small, but then the idea — and we will see how successful it could be — is that we could really create a different type of experience.”

In order to keep the Interchange vendor neutral, Courtot has partnered with the Cloud Security Alliance. The partnership will allow the Interchange to tap into a community of cloud and security executives that are at the forefront of securing the digital transformation.

Courtot sees the conversation around security mirroring the conversation around cloud adoption, so he feels the CSA is a perfect partner for what he is trying to achieve.

“When the cloud was emerging, there was a lot of resistance to the cloud,” Courtot said. “The establishment — the IT vendors and the security vendors — was trying to scare people away from the cloud because they didn’t have any good solutions. We need to really create a movement to try to educate and make people understand. The conference is about making sure that we are essentially securing the cloud, and that is a mission of the Cloud Security Alliance.”

Beyond the cloud, Courtot hopes the Interchange focuses on the connected world we are living in, where everything from cars to appliances to thermostats are hooked up to the internet. He believes that if the tech world is to weave security into the fabric of digital transformation, the industry will need to focus on five tenets: visibility, accuracy, scalability, immediacy, and transparent orchestration.

By discussing those tenets, Courtot hopes Interchange attendees figure out ways to break through the noise at conferences and push vendor to deliver better products.

“[The Interchange] is also to put pressure to the vendors, so CISOs can say ‘Guys, you know, I cannot continue to have these kind of applications that don’t talk with each other, or I won’t continue buying from you,’” he said. “We’ve been focusing on the problems. What’s the solution? I want to figure out a solution, because if we put our minds and hearts to it, we will find the solution.”

For more on the Interchange, visit the event’s website.

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