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6 Ways InfoSec Conferences Lengthen Strides Toward Security Success


“We’ve learned that when security is done right, it’s done as a community.” -Heather Adkins, Director of Information Security, Google


Unity Leads To Victory…

A major contributor to security success is individuals’ willingness to work together. Organizations that function cohesively are much more victorious, not only in their overall business achievements, but in their defenses against malicious adversaries. This collective mentality allows for more “winning” across the infosec community as well. From my recent experiences at the 2015 BSides Pittsburgh and BSides Cleveland InfoSec Conferences, I have compiled a few ways I believe these conferences are an important part of advancing the unity and success across our community. 

1.) Conferences present a free-flowing knowledge pool for you to dive into

It’s no secret, that the security landscape is in constant motion and will leave you behind if you’re standing still. Having a raw curiosity – a continual interest in learning something new – is essential in this field. From my experiences, I view these infosec conferences as one educational, community-style setting for security enthusiasts to learn (if they choose), with the collective purpose of strengthening the security posture as a whole. In the infosec world, the quote “power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it,” really becomes an important truth and something good to keep in mind.

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2.) Get the inside scoop on the new trends and approaches out there

Conferences are one way infosec pros choose to keep up-to-date on the latest security trends and practices. The infosec industry requires a high demand for diligent attention, extensive application, and continuous knowledge development. Just as we, here at Hurricane Labs, recommend that our clients have a strong sense of goals when it comes to their security strategies, it’s also not a bad idea to organize your objectives for the information you gather and what you plan on doing with it afterwards. For more ways to organize, follow and share updates, take a look at the article: “How to Stay Up-to-Date on Security Trends.”

3.) Because Google only goes so far compared to thinking outside the (search) box…

What better way to learn than to absorb insights from those who have been there and done that. There are situations across the board, some that are currently staring you in the face and others that you may not be aware of yet, where help would be advantageous. The people presenting at these conferences are taking the time to stand up (or maybe grab a beer with you later) and provide helpful tips and tactics for you. The one speaker you enjoyed listening to, or the cool person you met during a coffee break, can give you that motivational jolt you need to think outside the box. Don’t get stuck “going through the motions.” If you’re looking for a little more depth on thinking outside the box, I thought this article was interesting: “Why You Should Think Outside the Box.”

4.) Discovering a new direction of interest and enhancing your career options

Maybe you love your job as a network security engineer, pentester, developer… or perhaps you feel there is a different direction your career path should be taking. You don’t have to be stuck in one place, unless you choose to be. Conferences and events allow you to network with individuals from companies that may in fact be looking to put your interest and skills to use. Don’t let yourself get into that rut of checking the days off your calendar, or watching the clock, because you don’t enjoy what you do. It’s never too late, or too soon, to make a positive change for yourself.

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5.) Here’s the chance to expand your sphere of influence and have an impact

The projects being worked on and accomplishments you’re making can have a positive impact on others who are striving towards the same ultimate goals in this field. Complacency shouldn’t prevail in any realm of your career (nor in your personal life), so why let it? Not saying you have to be the one up on stage giving an hour long presentation, with the ability to keep those listening to you entertained and attentive that a lot of us are envious of… But you can be actively participating, opening up thoughts with questions, maybe posing a side comment or two. Sometimes it’s the simplest interactions that can have the most impact.

6.) Get plugged in and re-charge your appreciation for being a part of the InfoSec community

It can be refreshing to take a day or two to be around others who, not only are immersed in the grind of what it takes to be a part of this community, but who also share the passion for learning and doing what it takes to be here. These conferences are held around the world for a reason – and a part of that is being reminded of the collective passion and appreciation for what we get to be a part of.

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So, Be There or Be Square…

There are tons of community conferences all over the place, it just takes tracking them down and getting yourself there. One of the upcoming events, is called the Converge Conference, which is being held on July 16-17 in Detroit, Michigan. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to have access to some of the field’s best security pros, gain updated information, and hang out with some awesome people (including some of us from Hurricane!). Check out the Converge site for more details: Converge Information Security Conference.

P.S. Feel free to agree, defy, or discuss whatever your perspectives are on anything above, and/or share your own conference experiences. No reason to be afraid of a little banter, it’s what makes our world interesting.   

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Christina O’Neill has been working in the information security field for 3 years. She is a board member for the Northern Ohio InfraGard Members Alliance and a committee member for the Information Security Summit, a conference held once a year for information security and physical security professionals.