Source: | Tom Ballard | July 12, 2017

EDGE Security ConferenceWith the event only a few months away, details about the second annual “EDGE Security Conference” are coming together.

Set for October 17 and 18 at the Knoxville Convention Center, this year’s event features daily keynote presentations by well-known speakers plus a line-up of other industry experts that currently totals about 30. The first day of the conference will feature Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, the renowned “White Hat” Hackers that are responsible for the Jeep Cherokee hack,  while day two is keynoted by Major General Brett Williams who formerly headed the U.S. Cyber Command.

“The success of our first EDGE empowered us to build upon last year’s speaker quality in order to feature even more impressive content this year,” says Mike Mangione, Vice President of Business Strategy and Marketing for Sword & Shield Enterprise Security.

The Knoxville-based company is the presenting sponsor, but Mangione emphasizes that EDGE is an industry conference and community event.

“It’s important to us to build a platform that offers balanced information from multiple perspectives to make this conference a valuable use of time for our attendees,” he notes. “We will even have some of our industry competitors speaking, sponsoring and exhibiting.”

Last year’s inaugural EDGE conference drew about 350 people. The goal for this year’s event is 600 to 700 attendees. EDGE is well on its way to fulfilling this aspiration, with more than 200 pre-registered at the early bird price. To accommodate the larger crowd, Sword & Shield moved the conference to the Knoxville Convention Center.

“Our overall theme is to create true collaboration where complex business security problems meet real-world solutions,” Mangione says, adding that many cybersecurity conferences are very theoretical. “We want attendees to be able to go back to their offices and immediately implement solutions they heard about at EDGE.”

During our recent interview, Mangione talked about a focus on converging two communities – those in cybersecurity and the Knoxville area.

“EDGE is a boost for the city,” he says. “There are not many easily accessible cybersecurity conferences on the East Coast. This is an opportunity to bring a cybersecurity focus to a location that is already a center for impressive technical resources.”

As previously reported in several articles on, there is an on-going effort to brand the region’s strengths under a new initiative named the Cyber and Information Security Consortium. John McNeely, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sword & Shield, is a major player in that effort that also includes CISCO Systems, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, and Pellissippi State Community College.

That focus includes having those within the region, as well as those from other areas, to understand why Knoxville is an ideal location for a premier security conference.

“Part of our goal with EDGE is to bring more awareness of Knoxville’s strengths – technology generally and cyber security specifically,” Mangione added. “It just makes sense.”

With just one year of branding, one might think that recruiting speakers to EDGE could be a challenge, but the opposite is true.

“This year, they are finding us,” Mangione says. “We’re excited about the quality of the content we’ll be able to provide our attendees. It’s going to be a great conference.”

Go to the conference website to see an updated list that as of the writing of this article included:

  • Chris Poulin, Principal and Director of Booz Allen Hamilton;
  • Stephen Fridakis, Chief Information Security Officer for HBO;
  • Ben Johnson, Co-Founder of Carbon Black;
  • Larry Bray, Security Advisor at BIMASS;
  • William Dixon, Vice President with Stroz Friedberg’s Security Science Practice; and
  • Paul Coggin, Cybersecurity Research Scientist at Wells Fargo.

Those interested in sponsoring can find more information here. To register, click here.