Leading security experts to gather in Montreal

Over 900 specialists from 92 countries to participate in the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) five-day programme in Canada.

Global Incident response and security teams from across the world will gather in Canada for the 35th Annual FIRST Conference, entitled ‘Empowering Communities’ in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montréal, from June 4 to June 9, 2023.

Over 900 people from across six continents will participate, as the not-for-profit aims to deliver worldwide coordination and cooperation among computer security and incident response teams.

From Burkina Faso to Brazil, Kazakhstan to Kiribati, Australia to America, the participants from over 90 countries are the leading lights in their field.  Governments, academia, and businesses, all have a critical agenda as cyber security issues continue to rapidly increase worldwide, and global coordination is never more vital to make the internet safe for everyone.

The conference strongly focuses this year on diversity, with the five-day event exploring various themes led by nearly 120 contributors, representing six continents, from critical infrastructure, national agencies, regulatory bodies, industry, cyber insurance, and academia.

Notable organisations such as National Cybersecurity Agency of France, Ghana Association of Banks, NTT Data Corporation, CIRCL, European Commission, Fortinet, Purdue University, Fujitsu, Ericsson, Northwestern Mutual, Cisco, CERT US, Spamhaus, MITRE Engenuity, Adobe, Microsoft, and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security will lead conversations.

Dr. Nina Kollars (Department of Defense, US) and Allison Pytlak (Stimson Center) will lead discussions on why, and in what ways, gender diversity creates better cybersecurity. From the technical tactical to the social; from the keyboard to the boardroom; and from the Department of Defense to the United Nations, they will highlight just why gender diversity in cybersecurity matters.

A lively panel discussion will also take place focusing on how to better empower female talent in incident response. According to a recent ISC2 workforce study, around 24% of the cybersecurity workforce is female. Yet despite the need for more diverse representation being a prominent conversation topic across the industry, there is still little focus on how it is achieved. Rebecca Taylor from Secureworks will facilitate "The Female Conversation" looking at everything from recruitment to team dynamics, to reasonable adjustments, and to bridging the gender pay gap.

Other notable discussions on the agenda include a keynote from Lesley Carhart, Director of Incident Response for North America at the industrial cybersecurity company Dragos, Inc. Lesley will walk delegates through the intriguing history of the digital control devices which supply power, water, gas, and manufacturing services (among others), how they grew into the systems they are today, and how attacks have developed against them.

Chris Lynam (RCMP) will focus on the vulnerabilities cyber criminals aim to exploit and the new global challenges facing law. As the cybercriminal continues to evolve, so does the cyber security community dedicated to lessening vulnerability working with law enforcement partners aiming to reduce cyber-criminality. Forging further partnerships between both will be critical to fight the criminals. Many other hot topics will be addressed from DDoS, Authentication Proxy, and Ransomware Attacks to Safeguarding IoT Devices in Digital Age, Phishing, Malware and the rise in hard-to-detect Spoof Mails.

Chris Gibson, CEO, FIRST commented: “This annual conference has now become a critical calendar event for leaders in the cybersecurity and incident response fields to share key strategies and tactics to solve the ever-increasing threats we face worldwide.

“As a membership organisation, we work to ensure that our Annual Conference brings as much value as possible. Over the five days, our goal is to inspire and empower participants to take new thinking and tactics back with them to their everyday roles as they continue to defend people across the globe against cyberattacks.”

Edward Norminton, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and FIRST Annual Conference Program Chair, added: “Montréal, and Canada, is a perfect setting to host the many leading experts in this area with the cyber security sector on a significant growth trajectory.

“This conference is critical for the global community of incident responders and security teams. The never-ending changes in technology and how we do business, from AI to remote working, bring new threats that must be addressed.

“Our theme, “Empowering Communities” reflects how we, as experts in cyber defence, must learn from each other to address common challenges, but solutions must be tailored to the needs of cities, countries, critical infrastructure sectors, product development and so many other unique communities.”

Cyber specialists must work together to tackle online crime, as many instances do not occur in isolation, or just in one geographical area. FIRST provides the unique platform for everyone to unite and work towards a safer cyber community for all.

At the FIRST Conference participants will share goals, ideas, and information on how to improve global computer security, with delegates learning the latest security strategies in incident management, increasing their knowledge and technical insight about security problems and solutions, and gaining insights into analysing network vulnerabilities.



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