Last month, I attended my first BSides conference in Austin and was excited to see what it was all about. I wanted to go to the inaugural BSides DC event last year but couldn’t make it. Having just moved to Austin (you know, like everyone else), I was excited to see there was a local BSides conference coming up.
For the uninformed, BSides conferences are smaller gatherings of information security professionals designed to be as inclusive as possible (in other words, it’s dirt cheap). It’s also meant to have a greater sense of community since it’s comprised of locals in your area. Think of RSA or BlackHat but less vendors, less people, and more local. I wasn’t expecting much given that each ticket was so cheap, but I had heard good things.
Originally there were two days of events but was increased to three to accommodate a larger crowd for the “Windows Event Logging” workshop. This was the one workshop I was most interested in since I think Windows event logs are often neglected by security teams. Unfortunately, because of the schedule change, I couldn’t attend so I can’t really say how it was. I ended up only attending Thursday’s events since Friday seemed more SCADA-focused.
All that said, here are some of my thoughts:
- I enjoyed the keynote speaker, Chet Wisniewski, of Sophos. Really cool talk about credit card security.
- The lunch talk regarding career strategies was a good listen. I didn’t learn anything particularly groundbreaking, but it did help confirm to me what’s worth doing and what’s not.
- For the most part, the “Catch Me If You Can” workshop on how to be a better blue teamer was interesting. It was more a general discussion and walkthrough of an attack rather than a hands-on lab. Would’ve been nice to have it more hands-on, but I imagine that would be a nightmare to plan and coordinate especially given how low the budget must be.
- Lunch was catered by Panera and there was free beer. Pretty nice considering that much more expensive conferences like SANS don’t provide food.
- I didn’t stay for the evening events, so I’ll have to check those out next year.
- The slides for the workshops including the Windows logging one I missed were posted. Very helpful.
- It was incredibly cold inside the main conference room the entire time. This isn’t a unique problem to BSides, but really most conferences.
- It’s called BSides Austin, but it’s technically in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. Depending on where you live in Austin, this is quite a drive in terms of distance and traffic (as I found out!). Would be nice if they moved it to downtown Austin next year.
For a grand total of $11.24 a day this was not a bad deal. I’ll likely attend next year and try to meet more people. See you there!