back to article Roses are red, IBM is Big Blue. It's out of RSA Conference after coronavirus review: IBMers will not attend infosec event over 'health concerns'

IBM has pulled out of annual security shindig RSA Conference, due to be held in San Francisco at the end of this month, to avoid its staff catching the Wuhan novel coronavirus that's spreading worldwide. "The health of IBMers continues to be our primary concern as we monitor upcoming events and travel relative to Novel …

  1. zarchasmpgmr

    Now I’m curious if IBM will pull out of SHARE, which is the same week. Is the pullout related to location and attendee mix? Or is it global concerns? We’ll probably find out next week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Based on concerns about the spread of COVID-19 from a bus conference in London, you would have to assume any large gathering involving people who travel a lot through major US/European/Asia-Pacific hubs is likely to be at risk. Or maybe I'm just underestimating the exciting developments in the omnibus industry which are drawing people in...

      In a few months we will know if we over-reacted or not but we are early in the learning process for this virus but optional travel/conferences over February/March may delay peoples/companies plans but these things happen.

  2. HildyJ Silver badge


    On the one hand, I can understand IBM's move from an HR point of view with prospective attendees worried about participating in the conference.

    On the other hand, outside of China influenza remains a much bigger threat and conferences are still held during influenza season.

    On the other hand (third hand's the charm), do mega conferences still make sense in the digital world?

    1. Steve Aubrey

      Re: Overblown?

      That third hand is called the "gripping hand" - cf. "The Mote in God's Eye". Thank you, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overblown?

      "On the other hand, outside of China influenza remains a much bigger threat and conferences are still held during influenza season."

      Influenza has near total coverage of the globe and causes 250,000-600,000 deaths annually but a selection of treatments that are usually effective aside from late treatment or complications due to other health issues.

      COVID-19 has coverage of maybe a few million at most so far, a higher death rate and we are still learning how to effectively diagnose, treat and contain the spread of the virus and the incubation period appears to allow it to spread rapidly through medical facilities rendering them significantly less effective.

      I'm not suggesting that COVID-19 is necessarily going to be a massive pandemic but the longer we can limit the spread, the more time we have to discover how to contain and treat this. In particular, getting past the NH winter flu season will likely result in people self-isolating rather than just assuming it is influenza and continuing to spread the virus. While the southern hemisphere will still be entering winter flu season, the combination of a fraction of the population (~10%) in predominantly warm countries will likely slow the infection rate. I accept there are lots of assumptions, but most are valid for risk management purposes.

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Overblown?

      do mega conferences still make sense in the digital world?

      See Rupert Goodwins' article on MWC...

      "Not all conferences are useless or as obscenely over the top as MWC. There's a simple rule that applies to many other things, but especially here: the more marketing runs it, the less useful it is.

      Conferences run by engineers for their peers are peerless: they want to talk about real-world problems and working solutions, they want to learn what's actually going on from people who don't have a marcom budget. They value each other's time. Marketing-led affairs don't want to talk about their problems, because they only have solutions. Expensive solutions. Security conferences run by hackers, wireless conferences run by makers, even company conferences with people who make the tech, are usually a joy. Having Oracle tell you how fantastic Oracle is, is not."

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Overblown?

      As was trotted out the other day by way of perspective, in the USA alone in this 'flu[1] season they've had 19 million(!) cases and 10k deaths.

      So the "outside of China" qualifier is unnecessary. Globally you are considerably more likely to die of 'flu...

      [1] The currently circulating viral disease that's highly infectious, has a low mortality rate and for which there is no reliable vaccine. Not the one causing panic in the press, the one you're actually likely to get.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Viruses at conferences

    I always assumed the main vector for conference viruses were via STDs...

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Viruses at conferences

      Damn. I’ve been going to conferences for 25 years and have obviously been doing it wrong all that time.

      1. SotarrTheWizard

        Re: Viruses at conferences

        . . .or you had Durex anti-virus. . .

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "RSA Conference is still planning to proceed as scheduled"

    RSA Conference is going to learn the hard way that no, it will not proceed as scheduled.

    It's just a question of time.

  5. Alan J. Wylie

    Discussion on COVID-19 affecting the upcoming ICANN conference in Cancún, Mexico

  6. 2Blockchainz

    Attendees at RSA conferencr

    Will be PE firms trying to ascertain if RSA has any intellectual property to make it worth acquiring.

  7. MattWPBS

    CP+ (one of the biggest photography shows) has been cancelled in Yokohama as well.

  8. Alan J. Wylie

    Fortinet Barcelona cancelled

    On the bright side, for a couple of my co-workers, they picked up the free flights and accommodation at the last minute.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We should learn from the Singapore conference

    The small conference in Singapore had spread the novel Coronavirus all the way to a family in a ski resport in France via a British attendee. The impact a conference the size of RSA can have on the spread on COVID-19 could be tremendous. Numerous exhibitors are arriving from countries such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc. - all with signs of signiificant spread of the virus outside of China.I understand the cautious stance that MWC and Facebook are taking by cancelling their events and I think RSA should follow suit. People's lifes are at stake and Cybersecurity can wait a year.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020