Information Security Conferences: Deadheading in 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Infosec Island Admin


I grew up in the 70′s and 80′s and I have to tell ya, I am seeing the cyclical nature of history today in the security conferences we have in the business.

What was once a group of dirty dirty free love patchouli smelling hippies, has turned into...

Well, just smelly infosec geeks going from con to con and creating even more con’s in every city conceivable to have more con’s to go to and party.

Is this just me seeing this? Did I do the brown acid?

To what end are these cons? Is it all about sharing information on hacks and tech? Is it all about partying and being wild? Is it some sense of counter culture that the community has latched on to in order to be “different”?

Cuz I have news for you all... You are now becoming one of two things:

1) The guy going on the boondoggle


2) The “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” generation v2.0

Think about it… You are the next hippies with cool toys, man.

Really, just how much are we all learning from these conferences? How much networking is going on from the business perspective? After all, I keep hearing many who say the con’s are starting to turn into IT Security sales events akin to RSA.

So what’s the deal? Do we really need that many con’s? It seems every week I hear people complaining that they can’t attend this or that con *boo hoo* or state that they are going to X, X, and X con just like I used to hear out of my peers heading out onto the road Deadheading.

What have we become?

Eh, for me I do enjoy Defcon once a year, but I guess I am just too old and crotchety to be running about to all of these con’s. Maybe it’s because I have a full time job and other obligations that I can’t just take off for every con. 

Mostly though, I wouldn’t want to. I am happy to read up on the internet about new exploits and blog, I don’t need to drink heavily and run around any more at 44…

Meanwhile, I have to wonder at the fate of those who are dead-con-ing so to speak. After all, look at all those hippies that followed the dead today... They are all pretty much old, no longer smell of patchouli, and have real lives.

You could be next.


Cross-posted from Krypt3ia

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shawn merdinger On the contrary, attending conferences is a huge opportunity to both learn and also put faces to names and meet folks one often knows only via mailing lists and a hacker handle/nom de guerre.

From a grass-roots perspective, highly technical and intimate conferences like the rapidly-developing Security B-Sides provide awesome venues to learn and network.

As for the technical learning value of security conferences, it is tangible and actionable. A recent development in the past few years is the posting online of conference videos -- a great example of this is the Chaos Computer Club archive at

GSM sniffing anyone? --
Robb Reck You haven't heard me shred with my guitar...
Rod MacPherson I hear folks crying about the dilution of infosec knowledge, and how there are too many cons these days and how not everything is all in one place like in the good old days when people were argueing over whether Defcon 2 and Defcon 3 should have come after Defcon 1 or it they should have started at 5 and worked their way to 1 like the alert system.... Boo Hoo that you can't get to all of the cons. That's not the point. I am all for the B-sides movement... not to have more parties to go to, as it is I'm lucky if I can squeeze in 2 in a year, but you know what I've been trying to find a way to get to Defcon/Blackhat for about 13 years now, and I haven't made it yet.
Smaller local cons make it possible to get knowledge spread to people who cannot afford several thousand $ to spend half their time in lines in Las Vegas.
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