Post-RSA 2015: The Evolving Security Landscape

“Let’s do things differently; let’s think differently; let’s act differently. Because what the security industry has been doing has not worked.” – RSA President Amit Yoran

The overall consensus and call to action at this year’s conference is the security industry needs to change – as threats become increasingly more sophisticated, we’re racing to evolve faster than the hackers and we are continuing to fall behind in the arms race.

Last year saw a 25 percent increase in high-profile, over-hyped data breaches, but who’s held accountable? Conversations at RSA this year centered around the increased need for board-level discussions and how CISOs can adopt a business mindset; the scary potential of vulnerable connected devices; debates about how threat intelligence should be free; the governments increased involvement and the Department of Homeland Security setting up shop in Silicon Valley, and more.

Highwire’s Security Practice was on site this year taking it all in, supporting clients, attending sessions, networking and throwing a killer happy hour. See the team’s highlights here:

Christine McKeown Elswick, vice president
The overarching message in Amit Yoran’s keynote was a significant moment for the industry. He said,”We are losing this contest. The adversaries are out-maneuvering the industry, out-gunning the industry, and winning by every measure.” This was echoed by the New York Times, Nicole Perlroth in a private panel session on Wednesday who said that we can’t build walls high enough to keep out the hackers, and with traditional AV software not working, something must be done to close the gaps that hackers continue to exploit. It will be fascinating to watch as the arms race continues. Startups like Cylance, a next-generation AV company, are making huge strides in this race against threat actors. They recently blocked 99 percent of all threats in live demonstrations across the United States using real malware to test its new technology against old school AV software.

Bill Bode, account director
RSA is changing. For the first time I can remember, some of the most intriguing security startups in the space- Synack, Tanium, vArmour- opted not to have a booth, instead relying on throwing amazing parties, packing in customer/prospect schedules to the brim and networking events featuring prominent journalists to get the most out of their week in San Francisco. If you look at most of the keynotes from this year, you’ll see a laundry list of outdated legacy players talking about old world problems, but one talk did stand out in particular to me, from RSA President Amit Yoran (referenced above). Above all else, his call for vendor accountability is one that could turn the security world on its head. It’ll be a long road ahead to get to a point of true accountability, but it begs the question- once it’s here, will the constant noise die down? Will we get industry-wide agreement on the “best vendors” when we know which solutions just aren’t making the cut?

Mariah Robertson, account associate
RSA is such a great forum to discuss problems, showcase ideas and share solutions. My favorite part of RSA was seeing how different companies are addressing the biggest pain points in security. For example, at the Trustwave booth, security researcher Garrett Picchioni showed us the most commonly used and easily crackable passwords and demonstrated how quickly criminals could hack into a company’s system and steal passwords: it’s just a matter of seconds. We learned that longer passwords are always tougher to crack, and that “Thisismypasswordnoreallyitis” is a much better password than even a short random string of numbers or words such as “Spring2015” or even “A2qR!” Knowing that weak passwords are the leading cause of data breaches, I recommend everyone change theirs on a regular basis!

Isaac Steinmetz, account associate
This year was my third RSA, but ended up being the first time I was able to see a client present (those pesky “Explorer Expo” passes lock you out of a lot of sessions!). I got to see Veracode’s co-founder Chris Wysopal address a crowded four-sided box in the middle of the expo floor. Before he started speaking I worried that the session wouldn’t attract much attention since it was barely separated from the sea of booths in the hall, but surely enough the box was packed standing room only and Chris’ presentation moved forward with a full audience. It’s always great to see a client’s expertise and respect from his peers so clearly validated at events like this!

Alexi Foster, account associateIMG_2907
The highlight of RSA for me this year was the closing keynote, an interview with Alec Baldwin and Hugh Thompson, RSA’s program chair. They spoke about the cultural implications of a hack, mentioning the Sony hack in particular. It was interesting to hear Baldwin discuss how the Sony hack hurt the entertainment business through more than just preventing box office sales. Now, Hollywood producers might feel afraid to create controversial movies because they fear that those on the opposing side could use “evil forces” on them out of spite. And this idea stretches beyond the entertainment industry- anyone who knows how to hack has the ability to hinder another’s individual expression and creativity through a few lines of malicious code. It’s a scary thought.

Interested in learning more about Highwire PR’s security practice? Email to learn more! See you at RSA 2016.

Highwire Expands to New York

It’s an exciting time for tech in NYC.

Not only are we celebrating Etsy’s recent IPO, but there are many smaller startups doing exciting things in different areas of tech. One of my favorite areas that is thriving in NYC is fintech. For obvious reasons, NYC is well-suited to be the fintech capital of the US and there are many innovative companies here using technology to solve problems for both the institutional and retail/consumer side of the business. From recent IPOs Virtu and OnDeck to the fledgling startups coming out of the FinTech Innovation Lab, you can find fintech startups at all stages of life in NYC.

The thriving fintech scene is one of the many reasons why Highwire is proud to announce the official opening of our NYC office, located in the WeWork NoMad space, alongside many tech startups. While our office may be new, our presence in NYC is not. We have been building our East Coast client base over the last year, with leaders in fintech, enterprise security and retail technology on our client roster, and have now begun expanding our team here as well.

