25 Bizarre Scenes From RSA 2008

Security isn't magic. But the security professional at Narus Software definitely could have proven otherwise when he swallowed an entire balloon. If anything, his daredevil antics certainly drew a crowd.

If there was a contest, this probably would win the prize for the "Most Bizarre" scene from RSA Conference 2008. Following his balloon trick, the security professional at Narus Software elicited audience support to help him pull an extra, extra, extra long ribbon from his mouth.

Mirage Networks used a windsurfing theme to show that its network access control technology can help companies protect themselves against security threats. But some conference attendees wondered if the recreational message was the right one for a NAC vendor to send, given the recent turmoil in the NAC space.

NAC vendor Forescout won the unofficial RSA prize for creepiest T-shirt with this little nugget of wisdom about the implications of surfing the Web.

Barracuda Networks' tour bus, with its distinctive 'NOSPAM9' license plate, was back at RSA this year, with about 10,000 more miles on the odometer, and many stories to tell about parties that took places inside. One of its main jobs is shuttling customers and partners to and from San Jose Sharks games.

RSA's theme this year was all about conquering one's fears, and they even made it possible for conference attendees to do so right on the show floor, by scaling this rock climbing wall. Attendees were required to sign a waiver first, however.

As part of its anti-fear marketing campaign, RSA was playing a looped video with a slightly scary character actor assuming a variety of roles, all of which tied into the central theme that security is important and so are mountain goats.

The RSA actor donned fake buck teeth and channeled the late actor Jim Varney (of the 'Ernest' films), pretending to be a dimwit who nonetheless is capable of some pretty poignant observations about the need for companies to secure their networks from a multitude of threats.

Secure Computing was one of about 17 vendors at RSA that used the game show theme to test conference attendees' security knowledge.

Secure Computing went to great lengths to get people excited about showing off their security knowledge at RSA 2008.

Who says security doesn't let you explore your creative side? This man near the ProofPoint booth decided to take a little break from the frenetic pace of the RSA Conference show floor and play his toy guitar. Or maybe pursue his dream as a professional musician.

Security vendor Net Optics, Santa Clara, Calif., used a Wheel Of Fortune theme to teach folks about the pitfalls of an improperly secured network. One conference attendee mistook the game for the 1980s game show Press Your Luck, and started shouting 'Big money, no whammies' over and over until eventually being escorted from the premises by Moscone Center security staff.

Security threats are unpredictable. And you never know where the next one is coming from, unless you understand the game. This point was underscored at the EndCode booth, where this magician entertained the crowds with an array of card tricks. Guests watched incredulously as cards disappeared before their eyes, only to reappear in their pockets. Or in their hands. Plus, any aspiring card sharks who can't make it in Vegas, can always try their luck at the RSA Conference next year.

With hundreds of vendors displaying, many vendors needed to put their own unique way to stand out. We know that security vendors are all-seeing. But SanDisk takes this to a whole new level. Underscoring the vigilance that security vendors are constantly trying to achieve, the SanDisk booth highlighted the company's sense of imagination with something a little artistic and surreal.

Wearing sports jerseys embossed with their company logo, these security professionals at the Red Condor booth clearly demonstrated that they planned to beat out the competition -- and the bad guys -- all while having a little fun. But ultimately, it just goes to show that they're on the same team when it comes to security. And when these guys got a little tired of talking security, they just pulled out the spongy footballs for a little game of catch.

What happens when you run out of chairs and need to meet with a client? Others might look for a conference room. Or even worse, reschedule. Not these Still Secure employees. Applying innovative and imaginative skills as security experts, they decided to use these comfy oversized balls.

Sometimes being in security is about being first -- beating the competition, and certainly beating the malware authors. This year Fortinet actually let their booth visitors act out their competitive aggressions with some racecar video games, which were played against other conference attendees. Of course, tearing these game players to see the rest of the conference was a little easier said than done. At least we can be sure that these games were virtually unhackable.

No, they didn't mistake RSA for an auto show. This car at the NetOptics booth underscores that security is a race to beat the malware authors and the cyber attacks. Plus, the car seemed to draw in booth visitors like magnets. Many stopped by just to say 'cool car.' (There are also unsubstantiated reports that the NetOptics car plans to challenge the Barracuda van to a drag race at the end of the conference.)

No doubt, every game or activity takes a lot of preparation. AppSec, a database security company, challenged its booth visitors to a game of security trivia. Of course, there's nothing like a good trivia game to make you realize how much you don't know. Perhaps surprisingly, even security professionals stumbled on answers to questions about botnets and the number of compromised records in the last year. (By the way, those are bells on the armrests)

Google displayed its bright yellow search appliance at RSA and spent much of the time talking about Google Messaging Discovery, which uses technology from its Postini acquisition to provide archiving, discovery, and compliance functionality. But some conference attendees gravitated to the Google booth just because the search appliance is so darned pretty.

It's the old arcade classic Whack-A-Mole, applied to IT security. Instead of smashing small, blind, ground dwelling critters, conference attendees got to mash rootkits, keyloggers, and drive-by browser exploits.

NAV vendor Forescout, when it wasn't telling employees to wash their hands after surfing the Internet, sent the message that NAC is like a traffic cone, always alerting folks to dangers up ahead. But hopefully it's not causing traffic jams that are normally associated with construction zones.

nCipher, a Cambridge, UK-based encryption and key management vendor, was trying to make everyone believe that key management really isn't all that hard to understand. Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

With all the meetings, keynotes, parties, other events at this year's RSA Conference, shoes no doubt will get a little dirty. But RSA was thinking ahead -- the shoe shiners always seemed to be busy. With the frantic pace of the conference, sometimes it was nice for attendees to sit back, relax and let someone pamper them for a little while.

Cryptography Research, a San Francisco-based firm dedicated to security evaluation and applied engineering work, showed off an Enigma Machine, which was used by the Germans in World War II for encrypted communications. The Enigma cipher was broken by Alan Turing and a group of scientists during the latter stages of the war.