Game On: Highlights from Tech Days 2023

Tech Days 2023 was one for the books! This year’s conference brought together experienced industry leaders to focus on the emergence of post-quantum cryptography, new PKI and IoT use cases, and the rapid growth of machine identities.

From February 13-15, IT, cybersecurity, and DevOps leaders convened at the W Barcelona for three days of practitioner-led sessions and workshops, inspiring keynote speakers, engaging panel discussions, opportunities to exchange ideas with the brightest minds in the industry, and of course, plenty of delicious meals.

Let’s take a look back on some highlights from an unforgettable week.

Day 1: Welcome to Barcelona!

On Monday, February 13, Tech Days attendees from around the world arrived at the W Barcelona to spend three days learning about the constantly evolving cryptography landscape and meet with other industry leaders face-to-face to share challenges and best practices.

After stopping by the registration desk to pick up their conference badge and #GameOn swag bag, conference goers had ample time to connect and catch up or plan which sessions they wanted to attend in the coming days using the Tech Days mobile app.

Tech Days officially kicked off that evening with a reception at Pez Vela, where everyone enjoyed tapas and stunning shoreline views from the outdoor terrace. It was the perfect location to ‘set the table’ for a successful conference in the days ahead. 

Day 2: Planning for a post-quantum future with lessons learned in the past

Tuesday kicked off with opening remarks from Keyfactor leaders. CEO Jordan Rackie, CTO Ted Shorter, Chief PKI officer Tomas Gustavsson, and SVP Strategy Admir Abdurahmanovic welcomed everyone and set the stage for a day of sessions and speakers focused on preparing for the next generation of digital transformation, including post quantum cryptography.

Next up was Erik Wahlstrom, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner, whose session “The Evolving Identity Fabric for Machines – Tools, Processes, and Teams discussed that as the number of machines (devices and workloads) now outnumber humans, security teams must discover, manage, automate, and assign owners to identifiers and credentials such as certificates, secrets, and keys. In his session, Wahlstrom defined the identity fabric for machines, acknowledged the essential differences between human and machine identities, and examined the tools, processes, and teams required to manage it at scale.

The session gave attendees much to discuss over light bites and coffee during the day’s first networking break and Sponsor Showcase.

Thank you to our sponsors: Fortanix, Thales, Microsoft, Securosys, and Unsung!

After the break, David Hook, Co-founder of the Bouncy Castle Cryptography Project and VP of Crypto Workshop at Keyfactor, took the stage. In his session, “Hardcore Crypto,” he took a closer look at some of the winning algorithms emerging from the first round of NIST’s PQC competition and the final round of  its Lightweight Cryptography competition. He shared his point of view on why these algorithms were selected and how they are positioned to be useful for the servers and smaller devices that make up the Internet of Things.

For the remainder of the day, participants attended breakout sessions hosted by industry experts on topics ranging from Securing the DevOps CI/CD Pipeline” (Karthik Lalithraj, Director of Solutions Engineering at Keyfactor), “Supply Chain Security” (Laurent Masson, CTO of Trusted Objects), “Software Signing in the Quantum Age” (Antonio Vaira, Cybersecurity Expert – PKI at Siemens AG),How to Reign in PKI and Certificate Sprawl: A Network Engineer’s Perspective” (Stacia Taylor, Network Engineer at American Equity), and “Building a Modern PKI for Enterprise & 5G Applications” (Ibrahim Akkulak, Senior Security Consultant at Rakuten Symphony Deutschland GmbH and Ellen Boehm, Boehm, SVP of Global IOT Strategy & Operations at Keyfactor).

One of many standout sessions was Keyfactor CSO Chris Hickman’s talk on the state of machine identity management. For the third consecutive year, Keyfactor and The Ponemon Institute collaborated on the State of Machine Identity Management report —an in-depth look at the role of PKI, keys, and digital certificates in securing IT organizations across EMEA and North America. In this session, Hickman offered a preview of the findings of the 2023 report, uncovered trends in PKI, signing, and identity management, and discussed how the machine identity landscape continues to evolve. 

Following the breakout sessions, attendees gathered (or tuned into the livestream) to hear a panel of industry experts discuss what it means for organizations and governments to be crypto agile in a post quantum world. Chris Hickman moderated the exciting conversation between Dr. Najwa Aara,j Chief Researcher at Technology Innovation Institute; Dr. Richard Searle, Vice President of Confidential Computing at Fortanix, Inc.; and Erik Wahlstrom, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. 