I am very excited to open the NYC office for Highwire, as it allows me to experience the best of both worlds. I like to say that my background makes me ½ Wall Street and ½ Silicon Valley. For the last 7 years, I worked at a corporate communications firm started by ex-Wall Street analysts, where I helped enterprise technology, financial services, and payments companies manage communications around milestone events, including many IPOs. IPOs are an amazing growth milestone and I am proud to have helped so many CEOs and CFOs successfully manage communications on this important day. Prior to my corporate communications work, I was a Vice President at a Silicon Valley PR firm, spending several years in California and NYC offices, working with early Silicon Valley enterprise technology leaders.

Similarly, Highwire NYC combines the best of NYC and Silicon Valley. While we still call some of the most innovative Valley companies our clients, we are proud to support the NYC and broader East Coast tech scene as well.

Tech in NYC is thriving and Highwire is excited to be a part of the growing scene.

RSA 2015: What’s Expected, Happy Hour with Highwire & More!

The highly anticipated RSA Conference 2015 is widely recognized as a gathering of the brightest minds in security technology, and Highwire PR’s budding security practice couldn’t be more excited about the diverse lineup of speakers slated to inform and entertain at this year’s event.

In addition to top security executives and influencers, RSA invited Alec Baldwin, who is well-known for not being shy about his admiration for tech devices, as a keynote speaker.rsa2015

But in all seriousness, besides the addition of a Blackberry-addicted pop culture icon, there are many other reasons to be excited about this year’s event.

Modestly described as an “intense week of learning and networking,” the event features over 700 speakers participating in nearly 500 presentations and discussions throughout the week.

So with so much action taking place, what are Highwire’s security-savvy team members looking forward to most?

Mariah Robertson, Account Associate, San Francisco:
Is especially excited to sit in on “Breaking the Glass Firewall: The Changing Role of Women in IT Security,” a five-woman panel determined to see the amount of women professionals in the security industry grow from its current 11 percent. As Mariah says, “It’s inspiring to see women in the security industry talk about the challenges they are facing, and how they can make strides to overcome them.”

Nicole Plati, Account Manager, Chicago:
Has her eye on the “Gumshoes Part Deux – Security Investigative Journalists Speak Out,” with Brian Krebs, Nicole Perlroth, Joe Menn and Kevin Poulsen.

Megan Grasty, Senior Account Executive, New York:
Is interested in “Wait! Wait! Don’t PWN Me!” a make-shift security-themed game show with Trusted Software Alliance, Veracode, NetSuite and Sonatype.

Christine Elswick, VP of Highwire’s Security Practice, Seattle:
Can’t wait to see “From the Battlefield: Managing Customer Perceptions in a Security Crisis” with Nicole Miller. In a world where sophisticated threats are taking down business of all sizes, having a good handle on crisis and issues management is essential.

Bill Bode, Director of Highwire’s Security Practice, San Francisco:
Is most excited for a presentation from Open Garages, in which the research group dives into the cyber safety and security behind automotive computers by controlling an open-source version of Mario Kart. (“Hopefully the N64 version,” adds Bill).

Attending the event for the first time? Check out RSA’s handy survival guide before you try to navigate the expansive expo floor. A few of influential infosec reporter Fahmida Rashid’s tips include: plan ahead, take care of yourself, be smart about the expo floor and always have a backup plan.

Highwire is also excited to be hosting our first ever RSA Happy Hour at the hip new Hawthorn Lounge on Tuesday, April 21 from 5:30-8:30pm. Join us to mix and mingle with journalists, some of the hottest security companies in the space and yours truly. Please contact to register.
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See you there!

The Top 7 Media Briefing Spots in San Francisco

Congratulations! You’ve secured some awesome in-person meetings for your client in San Francisco. But, you’re located in New York or Los Angeles or Boston and aren’t exactly sure of where to recommend that your client takes those important meetings.

If your client takes a briefing at a less than ideal location, then you could frustrate the reporter, frazzle your client and completely undo all of your hard work.

Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite spots near a sampling of the publications that you are likely pursuing for your San Francisco media tour:

1. Philz Coffee (201 Berry Street) — If your client has meeting at TechCrunch, they are in for a treat. Right around the corner from TechCrunch’s office is a Philz Coffee, one of the most beloved coffee shops in the Bay Area. The Berry Street Philz has indoor seating, which can get a little noisy, but there are outdoor seats if inside is too noisy or if your spokesperson wants to enjoy the California sunshine during the interview. We recommend ordering Philz’s medium roast.


