Avast Team, Jul 9, 2020

2019’s CyberSec&AI conference had a fantastic start when it was named as ‘Event of the Year’ at the AI Awards. As one of the founders and speakers, what did you most enjoy about it?

It was exceptionally enjoyable as it was the first time I’d seen such a great collection of people from both academia and industry together in one place discussing the challenges of AI and cybersecurity. 

There are many fantastic conferences in the area of cybersecurity and many events also dedicated to AI. However, we are interested in the intersection of these two fields and there are very few conferences in this area. So we were delighted to launch our conference last year and bring together minds from both academia and industry to discuss and debate together in person. 

Was there anything in particular you learnt or came away with that made the biggest impression on you?

The big takeaway for me was the fact that the worlds of academia and industry don’t talk as often as they should. Those in academia can make assumptions about the challenges in the real world that aren’t always quite right. Similarly, those in industry are always yearning for more advancements in the science behind how we use AI for cybersecurity. I think if both sides collaborated more there would be clear benefits for all. This was something that really came up with attendees at last year’s conference, and demonstrated the need for such an event. 

Rajarshi Gupta’s 2019 presentation focused areas of academic research in AI-Security that could help the security industry combat new and future threats

This year we have a new virtual format, allowing people to attend, watch and interact from wherever they are in the world. This is hopefully to be combined with a selection of local physical meetups in major cities. Can you tell us a little about what this hybrid setup brings to the mix?

Obviously it is a real positive to have everyone in one place to interact directly. But on the other hand, when you have an entire conference in one location, it can be difficult for many people to attend, especially from the other side of the world. A one day conference can be, in reality, a three day commitment when you factor in travel. 

With a virtual option you can remove that time and travel commitment not just for delegates, but for speakers. This makes it easier to have a truly global event and bring together insight and expertise from around the world. That’s a real strength of the virtual format and boosts the quality of the agenda and content too.  

On top of that, we don’t want to completely lose the intimacy of meeting in person. If travel restrictions and social distancing allow, we aim to hold meetups in cities like London, San Francisco and Prague. Many of the speakers will actually present their talks to the worldwide digital audience from these locations, giving them both a physical and online audience. Those attending the physical meetups will also be able to watch presentations from all over the world, not just the ones at their location. Each venue will have large screens and facilities allowing them to be just as engaged as those connecting purely online.

The size and scale of these meetups will depend on what is allowed according to local regulations in each region and the safety of our audience and speakers is our top priority. This hybrid approach we think will really help deepen and enrich the experience for both those in attendance and those connecting virtually.  

This year’s conference theme looks at AI for privacy and cybersecurity. Have you any thoughts on recent developments in this area and what we can expect to see in the near future?

Last year the main theme of the conference was how AI was being used in cybersecurity for both for attack and defense. At Avast, of course, we use AI to defend from cyberattacks. But AI is also being deployed in attack too and this concept of adversarial AI was key to our 2019 event. 

In recent times, the world has increased its focus on privacy. This year’s conference theme examines how AI is used to protect people’s privacy, but equally also poses a significant risk to that privacy as well. The challenges AI presents with privacy are very similar to the challenges around security too. 

Recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, offer a very clear example of this. Using data around people’s travels and social interactions can obviously bring significant benefits from a medical standpoint. However, it also brings a multitude of problems around people’s privacy. 

A number of countries and research groups are working very hard on how to have this contact tracing technology while still maintaining privacy. Indeed, one of our speakers, Professor Carmela Troncoso of EPFL (Switzerland), will be speaking specifically about European efforts in this area. This is an excellent example of the timely and in-depth insight that those attending CyberSec&AI Connected will have access to, whether in person or via our online platform. 

To secure your place at CyberSec&AI Connected, visit our booking page to take advantage of our Summer Rate or 3 for 2 access offer.

This article features

Rajarshi Gupta

VP, Head of AI & Network Security

CyberSecAI Connected 2020

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