The trio addressed some of the most pressing questions related to quantum computing: What is it? When will it come to fruition? What will it mean for my business now and in the future?  They also covered the current state of quantum computing research, post-quantum cryptography, and how leading organizations are preparing for impending changes. The experts agreed that if businesses and governments embrace the principles of crypto agility now, migrating to using post quantum algorithms does not have to be painful. Before fielding questions from the audience, Searle shared these parting words: Start planning for the future now because it’s going to be here before we know it.”

While the panel participants focused on the future, Ted Shorter, Keyfactor Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, took us back in time for the last keynote of the day. In his session “20 Years of Digital Trust: PKI from the Internet to IoT,” he emphasized that from the dawn of the internet to the advent of the Internet of Things, PKI has been and continues to be the bedrock of trust in our digital world. It will continue to be foundational as we approach yet another crossroads: post quantum cryptography. 

“Just when we think PKI has reached its limit, another innovative use case emerges – from e-commerce to the cloud, e-passports to planes, trains, and automobiles. PKI is everywhere,” said Ted. “The arrival of post quantum computing is going to be a very disruptive change in our field, and it’s something we all need to pay attention to. Looking to the future, the past has taught us that we’ve taken PKI this far. A smooth migration to PQC will take effort from all of us.”

To celebrate a successful first day, Tech Days attendees enjoyed an evening at El Mamón, a hidden gem in the vibrant neighborhood of Sant Antoni, featuring Spanish and Catalan cuisine, local beverages, and live entertainment.

Day 3: Preparing for the next generation of digital transformation

Following a delicious breakfast at the W Barcelona’s Salt restaurant, Mark Thompson, SVP of Product Management at Keyfactor, previewed what’s new and what’s next on the company’s product roadmap. He emphasized that the security landscape has changed significantly. New technologies create new challenges, new algorithms require new approaches, and shifting to the cloud demands new architectures and integrations. Mark gave a preview of  the hot ticket items and roadmap highlights for 2023, plus a look at the latest innovations, emerging use cases, and how Keyfactor’s product portfolio will transform for the post-quantum world while helping organizations establish digital trust so they can continue to innovate.

A major highlight on Wednesday was Russ Housley’s talk on “Planning for Post-Quantum Cryptography: Evolution of Internet Standards.” The founder and owner of Vigil Security stated that while no one knows exactly when a large-scale quantum computer will be invented, when it does happen, all public key cryptography in use today will be at risk — allowing recorded encrypted traffic to be recovered. As a result, post-quantum cryptography is being developed and standardized, and many internet security protocols will be enhanced to use PQC algorithms. Once the protocols have been developed, it will take many years to transition. 

“The goal is to deploy post quantum cryptography algorithms before there is a large-scale quantum computer that can break the public key algorithms in widespread use today. While people gain confidence in the post quantum cryptography algorithms and their implementations, security protocols will mix traditional algorithms with pos -quantum cryptography algorithms. We need to recognize that such a transition takes a long time, at least a decade.” 

After a networking break, the program continued with a look at the latest Keyfactor products, features, and capabilities available in the Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Marketplace and what’s next on the marketplace roadmap. This was followed by breakout sessions where attendees learned about Standardization in Support of the European Union Legislation” from Slawomir Gorniak, Senior Cybersecurity Expert at ENISA and “The Power of PKI,” a panel discussion between IT and security leaders from world-leading companies in technology, finance, and manufacturing that explored how they use PKI to power and protect their businesses.

Tech Days 2023 concluded with a riveting presentation from Nina Schick, AI expert, entrepreneur, and author of “Deepfakes: The Coming Infocalypse.” Nina posited that generative AI, a type of artificial intelligence that can generate all kinds of data, including audio, code, images, text, simulations, 3D objects, videos, will lead to a new phase in human evolution — one that will fundamentally reshape all aspects of human creativity, communication, knowledge and information.

 “With generative AI, we’ve reached a new phase of human and machine interaction that will reshape how we live and work,”  she cautioned. “The era of generative AI will have a profound philosophical impact on us as humans, and moving forward, transparency and authenticity have to be core to the information ecosystem.”

Get the latest on Tech Days 2023

Thank you to the 661 participants who helped make the week a success, especially our sponsors and partners. 

Recordings of presentations and slides will be available on demand — stay tuned for an announcement in the coming weeks. For additional Tech Days 2023 highlights, follow Keyfactor on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We hope to see you at another Keyfactor event soon. Until then, #GameOn!

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