2. Two Embarcadero (2 Embarcadero Center)– Next up is the Wall Street Journal up on California Street. Nearby are the Embarcadero Center towers. Connecting them is a raised walkway, which has some grass and benches. Upstairs from the Banana Republic on Embarcadero Two are tables and benches ideal for a discussion of the Internet of Things.

embarcadero two

3. Transamerica Redwood Park (Between Clay St. and Washington St.)– Close by, in the shadow of the TransAmerica Pyramid is the New York Times’ office. On the other side of the Pyramid is a quiet park called “Transamerica Redwood Park.” The park is a slim piece of real estate with trees, a fountain and a sculpture of children playing. Around lunchtime, the park becomes full of Financial District workers, but in off-peak hours it’s rarely crowded.

redwood park






4. Heyday (180 Spear Street) — Bloomberg’s San Francisco office is located in SOMA, a section of the city that is booming particularly due to the tech sector flourishing. Next door to the business publication’s offices is Heydey, a stylish café with an organic menu (so San Francisco). There is ample seating inside the café, but in case of crowds, there is the Spear Street Plaza outside.








5. InterContinental (888 Howard Street) — If your next stop is the San Francisco Chronicle, the InterContinental is across the street. If you and Benny Evangelista are in the need of a place to chat, try the chic lobby or bar.







6. District (216 Townsend Street) — Wired’s offices, which are new and must be kept clean, are down the street from The Chron. Coffee is great, but it can get kind of boring. If you’re in San Francisco, you should probably get some of the fine wine from the Bay Area.






7. Credo (360 Pine Street) – Near the offices that contain The Verge (and SBNation, Curbed, Eater, Racked and Vox), is a great Italian restaurant: Credo (“I believe” in Italian). The décor is very cool — on the wall are famous quotes related to beliefs” – and the food is great.








8. The Station (596 Pacific Avenue) – Here’s a bonus one – the beloved Station down the street from the Highwire offices. While you’re in the neighborhood, give us a shout!

the station





Where do you like to hold briefings in your city?


Get to the Point: Media Training Basics

When you first begin building your brand, your story is everything. It’s how you appeal to customers, build new relationships and get across your company’s key messages. But you alone can only spread the word so far, and that’s where sharing your story with the right media can be a huge help.

speech-bubbles-310399_640Media interviews span subjects from a new product to a company launch or a round of funding, and are also conducted in a variety of ways—from a telephone call to a broadcast interview. While an interview can seem intimidating, it’s important not to think of it as an inquisition, but rather a conversation. It is a bit of a shift in perception, but with some simple preparation you can be as comfortable in any interview situation as you would be catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee.

How to prepare?

It’s simple. Prepare with expected key questions and write down notes to create a “briefing page” with the core points for your interview. For example:

Ask Yourself Why. Why are you doing this interview? What is the larger goal of the interview—will it help you educate a new audience or gain customers?

Think about the Audience. Hint, it’s not the reporter.  Ask yourself who is this reporter’s key audience? Make sure your talking points address the audience at hand. If you have an enterprise startup but you’re talking to a general business publication, relate your story to overall business issues felt across the industry. It will make your story compelling to both the reporter and the publication’s readers, establishing trust and authenticity.

Know Your Story. And let’s not forget the most important question: what are the main points of the interview? Key messages are essential and contribute to the larger goal of the interview, such as new customer inquiries, buzz before a big announcement or investor interest as a result of the published article. As a reporter would look at it, they are the who, what, where, why and how of your story. You need a simple description of what your company does, how it’s different and why it matters.

Be Memorable. Remember not be boring in the process. People remember narratives and stories, make sure you use them to illustrate your points or showcase how something works. Challenge yourself to use a minimum of two “for examples” during the course of your interview.

Sound out Your Sound Bites. What are three key messages or easy-to-quote messages that describes the main idea of your content or expertise? Reporters can help you tell your story, but it’s up to you to give them that winning sound bite.

Do Your Research. Finally, don’t be afraid to cyber-stalk. Know as much as you can about the reporter. What school did they go to? Do you have mutual LinkedIn connections? What have they tweeted about recently? It helps to connect on a personal level to build your relationship, and sprinkling a personal twist could make your story interesting to them and their readers.

Now that you are prepared, nail the interview. 

Reporters are the gatekeepers to your key audiences, so get it right.

Focus First: Be comfortable. You don’t want any distractions and make sure your simple key messages are bulleted and in front of you. Read up on current news before beginning – you don’t want to be a deer in the headlights if they bring up recent news that affects your industry. And at the start of the interview, take the lead and offer to give an introduction to your background and why you are talking to them today. This isn’t just about you— show that you’re excited about their audience and hope you can be a resource for both this reporter and their readers.

Make it a Conversation: Avoid industry jargon and don’t assume the reporter knows just as much about the industry as you do—always offer to explain and ask for feedback. When closing the interview, determine what are next steps. Have you summarized the key points for the reporter? Do you need to send over additional information for their story, such as a headshot or FAQ sheet?

Go the Extra Mile: Take notes on what the reporter found interesting throughout the conversation or on details they revealed to you. These notes will be useful in any follow-up conversations.

A Word of Caution: You are always on-the-record unless otherwise indicated. Don’t mislead a reporter, ever, or offer up “between you and me” sensitive information. The point is to tell your story and get to know the media, but don’t try to build a relationship by spilling insider secrets.

Take the opportunity to get to know the reporter across the table, on the other end of the phone or through the camera, as a person. Be considerate of their time, learn what they’re passionate about and always get to the point quickly.

Originally appeared on Creator: