Conferences for the Geographically Challenged
Sometimes it can be tough living in New Zealand. Sure we have great landscape and wonderful friendly people but you can never escape how damned far from EVERY WHERE we are.
Nothing makes this more apparent than the major international conference and training circuit.
In the last two weeks alone, this circuit has hosted not only Black Hat but also its hacker conference cousin - DEFCON (now in its 20th year). So we thought it was time to talk about how to get into conferences when you are from a small island in the South Pacific.
Conferences?? Why Bother?
Conferences are no longer about death by powerpoint and "networking" (ok so there is a bit of this). In the IT security space they are key to our development, training and community. They are where new tools are released, where new techniques are announced and taught and where many companies hire their staff.
Now when most people think of IT security conferences their mind wanders to distant hotel lobbies full of suited CIO's and vendors. While these are a perfectly valid choice if this is your thing, the IT security space has a whole range of global Hacker conferences that should be on your radar.
Rather than list them all lets have a look at the major hacker conferences out there and how to engage with them without spending millions of dollars on airfare.
(to be honest the list is constantly changing and the team here at in2securITy credit you with the power to Google)
Jan: Shmoo Con - USA
Feb: Hack in The Box
Mar: Black Hat Europe
Jul: Black Hat USA
Jul: DEF CON
Oct: Hacker Halted
Dec: WordToor: End of the World
Ok, so there are some pretty funky looking names there and with a quick poke around online, I'm sure you can double the size of that list (especially if you include the bi-annual conferences and informal meet ups such as BSides).
Less QQ - More PewPew
So you really want to know what's going on at these conferences but you live in the Waikato?
Perhaps you saw the talks listed online but just can't save up $10k for a trip to Vegas for 2 weeks...
Enough with the excuses. It's time to embrace the internet people.
The great thing about modern conferences is the amount of media they share both before, during and after the event. You may not be able to drink 20oz Margaritas in Vegas but you should still be able to follow the talks and events as they unfold with a bit of careful planning.
The number 8 wire guide to international conferences
- Get the dates together for all the interesting conferences and pop them in your calendar, set up Google notifications and sign up to their mailing lists.... you may not be able to attend in person but you can still keep track of what they are up to
- Go through old conference archives. Hacker conferences are reknowned for sharing their talks (slides and audio normally). Download/ Stream and Learn.
- During the event use social media monitoring (Twitter, Reddit etc) to keep track of the news from the event as it happens. This is a great way to find related links and reading material.
- Get hold of the videos! They may take a while to surface but some conferences record their talks in full colour video magic. Check out youtube for uploaded versions or try contacting the conference organisers (they may charge for a DVD but this could be a good investment)
- Hook up with friends for a REDUX - Watch/Listen to the recordings of old talks as a group and discuss (perhaps over beer). Watching talks as a group can be a great way to get the most from them. Not only do you each have different opinions and perspectives but you will be able to talk around related issues as they come up (something you don't often get to do at the conference itself)
- Catch the post-conference pod casts for summaries of the key points and best talks. Not only is this free but you don't have to sit through the boring stuff - someone has done that bit for you ;)
Get your first DIY international conference experience underway today
Check out https://www.blackhat.com/html/bh-us-12/bh-us-12-archives.html for the archive of slides from Black Hat 2012.
The team at in2securITy know that there is a treasure trove of material online to support these talks and those from DEFCON 20.
What can you find?
Post links to your findings in the comments for a chance to win!