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IEEE HOST 2020 – Virtual Event Case Study

With ongoing travel restrictions and public gatherings still prohibited by circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the organizers for IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST), the premier symposium that facilitates the rapid growth of hardware-based security research and development, made the decision to convert the in-person conference to an all-virtual experience. The original date and location were 4-7 May in San Jose, CA; the event was rescheduled to take place December 7 – 11, and was executed in a virtual format.  

The IEEE HOST program included keynote speakers, virtual presentations, and a virtual exhibit hall with hardware demos, presentations, and networking opportunities.

 HOST 2020 Challenges

The intent of the committee was to stay as true as possible to the original technical program of invited talks and paper and poster presentations, as well as to fulfill networking and exhibitor expectations. Authors would virtually deliver presentations with conference attendees participating in real-time for HOST and meetups via the online platform.

Challenges included:

  • Due to the pandemic, the conference was rescheduled from May to December, in hopes that the circumstances of in-person events would improve by the fourth quarter. In time, it was evident that the event would need to take place in a virtual format, and the organizers modified all event plans to accommodate the required elements of a virtual conference.
  • Selecting a virtualization platform with the capabilities to support their program.

Virtual infrastructure

The Computer Society (CS) team assisted the committee with recommendations and review of various virtual platforms to maintain the integrity of the program. Several key factors informed the choice of platform such as the number of sessions, the specifics required for each, and the ease of use for attendees.

HOST 2020 Successes

  • IEEE HOST 2020 was technically, financially, and virtually successful
  • HOST 2020 Proceedings were published in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library and the Computer Society Digital Library
  • With the support of the IEEE CS Exhibit/Sponsorship team, HOST achieved 8 corporate sponsors, 7 exhibitor sponsors, and 3 media partnerships.

Survey feedback included the following:

  • More than nine in ten respondents (92%) indicated they were satisfied1 with HOST 2020.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) indicate they are likely to attend HOST 2021 in person if global travel has resumed.
  • The greater majority (85%) are likely to do so if it is virtual.

 Many factors make planning a virtual event different from a traditional in-person conference – visit the IEEE Computer Society Virtual Event Resource Guide to learn more.


Hardware plays an increasingly important and integral role in system security with many emerging system and application vulnerabilities and defense mechanisms relating to hardware. IEEE International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST) aims to facilitate the rapid growth of hardware-based security research and development. HOST highlights new results in the area of hardware and system security. Relevant research topics include techniques, tools, design/test methods, architectures, circuits, and applications of secure hardware.