RSA 2010: 20 Bizarre Scenes And Weird Happenings

As the dust settles following another RSA, most looking back would agree that this year's conference was relatively quiet compared to years past. Blame it on the economy, but there seemed to be a little less of everything -- less Google, less hokey booth tricks and games, and quite a few less glamorous booth greeters, also known as "booth babes." But that didn't stop some vendors from putting their creativity to the test and coming up with innovative ways to pull in visitors, whether it was with money machines, game shows or Sumo wrestlers. Here are a few bizarre scenes and weird signage from the show floor.

TripWire has it all over security with its own brand of booth greeters, complete with black vinyl jackets, shades and uniform police hats. And they wear it well. Don't you feel safer already?

The FBI, which was exhibiting at RSA, expressed that it wanted to recruit certain editors into the agency -- possibly to head the front lines for a stealth mission. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Call it a small fib, but we told agent Elvis Chan that we had too many reporters doing undercover work in the field already (although the pictures of the special agents bursting into that house with guns gave one reason to reconsider).

In one of the most entertaining booth gimmicks at this year's RSA Conference, AppSec featured a Sumo wrestler as its mascot and, not surprisingly, employed a real live Sumo wrestler to give their booth a little, er, personality. The Sumo primarily posed for photos and signed autographs (while never complaining once that it was cold.) Associate Editor Stefanie Hoffman couldn't pass this opportunity by to get her photo taken with the bored Sumo wrestler.

What's old is not new. It's still old, but somehow more entertaining. Sourcefire is one of many vendors that featured video games at its booth. (It shouldn't be that surprising -- this is a security conference after all). And let's face it -- young and old, no one really tires of video games.

At its booth, Sourcefire featured a life-size inflated balloon of SNORT -- the company's mascot pig. SNORT's impish exterior belies that he is actually the company's open source network intrusion prevention and detection system (IDS/IPS) that combines signature, protocol and anomaly-based inspection. Plus he's kind of cute too.

As with all celebrities, SNORT was subject to an array of merchandising. Sourcefire was giving away SNORT calendars, featuring the complete set of SNORT retro video games, such as "Hogger," "Pac Pig" and "Snort Invaders." Sounds like fun.

Game shows are always very popular on the RSA show floor. This year, Symantec customers and potential customers were invited to play, "So You Think You Know Symantec," an audience interactive game show in the booth and also online via the @symantec Twitter account in which contestants tested their Symantec knowledge to win prizes.

The wide-eyed Tri-Geo guy was alive and well at the company's RSA booth, startling RSA attendees. Questions still persist as to whether he's had his data stolen or just returned from having a root canal.

This year, Kaspersky Lab featured Jackie Chan as its mascot, displayed prominently at their RSA booth. But this time Jackie Chan wasn't portrayed in his typical Kung Fu fighting poses. Oh no. Apparently the renowned martial artist icon fights the cybervillains best when on a Segue -- which Kaspersky happened to be giving away at its booth.

To attract more users to its booth, ArcSight let visitors step into the money machine and try to catch $20s, $5 and $1 bills as they blew around. Every bill they caught they got to keep. Sounds easy? Not so much, brave contestants said.

CA jumped on the retro video-game bandwagon at its RSA booth with some racing games. (When in doubt, feature a booth game that will occupy visitors for hours.) Booth visitors seemed to have fun, except, of course, when another driver cut them off.

At its RSA booth, CA also featured its own marketing rendition of hit TV series "The Office," similarly titled, "The IT Office," featuring Channel Chief Dave Hansen in the role of the bumbling manager, leading a team of IT nitwits. (As a testament to that fact, one such "employee" even has the sign reading "knit wit" in the background of his office.) Essentially the story features a group of office professionals -- and we use that term loosely -- with embarrassing deficiencies in IT products and best practices, setting the standard for what not to do.

Network gateway company Merchant Link apparently got access to some secret photos revealing how credit card data is really stolen. Purple monsters -- who knew?

Indeed, a spa treatment door prize, which security company Comodo gave away at RSA, seems to be a compelling reason for booth visitors to ask why the company's certificate management solution is the world's best.

An IOActive booth visitor gets into his game of Donkey Kong on the RSA Conference show floor. Software assurance and compliance company IOActive was another IT vendor to join the ranks of exhibitors featuring retro video games, officially making RSA Conference one of the best-attended arcades in the city. Whatever works, right?

Symantec conducted tours of its own version of the Internet Black Market at its booth on the RSA show floor. On the tour, visitors got the Cliff Notes lecture on the inner workings of cybercrime organizations, and how cybercriminals buy, sell and trade financial personally identifying information such as credit cards, Social security numbers, e-mail addresses, passwords, logins, etc...

Lumension found ways to promote its security suites and whitelisting technologies at RSA with its own special brand of guerrilla advertising. Works every time.

Authentify's booth was adorned with life-size cardboard cutouts of superheros -- The Authenticators -- who swoop down and fight cybercrime. Naturally, the Authenticators have their own comic book story, in which they protect a corporate network from a malicious botnet that threatens to steal passwords and users' identities. We won't tell you who wins, so as not to give away the ending.

What seems more natural at the world's largest international security conference than an exhibit… promoting investment in Switzerland? While maybe not the most likely exhibitor, booth attendants at Osec, a Swiss trade and investment promotion company, said that it was their mission to garner clients -- including IT security and other high-tech companies -- to invest on Swiss soil. And business at the show seemed to be booming, they said -- their only competitor at RSA being the German investment company on the other side of the show floor.