Intrinium believes in employee engagement, enrichment and education. One of my favorite parts of my job is having the ability to attend conferences. It is one of the best ways to stay up to date on relevant information security and technology topics, tactics, and tools.
Over the past year, our company attended a variety of conferences and events across the country. From Seattle to Austin to Louisville to Las Vegas, it was a significant conference year for me. At most security conferences, there is a common “best practice” rules and regulations.
Rule 1: No Crowd Shots: Respect people’s privacy
Rule 2: Don’t Be a Jerk: Most, if not all larger conferences have an established code of conduct and special staff there to ensure a safe space for all attendees
Rule 3: Do All the Things: Conferences tend to not just have talks, but also workshops and villages that provide a fantastic opportunity to learn about all the facets of hacker culture.
Each conference tends to also have their own unique culture that sets it apart from the rest. There were some valuable and fun experiential engagements that were worth noting from 2018, my top favorites were:
- Hardware Hacking Villages, where you can learn to solder and build your own badges (DEFCON, Derbycon, and Cactuscon were my favorite three)
- Social Engineering Villages, which tend to have competitions on live targets (no recording in there either!) The DEFCON competition is notorious, and the Derbycon event is tough as well.
- Capture The Flag/Packet, where you can test your skills against your peers. This is the most hardcore by far, but I’m proud that Stephen Heath and I did fairly well at the DEFCON Capture the Packet.
One of the most notorious events that attempts to stay true to its roots is DEFCON. DEFCON was started by Jeff Moss (a Spokane native) in 1993 as a farewell party to his friend and fellow hacker.
To this day, they have maintained elements that began when it started 25 years ago. One of my favorite elements is a charity function where you can receive a mohawk in return for a donation.
Furthermore, the attendee list is so diverse you never know if you are talking with an FBI agent or a true “blackhat” on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Meanwhile, at Derbycon, several people create their own unique derby and display them throughout the conference.
After hours is when you can take the time to network or enjoy the sites of a new city. And, if you are lucky, you can catch a concert or two like I did – at Derbycon I was able to see Vanilla Ice and The Offspring, and have seen Dual Core (a rapping hacker duo) several times.
Ultimately, these conferences allow for attendees to create their own experience. If you want to go listen to talks and panels all day, you can. If you want to watch a few talks and otherwise be hunkered over a table with a soldering iron while you exchange custom badges with other attendees, you can. I highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunities!